Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mocador Rocks

Ron Gilker's Mokador Pub - Sutton rocks to his baton

By Manfried Helmuth Starhemberg
Sutton did not know what it was in for when Ron Gilker and his wife Ruth opened the restaurant Mocador. on November 6, 1979. Ron, a self styled "anarchist", a hippy in the best traditons of hippydom, car nut, computer specialist and world traveller happened upon this sleepy town. Slightly toned down,he is still there and his Pub Mocador has become a little slice of Las Vegas in a village mostly associated with the ski hill and the great stained glass windows of the Anglican church
.In 1837, long beforeSutton was recognized as a town, the place the Mocador now occupies, was called the "Tavern in the woods" and it has been in business as a taven, restaurant or pub ever since that time.
Ron Gilker is the product of his great grandfather's father's spirit. The man who ran New Carlisle in the Gaspe peninsula for about 30 years as a mayor modeled the kid.  Ron  spent most of his time having fun. Albeit, a graduate of Concordia University and higly trained computer specialist, Ron travelled the world, first in a 41 ft. sailing vessel for a year, when he did all the islands in the West Indies, then he roamed  Europe and North Africa in his 1952 Merzedes Benz sedan which he abandoned in Paris (to his great regret to this day!)
In the late 70's, Ron went as far as Panama and roamed north America in a van and in exploring the world he finally found a place he wished to settle to: Sutton. With new wife Ruth, he purchased his present business and set out to father a family. Having known Ron for more than a decade, I can speak freely about this:Ruth and Ron divorced about 15 years ago, then reconciled. Ruth is just as much a part of the place as Ron is and they remind me of the Liz Taylor/Richard Burton saga: "You can't live with them but you can't live without them".

In Sutton today,every Wednesday and Friday we have live music at the Pub Mocador an amazingly, the neighbors in the village do not mind the noise. They bitch about  the train whistles, which wake us up twice nighltly, but Ron Gilker's music which can be heard three blocks away, does not trouble any of the locals. A great friend of Ron's. John McGale is on this Friday night, he is well known for his work  with"Offenbach" and has been a soloist at many shows and a friend of Ron's for two decades.
Every Friday the house is packed because it is the only place in Sutton where one may experience vibrant young talent mingle with tried professionals. On Wednesdays Ron often has an "open Mike" evening and local singers, musicians and solloists are allowed to showcase their work.
Mocador has seen many reiterations, first it was a 200 people restaurant, then in 2003 Ron left the kitchen and sublet the place to storied chef Christian Beuxlieux who left two years later to start his own Bistro next door but they are still best friends. New owners occupy the kitchen now but Ron and Ruth have kept the "pub" as their own and it is a vibrant and thriving business and a great place to go to in Sutton. It is also smack in the center of the village. "Location,Location", as the old joke goes - it works for Ron and his many friends.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring comes to Sutton

The first sign of spring at our house is when farmer Raymond Poitras brings the first strawberries door-to-door. Yum Yum.....

Fire in Sutton, Quebec

Aftermath of fire in sutton

Fire Aftermath: (Subway restaurant and other buildings nearby had to evacuate due to smoke and possibilty of fire spreading)

From Manfried at 7pm Sunday

picture 1: ruined building at 6:50pm
picture 2: checking for remaining embers
picture 3: Sutton remains closed for traffic
picture 4: Fireman Matrin Blanchette has a status board which shows the location of every firefighter and equipment
picture 5: the status board

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Friday, March 25, 2011


Elegance - I wish I had it! 

