Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Valley Vines by Sarah Harrold ~ “The Great One” of Wines

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When you hear the title “The Great One,” you immediately think of Wayne Gretzky and hockey. But would you ever associate Wayne Gretzky with wine? Many would be surprised to know that the No. 99 does not just label a hockey jersey but also an amazing line of wines.

Our featured wine is the 2008 Merlot from Wayne Gretzky Estates in the Niagara Peninsula. This vintage showcases a fruit-forward style featuring aromas of cherry and blackberry. A well rounded palate with medium tannins accentuates the ripe berry fruit, with oak spice and mocha in the finish.

It is aged in American oak barrels for an average of 8 months and has a alcohol content of 12.5%. This Merlot pairs best with red meat dishes, as well as chili, stew, pork tenderloin, souvlaki and mild curries. For dessert, enjoy it alongside chocolate fondue.

Priced under $20, I consider this Merlot “The Great One” of wines from the Niagara region. A portion of proceeds from Wayne Gretzky wines is donated to the Wayne Gretzky Foundation, which helps provide less fortunate youth with opportunities to enjoy the sport of hockey.

For upcoming sales and tastings of this wine join us at or email us at for more information on this or other Wayne Gretzky wines.

Household Hints by Rosemary ~ Cat and Dog Trips

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Vacations are great, the whole family is in on the fun and in many cases so are the family pets. Whether it's a day trip or a week away in the car, when you are travelling with animals just like children you must be prepared. Keep in mind their comfort and needs as well as requirements for overnight stays, border crossings and animal restrictions. If you're doing a beach holiday check on regulations as many will not allow dogs or they are confined to one area. Call ahead to avoid nasty surprises.

Always carry the animal's health records, have all shots up to date, if available their pedigree papers, water and food bowls and stress relieving items such as their blanket or familiar toys. When booking a facility be sure they are animal friendly. Find out if there are insects in the area that may compromise the health of your pet, such as deer ticks, then discuss protection with your veterinarian.

Hopefully your pet is accustomed to car drives, if not prepare them in advance by taking short drives at moderate speeds. Cats should be kept in a carrier secured with a seat belt, as well as small to medium sized dogs unless they are very comfortable in a car and calm during the trip. However a carrier lends protection to the animal in the event of an accident and would be a preferred method of travel.

If the animal does get stressed, or if your dog is barking at other passing vehicles, cover the carrier or the window with a light blanket. Make plenty of stops for watering and exercise.

Although it's fun to watch a dog stick his head out the window and face into the wind this habit can cause harm, such as eye damage. A window should be open for air circulation, but not enough that the dog can get his whole head out, just sufficient that he can sniff the breeze and have fresh air.

If your pet suffers car sickness, then it's best to leave them at a care facility or at home with a pet sitter where they would be more comfortable. But, if you must take them with you, before leaving take them out to exercise, feed them a small meal and keep food and water during the trip to a minimum.

If you pet is not comfortable with strangers, for their own protection as well as other people and animals, leash them and have them under your control at all times. This is particularly important if you are in an area far from home, or with lots of crowds. If you must leash a cat, use a body harness. Someone asked about taking an animal along for a fireworks display and I can't think of anything that would upset an animal more than huge bangs in the sky and the smell of fire; LEAVE THEM HOME or don't attend the event.

Be aware of the temperature and protect the animal appropriately, use shades on windows so that they aren't in direct sun or heat in the summer and maintain a moderate heat in the winter.

In all cases, common sense should be used when travelling, then the vacation will be pleasurable for everyone, including the family pet.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Critically Speaking ~ The Lex Files: Beef on a Bun

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I love Rodeo Season. After all, it's not just any sport where you can, with just a little seasoning, eat what you ride! With Alberta roasting and boasting the best beef in the world, I saddled up and hit the happy trails in search of a recipe that would make a cowpoke proud. Red Seal Chef, Steve Thibodeau, ponied up his simple and savory Beef on a Bun recipe that's so good, you'll wanna pull your pistols and slap your chaps!