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg

When I grew up in my grandparent's home in Austria in the 50's, "Elegant" was a painting by Gustaf Klimpt (above is an excerpt of his wonderful painting "friends"), or my grandfather's portrait of the great conductor Herbert von Karajan, complete with his shock of white hair, baton poised, ready to conquer the Salzburg Music Festival. I actually attended some master classes by Karajan at the Mozarteum and he was truly "elegant" in his subtle nuances, the underpainting of his orchestral readings, the muted brasses, the almost inaudible oboes.
I shall never be elegant. I could possibly dress up well in my good suit and have my hair done, but I just don't have what it takes. Once a Volkswagen, always a Volkswagen. There were no Bugattis in my family, no Hooper bodied Rolls Royces, no Lamborghinis, not even a lousy Amati fiddle. Just normal folks. However, I know elegance when I find it. Last week I visited an ailing friend who has been wheelchair bound for seven years. He had his table impeccably set with a lone flower in a vase, two finely polished glasses on a lovely table cloth and a good bottle of red wine decanted well ahead of my arrival, so that we could enjoy the wine at its finest. This man cannot change his diapers but he is well spoken, well shaven and apologetic not to be able to rise to greet me. If this is not elegance, I do not know where to find it.
Elegance surrounds us but it has to be found in the minutiae of daily life. A simple flower can be as elegant as the best Monet painting, a reflection of the moon in a pond, the smile of a well mannered girl at the grocery store. or a well crafted letter written to a friend or received from one. I have traveled extensively and I still recall the elegance of tribal songs in a Kenyan village or the majestic sight of a lone giraffe on the Serengeti. And there is the majesty of a sunset on the horizon of an ocean or the incredible sight of brook trout under a bridge in a clear stream. Nature is the great teacher of elegance, because she needs no makeup, no handlers, no artificial light. It is there for us to enjoy the never ending elegance of our surroundings even in their simplest form,from the parachutes of dandelions to the fine texture of a walnut shell.
Birds are elegant, even pigeons. Just watch them go about their daily work - they are among the Lord's greatest creations, so immensely beautiful and elegant in flight and graceful in repose. I do not think that Calvin Cline or Yves St. Laurent could create a picture of elegance like I saw a few days ago on my way to Derby, an 8 point stag in full majesty in a field. He looked like a lord striding about his grounds with grace and dignity.
Of course, since I love music, there is elegance in works such as "Appalachian Spring" or "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland, or the incredible adagio from Dworak's "New World Symphony". This is aural elegance far superior to me than a lot of other music as it appeals to the simple elegance of man, is based on folk songs,elevated by the genius of a composer to soar above and make us simple folk feel "elegant" and appreciated.
In Japan,the late master of haiku poetry Masaoka Shiki is revered as the embodiment of literary elegance. His 17 moras, in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 moras respectively, have set the standard for haiku poetry which is another embodiment of human elegance as a simple story, a moral or a greet feeling is condensed into an incredibly elegant tiny text of words.
Elegance can also be found in mathematics, in chemical formulas, in a well composed thesis or in a newspaper article. To a degree it sets apart the common dross from the shining example, the laborious meandering of words to Hemingway's sparse prose, the "I have a dream" peach by Martin Luther King, to the ravings of a lunatic African dictator.
I also admire architectural elegance. The Vietnam memorial in Washington is the embodiment of elegance as, (for me), is the new triangle at the Louvre in Paris.There is immense elegance in bridge construction as well. My grandfather was a bridge architect and he approached every project with the same intensity a painter would harness to sketch out a new masterpiece. "A bridge must not just bring people from one point of the valley or the river to the other, it must blend in, be not offensive to the natural surroundings and must be built to last for 50 years". This was his credo. He also stated: "Every bridge has a limited life span and people must be made aware of what that life span is, otherwise they will have huge problems later on".Well, he was my embodiment of "Elegant" and right now he would have a bit of fun with the problem of  most of America's bridges. Some of his have lasted for 90 years.

The "Spiceman" - another Sutton restaurant visited

Sutton's Spiceman, a Former Embassy Chef

By Manfried Helmuth
In Sutton, Paul Dass is known as "The Spiceman". This is also the name of this chef''s restaurant at the corner of Western and Principale streets. Born in Burma, Paul was raised in New Delhi and considers himself of Indian origin but he has been a Canadian citizen for more than 25 years.As a cook, he was home trained; "My father, mother, grandmother and sister were or are still all chefs, this is a family trade". His parents must have taught him well because the now 63 year old spent years as chef at the American, Canadian and German embassies in New Delhi."When a new ambassador comes, they often bring their own chef or hire someone new. That is when I went to the next embassy, the job offers were always there", he explains.
Why Canada?"The Groupe Lavallin hired him to come to Montreal as chef of their company guest houses and he liked it so much, he is still here.The Sutton establishment which he operates all by himself, just had it's tenth' anniversary. The place is licensed to sell beer and wine and seats up to 20 people in a friendly intimate room. In season there is a spacious terrace.
The menu is traditional Indian and very inexpensive. A spicy Madras chicken is $ 10.95 as is the Butter chicken. Good beef or shrimp curries are $ 11.95 and $ 13.95 respectively but the vegetable Samosa is only $ 2.- and the beef variety $ 3.-. The array of vegetables ranges from Vegetable Korma ($ 5.95) to Sag Panir, an excellent dish of spinach and homemade cheese to spicy okra and basmati rice.
Paul only opens from Wednesday to Sunday and closes at 9pm unless he has a reserved party which is popular for birthday events and family get togethers. He even encourages people to decorate the place to their liking for such occasions. There is no extra charge for reserved parties, the same everyday prices apply. The reduced hours of operation are the result of a quadruple bypass operation a year ago. "I had to scale back a little bit" explains the chef. However it is known locally that he painted a barn two weeks after being released from hospital. This is his sideline, he paints houses in his time off and seems to be doing a good job as evidenced by the backlog  of work he has.
Dass is divorced and his ex wife lives in India. His oldest son is in New Delhi as well and the proud papa gloats over pictures of his son who works at the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi. In one picture young Dennis Dass is shown with Paul Martin, in another with Stephen Harper. The apple obviously has not fallen far from the tree. His daughter lives in California, she got married two months ago and a very pleased papa just learned that she is pregnant with her first child. This will be probably be another family member to train for the embassy trade at some time in the future.
The near future for the Spiceman? "I am getting new tables for the terrasse and we will have outdoor barbecued dishes coming as soon as it is warm to sit outside". Meanwhile, this Saturday, March 5, at 11:30 am people are starting to come in and a local woman is discussing her daughter's birthday party tonight. She has brought her own cake which Paul carefully puts in the pastry refrigerator. Happy birthday to the young lady and happy anniversary for the Spiceman.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sutton Clothing Sales at the Catholic Church

Sutton's Haberdasherie - it's ok to bring the BMW

By Nancy Helmuth
For 27 years Suttonites and tourists have shopped for second hand clothes at the basement shop of the Catholic church. For the past eight years the friendly place has been presided over by Gisele Roy (center), flanked by Jacqueline Desautels and Chislaine Pilon, while I am on the right. (OK to crop me out of the pix - Nancy). The array of clothes is amazing, there are hundreds of lovely sweaters, shirts, coats and jackets, a rack of belts, suits and dress pants, dresses and hats.
My husband found a wonderful suede leather jacket for about the price of a bottle of beer, this is the sixth leather jacket he has liberated from this place in the last three years alone. We have been "frequent fliers" here and outside of undergarments, socks and shoes, we have outfitted us to our hearts delight for more than a decade, since we moved to Sutton.
Of course, I also return clothes (mainly due to the "expansion of age" principle), but I can also always find a blouse or jacket just a tad wider then the last one...

There is no great haggling about prices either, the coats are one price, so are the jackets etc. It does not matter if the jacket is plastic or leather - one price for every group of garments. Gisele and her helpers spend hours sorting new donations and keep only the best quality items. Second rate stuff gets collected for shipment to Africa as a donation, unuseable items are set aside for recycling and are being picked up every two weeks by a company which specializes in recycling textile materials. All staff members are volunteers and the proceeds of the store belong to the church. This haberdasherie and the Wed. and Sat. thrift shop across the parking lot, have been instrumental to raise funds for this year's renovation of the church.
It is not surprising to see my friends BMW or Mercedes cars in the parking lot. Even affluent people are not stupid and they either bring stuff, or get more to take home. I recently purchased a Y.S.L jacket and Manfried an ankle deep Australian made all cotton coat which was probably last worn by John Wayne in a spaghetti western (It's ok, he has the wide brimmed hats to go with it...)

So, when in Sutton and in need of a good sweater or a pair of gardening pants, this is the place to go to. It's open every Wednesday and Saturday. See you there!
Pix by Manfried

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Hotel Wellington in Sherbrooke a nice surprise

By Manfried Helmuth
Nancy and I recently spent a day at the Sherbrooke Record and needed a place to stay for the night. We used Google and found an advertisement of this vintage hotel on Wellington street. The prices seemed reasonable and the distance to the newspaper plant just right for us city weary drivers. We booked the room via their automated booking system, immediately got a confirmation and showed up at 11:30 on Monday. Check-in time is stated at 3pm, but Marsi and Ali Karami, the Iranian born proprietors made us immediately welcome and issued us our room.
From the outside the hotel looks worn down, but the lobby is elegant, the elevators worked and to our great surprise, the inexpensive room was nicely appointed and sparkling clean. Linens and towels looked new, the television has an abundance of cable TV channels, a good quality alarm radio is supplied, as are free internet access and free local telephone calls. This is a case of not "judging the book by it's cover". The Karimis proved friendly and courteous hosts and we chatted for quite some time about the current political situation of their native Iran which they fled many years ago. The elderly couple is educated, Marsi is an engineer by trade and Ali is also a college graduate.

Our car was parked free of charge in the sheltered parking garage under the hotel, which we enjoyed in the morning, as it had been snowing all night.
A few meters away from the hotel is the fabulous Cafe/Bistro Bla-Bla, a 35 year old institution in Sherbrooke which we enjoyed tremendously over a large plate of all-dressed nachos and a pitcher of Boreale Blond, served by a pretty and vivacious Anne-Sophie Robitaille.
We shall re-visit both places as we enjoyed our stay there very much.
Ali Karimi even insisted to take my picture in the lobby:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Rail Jam" in Sutton a huge success

Impromptu "Rail Jam" a Huge Success in Sutton

By Nancy Helmuth
One of the weirest sporting events in the history of Sutton took place on Saturday and was a huge success: Organizers of the "Rodeo Fest" on Sutton Mountain cancelled Saturday's events due to the lack of snow, which left a group of snowboard enthusiasts, who had planned their annual "Rail Jam", stranded. But the people at the "Balance Board Shop" in Cowansville had happened to notice that the town of Sutton had amassad a huge hill of snow against the wall of the former Filtex factury. This wall abuts the parking lot of "Resto Lounge Sutton". Phone calls were made, and the owner of the restaurant closed off his parking lot. Eight hours of hard work transferred the ugly wall of snow into a twelve meter high snow boarding venue smack in the center of Sutton village.
The enthusiastic folks from the Adrenalin" and the "Balance Board Shop" as well as their sponsors from "Nomis", "Surfface", "Technine" and "Coors Lite" built a starting gate, erected tents for spectators, brought in computer scoring equipment and lighting. The "hill" was sculpted to have a stairway, the ramp, the rail and a safe landing circle for the athletes.
By six pm. everything was ready for the 30 snowboarders to get familiar with the jump and the rail and curious Suttonites came to see what was going on. By the time the event started in earnest at 8:30 pm, there were hundreds of onlookers enjoying the spectacle.
The manager of the "Balance Board Shop" was enthusiastic and seemed to have everything well in hand, from registration to crowd control, advise and encouragement.
For an impromptu and unadvertised event to a festive night in Sutton, this was one fun spectacle for everyone who had the chance to watch or to participate. The snow will melt and this unofficial second Sutton ski mountain will disappear but people in town will remember this one for a long time.
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Friday, March 18, 2011


In this blog are all the current stories Nancy and I have published recently in the Sherbrooke Record and the Townships Outlet and every time a story is in print, the piece will be added the same day to this blog. Come back and enjoy our work. Thank you for visiting!

60 years ago Canada gave it all away....