2 – 3lbs Roast (Eye of Round, Sirloin Tip, Inside Round)
1 Onion (diced)
4-6 Garlic Cloves (chopped)
Steak Spice
1 Bottle Bulls Eye BBQ Sauce (your choice of flavour)
Monterey Jack Cheese (or your favourite cheese)

Coat roast well with oil and steak spice and cook it in the oven until medium/well; about 2 hours at 375 degrees.
Allow roast to cool (for best results, cool overnight).
Slice thinly (1/4” to 1/8” slices).
Sautee diced onion and garlic cloves in oil on medium high until tender, Add sliced beef and the full bottle of Bulls Eye BBQ sauce. Fill BBQ bottle half full with water and add to mixture to thin the sauce. Simmer the mixture on low-medium heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
The goods are ready when the meat falls apart and the sauce has re-thickened.
Serve on toasted Kaiser buns with garlic butter and a slice of Monterey Jack or your favourite cheese.

Strike while the iron's hot and enjoy corn on the cob, coleslaw or potato side dishes with this saucy slice of Cowboy Country.

Until Lex time, speak your mind but ride a fast horse!

Visit Lex Monoxide on Facebook for more recipes, food news and restaurant reviews.

Views on Vision ~ Matt's Story Part IV By Dr. Charles A. Boulet

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It seems clear to me that Matt's trouble in school, while influenced in part by his experiences at home (a move and divorce), can be largely attributed to visual dysfunction, starting with a crippling glasses prescription, blindness, motor control problems and perceptual trouble (memory in particular). The physical pain and discomfort caused by his untrained and uncorrected vision almost certainly has been a major contributing factor to his irritability and lack of patience. It's also easy to think that being distracted by bad vision and all the problems it brings can lead to memory problems. The fact that Matt went through three years of troubled schooling with no one suggesting a visual assessment shines a light on the need for teacher training in this area.

While results from formal psychological assessment are not available, I'm highly doubtful that Matt is dyslexic or has any other significant reading or learning disability. He does have some severe visual dysfunction interfering in multiple ways, and this must be addressed if he is to have an equal opportunity in the schools.

What is most troublesome is that the Matts of the world usually slip through the cracks in the system and if they are caught, most often this is by accident, or after tragedy at school. The schools don't generally look for this, nor do family doctors, pediatricians or psychologists - with very few exceptions.

Who pays for this? While 25% of children in schools have some sort of significant (moderate to severe) visual dysfunction, the Province contributes only a fraction of the cost of care and the schools will provide nothing. Generally speaking, the parents are left with the lion's share of costs of care, even though this is often the only real effective treatment option for children.

There are, however, large pools of money available for reading remediation and comprehensive psychological assessments - neither of which yield any significant therapeutic benefit when visual dysfunction remains unchecked. Seems obvious, but the schools remain resistant to even consider vision as a possible cause of poor performance and behaviour.

Matt is not the only child having significant academic trouble, just a special one in light of the additional burden he's had to carry. Schools can do much better for children like Matt and their parents by taking the time to educate and refer to specialists as soon as there is any doubt at all why a student has a problem. In Matt's case, it was his mother who kept pushing for assistance and only three years later did she get any sort of helpful response. It seems tragically illuminating that schools are quick to shuffle children around and recommend pills to behave properly, but have yet to recognize the importance of basic physiology (proper functioning of all body systems and senses) in any treatment plan.

As it stands, there are many hundreds of children in every school division across this Province who are lagging behind because of visual dysfunction alone. For the most part, that is where things will remain unless and until we, health care and education professionals, can elevate the discussion on their behalf.

Dr. Boulet is a former teacher and now operates Diamond Valley Vision Care in Black Diamond where he continues to work with children with learning difficulties.
Call 403-933-5552 and

Parts 1, 2 and 3 of  Matt’s Story can be read online at:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Board Of Education Says French Is History

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By Todd Curran

The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) recently sent a letter home to parents advising them that the mandatory core French program in Grades 4 to 9 will be discontinued as of the 2011-12 school year.
“This is a giant step backwards for French Second Language Education in Calgary,” says Michael Tryon, Executive Director of Canadian Parents for French-Alberta Branch. CBE advised CPF Alberta that the decision as to whether French will be taught in grades 4-6 will now be made by individual school principals in consultation with the community, staff, parents and other stakeholders.