60 Years Ago Canada Had it All and Gave it Away

by Manfried Starhemberg
60 years ago Avro Canada's Jetliner created a sensation by flying from Toronto to New York in half the time usual for even the most advanced piston engined planes of the time. It was the second (by two weeks) pure jet in the world, being narrowly preceded by Britain's Comet. That same year it flew from Chicago to New York in one hour and 40 minutes at 459 miles per hour. At this time, United States pure jet technology was only in the early drawing stages. In light of the many problems the Comet experienced, the C-102 Jetliner should have and probably would have been the rightful sucessor of the venerable DC-3.
The Jetliner flew flawlessly for two years without one single problem in its operation. However, the project was abandoned even while TWA and the United Strates air force were placing orders of 30 and 20 units respectively. Canada's "brilliant" Cabinet minister C.D. Howe argued that any aircraft which needs sandbags for stability was not viable. Every aircraft of that time used sandbags to test weight distribution and stability. The designer, James Floyd, was awarded the Wright medal for his brillant design, the first non North American ever to win this Nobel prize of aviation.
In a further grievous act of stupidity, the original CF-EJ-X was scrapped even after having received another firm order from National Airlines and great enthusiasm from the U.S.A.A.F. We did not even allow a museum to have it and even an invitation to keep it at the Smithsonian Institution was denied. Today, all that is left of this magnificent Canadian machine is the nose which can be seen at the National Aviation Museum.
I am certain that the good people at Douglas, Boeing and Lockheed must have been laughing their heads off at the time.
And then - well seven years later, precisely on February 20, 1959, we did it again; we scrapped the Avro Arrow.

As the Toronto Daily Star reported on this "day of Infamy in Canadian Aviation": Diefenbaker Decides "Scrap the Arrow"
The text reads:
Ottawa, Feb,20 - The federal government has scrapped the Avro Arrow and its Iroqouis engine, Prime minister Diefenbaker announced in the House of Commons today. At the same time, the prime minister made it clear that the government has no alternative air defence system planned to take the place of the supersonic jet interceptor.
By the end of the day the 14,000 employees of A.V. Roe and the Orenda engine companies were out of work.
What could have been the greatest moment in the history of Canadian technology became the greatest aviation tragicomedy of all time. Almost 80 percent of the laid-off pool of aviation talent were snapped up by U.S.companies, a loss we were never able to recoup.
And what of the Arrow? It flew faster and higher than any other intercepter then built. For the first time, Canada was poised to take a position of leadership in the global aviation field. To add insult to injury, the government also decided to shred all documents pertaining to plane and engine and to destroy the fleet altogether. We have not one single Arrow to show the world today.
Considering the fact that subsequent governments have had to purchase all their planes such as the CF-18 Hornet from the U.S., and that we are now poised to spend billions on a new strike fighter program, I say it serves them right....

My kingdom for a pond

My Kingdom for a Pond

By Manfried Starhemberg
I finally realized what is missing in my life: a pond. Every one of my friends and acquaintances has one, or the more affluent have two of them. Living in Sutton I just realized that I am of the pariah class of the pondless. No pond, not even a puddle. Nothing to show for here. I am doomed to exist pondless unless someone out there is willing to sell or lease me an inexpensive pond within easy driving distance of Sutton.
We used to live in a lovely new England town on a road called Pond Street. And we owned the pond. It was narrow, just about 30 meters across but about 90 meters long. Spring fed, it was crystal clear and in the late 70's and early 80's we had trout and carp in it.
I still cherish the evenings in winter when we put up "luminaria," the old Italian sport of putting sand and a candle in a brown paper bag. We lined the pond with those and watched our and the neighborhood kids skate. I had built a triangle of steel, weighted with concrete blocks which I towed across the ice behind my Montgomery Ward 8 Hp. tractor to pretend I was a Zamboni. Well, it worked. For the adults we would make a snow bar with bottles stuck into the top to keep them cold.
Not being a Canadian, I am not a born skater - actually to this day I can only do figure 8 turns to the right - but what fun it was then.
Now I am dreaming about having a small floating houseboat (well, an 8 x 16 ft barge with a roof) where Nancy and I could laze about on a lovely summer's evening, perhaps a hibachi next to the cooler and a moderate boombox to add a touch of Schubert or Sibelius to the hedonism of the day...
My friends do not do anything with their ponds - they own them, that's it. Six people I know that own ponds have never swum in them - they have adjacent swimming pools. A man I do some work for sometimes forgot that he had a pond because when I commented about it he said, "Yes, I remember there is some water in back of the estate which is why I cannot sell that part or build there..." This is one of the most unspoilt ponds I have seen hereabouts.
A German acquaintance of ours tells everyone who wants to know that "I havve zwei lakes." For her the two meager ponds are lakes. This is why she is a successful real estate lady. Everyone has a pond but she has two "lakes."
My other hobby is the building of model ships. I just finished a lovely steamship with a real steam engine in her. She needs a pond, don't you think? There is also a 4 ft fully rigged tall ship upstairs, a Victorian area excursion steamer, an America's Cup yacht ready to challenge all comers. And yet, no pond.
Well, I'll probably die pondless but the dream is very much alive. Every morning when I drive through the lovely townships on my bread delivery rounds I see those serene dots of unused water beckoning me to give them life.
Anyone have a cheap pond?

Collecting time - a timeconsuming hobby

Collecting Portable Time, a Time Consuming Hobby

by Manfried Rieder Starhemberg
Where I come from it is tradition to receive your first wrist watch as a confirmation gift from your Catholic sponsor. Mine was my grandfather, and my gift was a 16 jewel wind-up Omega. I was eight years old and for the past 56 years mechanical and later electro-mechanical watches have held a great fascination for me, so much so that I now own approximately 300 of them. I have been able to maintain all but about two dozen in well-oiled, cleaned condition, and I wear one of them every day.
To this day the mechanical watch, either pocket or wrist, remains the finest micro-mechanical achievement of mankind, which explains the renewed fascination of the affluent with names like Rolex, Omega, I.W.C, Vacheron & Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Breitling, and TAG Heuer. Some timepieces take a group of master craftsmen a year or more to create, and every year improvements are made in a form called "complications." Complications are moon faces, additional dials, even musical movements, all in a machine the size of an Oreo cookie...
A wind up watch or its "automatic" brother will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 parts, driven by a mainspring which transmits its power through a train of gears to the hands. It is regulated by a balance spring (or hairspring) which oscillates and activates a lever with two pallets which will engage and disengage the power train in precise intervals to  control the amount of power allowed to flow through the gear train.
A modern balance will oscillate at 18,000 beats per hour. Many upscale watches have movements that will almost double this. Rolex and Omega have movements with 28,000 beats per hour. But even the lowly 18,000 beat per hour Timex will beat 432,000 times every day, or 12.96 million times per month. The tiny balance wheel travels in an average year the distance of 2.3 times to the moon, and therein is the fascination to collectors.
There are two kinds of collectors: the affluent who purchase rare vintage watches mainly as an investment (some specialize in just one brand of watch, or only collect military watches, for example), or people like me who buy the inexpensive watches most people do not want anymore because they now have a reliable Quartz watch and cannot be bothered to wind up the thing every day.
Watches can be found in fleamarkets, in the glass vitrines of Church jumble sales, or on eBay. Collectors will often buy "a box of watches" and then find out that, out of 25, three work, nine have broken springs, three have busted balance staffs, and at least one has the stem missing or the crystal is so sratched that you cannot see the dial anymore. It's all right. If the price was right, clean up the good ones, put new bands on them, and enjoy.
Most collectors are self-taught watch cleaners and will have a series of case openers to get inside to the movement, and they will know how to finely oil the watch. It takes only approximately 1 cubic mm of oil to completely oil a wristwatch. Over-lubricating will only attract dirt. Even a tiny amount of oil in the geartrain will travel through the train and, eventually, one gear will lubricate another. This is a simplification but often it's enough.
Other than the purely mechanical watches, many will collect electro-mechanical watches. These were actually nothing more than quality gear-driven timepieces, but, instead of a spring, a battery-driven tuning fork does the timing. The finest was the Bulova "Accutron."
Bulova's Accutron watches, first sold in October 1960, use a tuning fork of 360 hertz to drive a mechanical gear train to turn the hands. The inventor, Max Hetzel, joined the Bulova Watch Company of Bienne, Switzerland, in 1948. The tuning fork was powered by a single transistor-driven circuit, so the Accutron qualifies as the first real electronic watch. More than 4 million were sold until production stopped in 1977, and today a functioning one will go for approximately $300 at auction.
Timex was not far behind and started aggressively marketing their Timex "Electric" series through National Geographic and similar magazines. I am very fond of these early Electrics and own many of them. The problem is that the first series Electric had a protruding battery housing on the rear of the watch which can become annoying. (The ladies series was better designed and the batteries were intregrated flush.)
So, if this interests you, go start collecting. You may find that part of the joy of this hobby is that you can look up your particular make and model on the Internet, research the history of the watchmakers, and learn about the place where it was made and by whom.
This is truly a timeless hobby, collecting time.

The puzzling crossword addiction


by Manfried Starhemberg
The New York World newspaper has a lot to answer for. In its 1913 Christmas edition, published on Dec 21st, Arthur Winne, a Liverpudlian puzzles & entertainment editor for the World, published the first ever crossword puzzle.  Wynne's puzzle (which can be seen online at differed from today's crosswords, in that it was diamond-shaped and contained no internal black squares. During the early 1920's other newspapers picked up the newly discovered pastime, and within a decade crossword puzzles were featured in almost all American newspapers. It was during this period that crosswords began to assume their now-familiar form. Ten years after its birth in the States it crossed the Atlantic and re-conquered Europe.
Surprisingly, despite their instant popularity, for years crosswords in the United States appeared nowhere else but the New York World. Then, in 1924, a couple of newly qualified graduates of the Columbia School of Journalism named Dick Simon and Lincoln Schuster set up a publishing business. Looking for something to publish, they settled on a book of puzzles from the New York World. This book was an immediate massive hit, and launched the crossword craze worldwide.
So much for history. For 38 years, whenever possible, Nancy and I have started out the day with the ritual of the crossword.  While I read the paper, Nancy gets to do the regular daily puzzle of the Gazette, which is then erased so I can have it as she starts on the New York Times. Since the NYT normally takes a litle longer, I download and print two copies of the L.A. Times puzzle; thus I get to do the NYT while she enjoys the LAT, and so on. (Now that I have a subscription to the Sherbrooke Record, I get the L.A. Times puzzle without all that downloading.)
Now, why did I state that the "World" has a lot to answer for? Simply add about seven hours per week spent "puzzling," which amounts to 364 hours per year, then multiply that by over 38 years. That's 13,832 wasted hours. Without the crossword we could have been productive members of our society! Add to this the fact that we each read at least three books a week and you must come to the conclusion that we are complete losers in the socio-economic matrix of our times. In this context I must also admit to making paintings, building ship models, and taking time out for "Saturday Afternoon at the Opera." (If I mention the frequent abuse of late night "Turner Vintage Movies" on the telly we will probably be ex-communicated.)
What have I gained from all this? Well, I know all the regular fillers such as "Aloe," "Adieu," "Sloe," "Elk," "Aida" (which was not a bloody Verdi princess but a slave girl, you New York Times nitwits), and all other twenty daily repetitions. However, often I get bamboozled by something like this: "Last Army Post Abandoned in 1956." I went on Google to see which "Post" the Army had closed in 1956 to no avail. I didn't get it. The answer was "Five Star General." Cute.
Where I am lacking is baseball players and movie stars or their directors. I know Aaron Copeland (met him in Tanglewood in the early 70's), but I do not know any rappers, which makes me a lucky person. And a book published in 1952 that was made into a 1962 film escapes me even if I finally know how to spell Athabasca. I am still weak in the sixth month on the Jewish calendar or the eleventh Pope, but Nancy did coach me on sports starts such as Orr or Sosa while I tell her about Bobby or Al Unser, Mario or Michael Andretti, and the whole list of first names of my beloved opera stars from Feodor Chaliapin to Kirsten Flagstad (after whom our youngest daughter is named).
So, where does all this get me? Did we have time between all this hedonism to procreate? Hell yes, the kids enjoyed the puzzles with us. Now they teach music, literature, and one is a doctor. They never thought they missed out by not being dragged to the basball stadium or watching football with dad on Saturday afternoons (another one of Nancy's favorites, but only enjoyed now that we are by ourselves again).
Well, I have to cut this story short. M.A.S.H. is on in ten minutes on the History Channel and I cannot afford to waste another minute, because tomorrow's puzzle shall surely ask me about "actor Alda" or "actress Loretta," and I will not wear the dunce's cap!