For Grades 7 to 9, registration in a second language will be available in all schools. Those enrolled in French will continue to receive instruction until all students currently in French are finished. “All Canadian students have the right to receive education in both of Canada's official languages,” says Tryon, “and CPF Alberta have fought since 1978 for the right of Alberta's students to receive a French Second Language Education.”
Canadian Parents for French is the national network of volunteers which values French as an integral part of Canada and is dedicated to the promotion and creation of French-second-language learning opportunities for young Canadians. There are currently 26,000 members across Canada and 3,500 in Alberta.

CPF Alberta believes that by making a second language optional, our students will be positioned even farther behind in our global economy and society compared to their counterparts around the world.

Visit for more information.

Spotlight On Our Communities ~ Cayley and Calgary: Evergreen Estates

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Snuggled in the foothills, surrounded by a successful agricultural heritage is the serene hamlet of Cayley. As a close community with "family" as their top priority, the population has grown with young families. These residents have chosen Cayley specifically for two reasons: one being the lower cost of housing on today's market and second as an escape from the pressures of a large metropolis where safety concerns are growing daily.

Cayley is also home to a Hutterite colony and a colony school. In 2001, two Cayley Colony girls were the first students from an Alberta colony school to write provincial diploma exams and graduate from high school.
Just 73 kilometers south of Calgary and 13 kilometers south of High River, Cayley sits conveniently within commuting and business distance of two major centres. Also, being in southern Alberta has its benefits, with British Columbia lying just beyond the magnificent Rocky Mountains to the west and the United States border crossing only a scenic two hour drive away.

Come visit southern Alberta hospitality at its finest in Cayley!

Calgary: Evergreen Estates
Evergreen Estates is a suburban residential neighbourhood in the south-west quadrant of Calgary, located south of the Fish Creek Provincial Park, and south-east from the Tsuu T'ina first nation reserve.
This 99 hectare parcel of land is being developed as a low density residential community with a central open space to form the hub of a linear park system accommodating pathways linking the adjoining communities to Fish Creek Provincial Park.

Evergreen Estates is the older and more established section of Evergreen. The two sections have separate community associations and street naming patterns. All streets with "Evergreen" in their name are members of the Shawnee-Evergreen Community Association, which includes Evergreen Estates along with the neighbouring community Shawnee Slopes.

The Calgary Board of Education recently opened the new Evergreen Elementary School, which accommodates Kindergarten to Grade 4 students residing in Evergreen and Evergreen Estates.

For more information please visit the Community Association's website at

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mini Museum

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By Todd Curran

A new Nanton tourist attraction celebrating its grand opening on April 30th offers a little insight into history.
After 10 successful years in Cardston, Museum of Miniatures owners Roy and Carol Whitman have moved their 1/12 scaled exhibit to Nanton. Visitors to the museum go back to the time of settlers in covered wagons, native villages and thriving pioneer forts.

Making nearly everything from scratch, the couple's attention to detail is remarkable; buffalo herds graze in open fields, forests spring to tiny life with wild animals and a thriving western town buzzes with figurines frequenting the blacksmith shop, stables, church and other staples of Old West life.

Roy made all the buildings and each building has a shake roof, which meant putting 25,000 miniature shakes on by hand. Connecting the buildings is a boardwalk made of over 700 planks. This latest exhibit took 7 years to complete, and the Whitmans are proud to show it off.

Located at 2120 19th Street, Nanton, the museum is open seasonally from May 1st to October 31st, from 10am - 6pm, with admission fees ranging from $3.50 for youth to an $18 family rate. Children six and under see for free and group rates are available.

Call 403-646-3235 or visit: for more information.