A cat lover's story

a cat lover's story

by Manfried Starhemberg
The ubiquitous "They" say that there are "cat people" and there are "dog people." I happen to be a "cat people," as is thankfully my wife, though she strayed from the path a couple of decades ago by devoting her attention to a brute named Brutus, a beautiful but indifferently dispositioned German Shephard. When I was a kid back home in Austria we had Spaniels and I loved them, but eventually the chore of dog ownership became too much of a burden and I started my life long association with cats.
Some people will tell you cats show no affection. Incorrect. Just last night our little male 6 month old Feisty slept between us contentedly purring away, while the 15 year old female Filmore kept my feet warm and 11 month old Marko and 8 year old Tigger shared the top of the dresser, cuddled up in not-yet-put-away sweaters.
Even now as I am pecking away on my keyboard, Marko is curled up on my lap and Feisty is preening himself on top of the printer, while Filmore and Tigger are on the kitchen counter supervising Nancy as she does the laundry.
When we moved to Montreal in 1993 we acquired two pretty black male kittens, Nigel and Cedric. Just as we had opened our first bicycle store, we found a young female cat which had her tail cut off by some inhuman creep. Our vet got her straightened out and with the assistance of another one of our young males, Tommy, we became the proud owners of Filmore, the surviving cat of Spokes's first litter. Spokes lived in the bike shop (hence the name "Spokes") until she had Filmore, after which we brought her home. Another litter sired by Tommy gave us 5 beautiful cats, three of which we gave to friends; two of them, Smudgy and Spotsy (along with Filmore, Spokes, and Tommy) were transplanted to Sutton in 2000. Spokes died a few years ago and rests in our backyard, Spotsy was put down this February because he had renal problems, and one month later his brother Smudgy died of a heart attack, still desperately looking for his twin. They had been inseparable for 13 years.
A visit to the Animalerie in Cowansville got us Marko and Polo. We lost Polo when she raced across the street in front of a truck, leaving Marko inconsolable. He would not eat. A friend of ours just had a litter and we got Feisty as a just-weaned baby. Now Marko and Feisty are an item. If one is outside and the other in, a great howling and gnashing of teeth ensues until we reunite them.
Tigger was about a year old when someone left him at the doorstep of the Abercorn Bakery where I worked at the time, knowing that owner George Dmtruk had been known to find homes for left over kittens. Well, Tiggy, as we call him, has been with us since 2004, and contributed greatly in changing the color scheme of Sutton cats from grey to orange until we took care of that.
In 2000 we also inherited the late great Missy. She was 19 years old at the time, and we took her in as a charity case. She died at 26, outliving her original vet, who had maintained all her records, by four years. In 2001 and 2002 I had a severe health scare and was pretty immobile, but every night Missy would keep my chemotherapy-bald head warm by wrapping herself around it like a Russian Cossack's cap. We miss her.
But the beauty about cats is their antics. Even old Filmore will still joyfully chase rubber balls around with the little ones, and Tiggy will gravely watch the "kids" play in the yard, never far from where he can see them. Often the older cats would growl at the little ones when we were around, but ten minutes later we'd find them cuddled up together in a big ball of fur. For them its just a big production in appreciation of the people who serve them as caterers, commode cleaners, doormen (I often feel like "Carlton the Doorman" of the Mary Tyler Moore Show), and groomers and pedicurists.
Maybe I should ask Tiggy, as the man of the house, for a raise.
The best thing is that I do not have to cruise around with a plastic bag and scooper and leave my house every morning at six because Rex wants his walkie. When its cold, my cats love to sleep in just as we do.
So get a cat, it might be the best comic relief or companion you'll ever get !


Feisty in the sinkFeisty in the tubFeisty again
Filmore below, Feisty above

 Feisty and his lawnmower below, Tigger above
Feisty and his lawnmower
 Feisty and Tigger
Tigger and co.
Copyright 2011 Maple Leaf Press Agency. All rights reserved. Clients may reprint or quote from any sent articles as per contract. Attribution to author is mandatory.
20 Western Street
Sutton, QC J0E 2K0

ph: (450) 538 0982

The first street legal flying car

COMING SOON: The First Street and Air Legal Flying Car

by Manfried Starhemberg
This time it's not a Popular Mechanics pipe dream but the real thing: The US Federal Aviation Administration has given type approval to a new aircraft which is also capable of being used as a motorcar on the highways. It has met the crash test requirements of the Federal Transportation Safety board and is now certified for sale in the United States.
It took a group of young, talented M.I.T. graduates led by Dr. Carl Dietrich (33) to bring his original drawings through the "proof-of-concept" stage to flight tests at Plattsburgh airport in 2009, culminating, after excruciating examinations by officials from two different agencies, in a newly minted certification of airworthiness.
The craft will go into limited production this year and will be sold at the end of 2011 at a price estimated at approximately $200,000 to $250,000.
The prospect of combining flying and driving in a single vehicle has tantalized engineers, inventors, and visionaries for decades. In 1940, Henry Ford proclaimed: ''Mark my word, a combination airplane and motor car is coming. You may smile, but it will come."
The Terrafuggia Transition weighs 1,320 pounds, features a 100-horsepower Rotax engine, stands 6 1/2 feet tall, and is 80 inches wide.
Here is how Dietrich and his partners envision the craft to work:
A driver (who would require a newly created F.A.A. Sports pilot's license) gets into the front seat of the Transition, turns the ignition key, and drives to the nearest small airport. The wings stick up from the sides; the rear propeller is not in use. Once at the airport, he pushes a button, lowering the 27-foot wings into flying position. The pilot runs a pre-flight check of the aircraft. Then, the pilot turns the ignition key once more, starts the propeller, taxis to the runway, and takes off. Traveling at about 120 miles per hour at a cruising altitude of between 3,500 and 8,000 feet (though the aircraft would be able to go as high as 12,000 feet), he flies to his destination. After landing at the airport, he pushes a button to transform the plane back into a car and drives to his business meeting. Later, he drives back to the airport, changes it into a plane, flies back, converts the Transition to a car, and drives home.
Dietrich points out, however, that the Transition would not make for a practical family car. ''This is not going to replace your Toyota Camry," he said. ''You could take it to the store, but it doesn't have the trunk space of your SUV."
The range of the craft is 700 kilometers on one full tank.
Move over Jetsons - The Future is now!

Garden center Paquette - 1 million plants growing inMarch!

1 Million Plants and a peak season of eight weeks - Paquette Garden center is getting ready

By Manfried Helmuth Starhemberg
Right now there are over one million plants growing at Sutton's Paquette Garden Center. Pierre Lafontaine who is a sales consultant for the company and deals with chain stores from Ontario to the Maritimes afforded me the grand tour on March 17. I am still in a daze. For many years we have been purchasing our spring plantings and herbs and the occasional hanging basket from Paquettes but I never had any idea of the scope of this 30 year old family business. There is a total of 40 greenhouses, which enclose 350,000 square feet of cultivation area. Outside there are 250,000 square feet for spring and summer display  and in the rear of the greenhouses are acres of plants growing in nicely manicured fields.

Many plants start as seeds in flats of 240 and will have to be transplanted by hand. In peak season the company employes about 40 full time employees, in winter the number is "at about 20" explains Pierre."We start many of our plants in summer and then create a hibernation period that mimicks nature but the plants still need to be tended, the temperature has to be monitored at all times, so is the humidity. The other problem is that one of the plastic greenhouse covers which only last for about three years, may spring a leak because of snow build up. You don't fix it immediately, you have a dead crop on your hand".
In spring and summer, the greenhouses are controlled by computers and each greenhouse has its own mico-climate as to the exact degree of humidity, the watering needs and light. Huge sensors control those climates and watering is done automatically. There are literally thousands of water nozzles overhead in every part of the plant.

Plants, after they are potted, move through the cavernous halls on endless conveyors to different staging areas, or in season, to a loading dock for shipment to the Lowes stores in Ontario, to the Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Rona or Home Hardware stores and dozens of other retail outlets. "We are to big to own our own trucks" explains Mr. Lafontaine. This part of the business goes to contractors, they can deal with all the government regulations. Also, our season is very short and does not warrant a full time fleet of trucks which would have to be maintained year round".
Can a company which produces "green stuff" get any "greener?. "Well yes", states Pierre and he demonstrated the newest fully bio-degradable readyt to plant pots which are made of coconut fibre. "Just stick it into the ground and the fiber will protect the plant and actually act as a growing medium until the plant is fully settled into its environment. Even the plastic band is bio-degradable!"

There are three generations of Paquettes still working the business. Gilles Paquette, the founder of the business is retired but he still keeps an area of turf in the back for experimental work on special bushes, flowers or new species. "I have been doing this for nine years and I have never worked for a place like this" explains Pierre. 'Everything is employee oriented, this is not a factory, rather a place where plant lovers are allowed to excell, to be crative, in a friendly and cheerful environment".
The season will begin oficially in April and Pierre explains that there "actually is only an eight week window of opportunity to do the year's business. It normally spans from April 15 to June 15, after that you gradually start working on next year's crop".  Pierre's father was a financial manager for  Canada Post  and, as Pierre states: "He used to come home in his three piece suit, put his briefcase down and started to weed his flower beds. Pierre's brother owns 2,000 apple trees and grows perennials and his other brother is a landscape artist. Obviously the proverbial apple has not fallen to far away from the tree.
Our tour completed, I see receptionist Vicky Cyr already busy taking orders on her telephone. I am glad I had the oportunity to see this place now because in two weeks there would be no time to show me around.

Stained glass artist Marc Sarrazin

Marc Sarrazin, Restorer of Stained Glass Treasures

By Manfried Helmuth
If you have been in any of the older churches in the Townships which has a stained glass window or two, you have probably seen the work of Marc Sarrazin. He is one of about 3 master stained glass artists registered with the Quebec government as expert restorers of those incredibly intricate treasures. When a church gets a grant to re-do a broken panel or one where the leading that holds the pieces in place is defective, the Government contracts those qualified to do the work to offer a contract proposal. Marc has done more than 40 churches in the Townships alone but over the past 20 years this 54 year old artist also has restored churches in Montreal, in the Maritimes and places between.

The Montreal born Sarrazin spent eight years as an apprentice to the great Quebec master The'o Lubbers, a Dutchman who, according to Marc, "trained anyone in the province who is any good". After eight years of unpaid work he set out establishing himself. He had various studios in the Townships, mainly in Knowlton and Sutton and last year he moved into a large space in Abercorn village. There are numerous pieces on display or in various stages of production. While approximately 50% of the work is churches or stained glass restoration for owners of vintage houses, Marc also makes stained glass to architectural specifications as well. The rest of the business is home owners wishing to adorn their house with a piece of original stained glass art. This can be as small as a light catcher or a huge door.

"Sadly, so many churches have been sold for use as condominiums or mosques, youth centers and what have you, " Marc explains, "A lot of the stained glass has to be removed and stored because it was originally gifted to the church by an individual or a family. By law they are the perpetual owners of the work in case the church gets sold. Right now there are hundreds of priceless pieces being stored because it often is not possible to find the ancestors of the original donors".
The work is priced by the square foot and the demand of materials such as special glasses. "I have an excellent supplier in Montreal who will actually ship to me on short notice but antique glass is very hard to find and when I do find it, often in Europe, the price is exorbitant and will influence the cost of the work or piece desired".
Marc cuts all his panes freehand and it is amazing to watch him deftly cut an intricate pattern on a pane of glass using just a glass cutter with a specially hardened cutting wheel. The cutter is the size of a fountain pen.

If Marc is not in his studio or busy with a church, you may find him at places like Sutton's Pub Mokador whe he is frequently playing in a band of friends at "open mike nights". He is a gifted base player and finds his music an excellent way to unwind after the tedium to shape glass to the most precise specifications. Does he have a website? "No, I have so much work now that I could not add any more. I am happy the way business has been going"
I own an old stained glass window with one pane missing. Chances are I shall shortly add to Marc's workload....

Anthony Sauve'

From Blueberries to Encromancies, Anthony Sauve' Excells in Photography

My Manfried Helmuth Starhemberg
Anthony Sauve' (34) is becoming know in Quebec art circles as one of the few artists who specialise in an art form called "encromancies". In his own words that means:
"Gnostic gelatine. An herbarium inspired
by Wassilly Kandinsky’s first abstract
paintings and by the divination arts of
prophets and druids. Encromancie was a
ritual based on the observation of ink
splatters to interpret their signification,
similar to the psychological test of Rorschach
to determine a patient’s mental stability.
Insights into my psyche, a codex of my own
personal iconography.

Inkjet prints of sketch-like organic shapes, a selection of unstable and ephemeral
shrivelling macro-installations which I
photograph at different stages of their
transformation. I use raw materials such as
pure pigments and drawing inks, I mold the
gelatine and bend black steel wires as a frame
for my compositions. The ink spreads, the
colours change, the pigments crumble, the
gelatine liquifies rapidly; I can slow down the
melting in the refrigerator to a certain state
of mummification.

I work with a digital single lens reflex, an
inkjet printer and with a scanner, the
“gelatines” directly on the glass."

Anthony recently had a well attended show in Montreal and is planning his next one which will take place at the VAV gallery on Blvd Rene Levesques on Montreal from May 17 to 28.
"I've traveled before and strolled constantly, changing curriculum, such as Literature , the Visual Arts and as varied as the History of Art and Craft Bakery , and was finally graduated in Maple Syrup Production and Photography.".
Having know Anthony for more than a decade, I can attest that he is equally adept at assisting his Parents Pierre and Terry Sauve' at their very beautiful blueberry farm in Sutton and since photography and the creation of the pieces to be photographed, has only been recently the mainstay of his work, I have also seen him as a "liftie" on Sutton's ski mountain and as a house painter. In anything I have seen him at, he has shown intensity and energy. His vivid colors and the impeccable printing processes that he uses have won him rave reviews and thankfully a few knowlegeable buyers who cherish his work.
Copyright 2011 Maple Leaf Press Agency. All rights reserved. Clients may reprint or quote from any sent articles as per contract. Attribution to author is mandatory.
20 Western Street
Sutton, QC J0E 2K0

ph: (450) 538 0982