Saturday, June 15, 2019

9 Master Chef Canada Secrets Revealed!!!

My cousin’s kid just won Master Chef Canada. Jennifer Crawford is Canada’s coolest and smartest
REFLECTING ON FAMILY: Jenn's so brilliant
you need shades.
cook. Here’s 9 things about this kitchen wizard you won’t find anywhere else.

1)      Jenn's mom is Joan. I know. Joan Crawford. As in Mommie Dearest. It’s a cliché everybody knows based on a book nobody’s read and when I Googled the book to ensure I got the title correct, I learned the writer, Christina Crawford, exaggerated a lot and Crawford the actor may have had issues but she was nowhere near the demon Christina made her out to be in fact her other kids had wonderful loving stories to tell about their mom. But that’s got precious little to do with the subject at hand, I just thought it was interesting.

2)    Speaking of names, Jennifer calls me a “newfounduncle,” because even though Jenn's lived in Toronto 10 or so years, we connected only eight months ago. Jenn was raised in a teensie place called Kingston, Nova Scotia. I now know three people from Kingston. One is Master Chef Jennifer, who has at least two university degrees and can bench press more than my weight; then there’s Jenn's big brother Lucas, a full university professor, and finally, my musician friend Dr. Michael Thibodeau, who has a Ph freaking D in piano, from the University of Toronto. All that brainpower from one tiny outta-the-way place! "So," I asked Michael: “What’s in the water?” Michael’s response? “Keith’s.”

ONLY THE POM POMS ARE MISSING: Jenn's cheering squad
(photo by Brilynn Ferguson)
3)   He meant Keith’s the beer. And for some reason, I’m reminded of the only Karl Marx quote I know: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Here’s why: A few days before the Master Chef finale, which was last Monday, Jenn texted me from Nova Scotia. Jenn was coming back to T.O. for the showing of the final episode and the plan? Host a few dozen closest friends and family at a viewing party. Ingredient number-one: a Toronto bar that would turn its TV screens over to Master Chef. Problem number-one? The Raptors. All the places Jenn phoned said their screens would be all basketball, all evening.  Nobody’d seen that coming. “Who,” Jenn must have wondered, “would be the one person in Toronto most capable of finding me a bar when I need it?”

4)    Tu-duh! Newfounduncle Pete! Jenn knew if anybody was up to that job, it was me. So, in the company of Newfoundaunt Helena, I bravely ventured out that very evening, visiting bar after bar until eventually stumbling upon the congenial and welcoming Elvyra Beniusyte behind the bar at a place called Bar Lokys, just a few blocks from our house. Elvyra, who immigrated from Vilnius just three months(!) ago loved the idea and helped make the viewing party happen. (P.S. If I were looking to hire a multi-lingual university grad with extraordinary interpersonal communication skills and expertise in data analysis, I’d hire Elvyra in an instant. Just sayin’. Like I said, each according to his ability.)

5)     Jenn’s  cooking was what won the prize but I’m thinking the judges were clinched by that all-encompassing smile.
RAPTOR RIVAL  Master barkeep Elvyra, Master Chef Jenn, and
 Ed, on left (where you'll always find him.)

6)     That said, play poker with Canada’s newest Master Chef at your peril. Jenn Crawford might well have the most expressive face you’ve ever laid eyes on but get this: Filming ended a few months before the party at Bar Lokys. During that time, I’d been in touch with Jenn a lot. But ... crickets. Even in Bar Lokys, surrounded by fans, as the final moments neared and it was down to Jenn and one Andre Bahgwandat. Faces toward the TV, most of us were holding our breath as top chef Michael Bonacini said “Canada’s new master chef is…..” and the camera zoomed in to Jenn’s and Andres’s faces.  When Bonacini said “Jennifer” the champ Monday looked as surprised as the rest of us.  (If I tried to keep a secret like that the top of my head would blow off.)
(photo by Brilynn Ferguson)

7)     In addition to charm one of the appetizers that helped Jenn clinch it was a delicacy with the too-gross-by-half name “Ants On A Log.”  Ants. On. A. Log. Yummy! The main ingredient: Blue Cheese! Usually when I think of blue cheese, what comes to mind is when the hero in Woody Allen’s sci-fi spoof Sleeper used its pungency to subdue a bad guy. But after Master Chef? A spoonful of Ants on A Log seems like a great idea.

8)     Not that this should come as a surprise to anybody but after meeting my brother Ed the first time,  Jenn described him as “so charismatic.” You talk like that about Ed and you're my new best friend.

9)    Which reminds me. When Ed did his stand-up routine at 2nd City earlier this year, the host, Evan Carter, introduced him with “He’s the uncle all the nieces and nephews think is funniest.” Turns out my newfound niece Jenn is just as sweet and as astonishing as any of my oldfound nieces, and that, friends, is saying something.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Why having fun at the dentist is as easy as pulling teeth.

INSERT: Spittin'-image pun here
Had my teeth cleaned yesterday at my local, Pacific Dental.

I always look forward to those visits.

Everybody at Pacific Dental is talkative and interesting; they have very comfortable dental chairs and piped-in classical music.

The only downside is, at the dentist's -- for long moments at a time -- I have to do something I find quite difficult and that's not talk.

But otherwise? Those visits are little recesses from life.

I once asked Pacific's resident dentist, Doctor David Sacoransky -- when he thought a task was difficult -- if he described it as "like pulling teeth".

"No," he said. "I say something is like pulling teeth when it's easy."

Wouldn't you want a dentist who talks like that?

And yesterday ... yesterday ... fact is, I'd been looking forward to yesterday's visit since early March.

Because in early March, my wife Helena and I were lucky enough to tour -- I know  you're going to be jealous -- the Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore, Maryland, and ever since, I'd been itching to tell everybody at Pacific Dental.

None of them had heard about the museum, so they were a great audience; I felt like one of those brave men or women long ago who'd travel to, say, Borneo, and then come home and wow the local Rotary Club with tales of their adventures.

One of the highlights of the dental museum -- but you already probably guessed this -- was the salon given over to saliva.

Did you know that every day, we each produce about six litres or maybe it's gallons of  the stuff?

At one point yesterday, the following exchange took place.

Me: "There's a part of one gallery in the museum devoted to George Washington's false teeth."

Dr. David: "They were wooden."

Me: "Nope! They were not! That was part of the mystique. Everybody thinks George Washington had wooden teeth but it's a myth."

Then I mentioned Doc Holliday, the famous deadly gunfighter who was supposedly in scores of gunfights in the old west, and who was also a dentist and whose picture hangs in Baltimore.

Dr. David was up on Holliday and had this to say:"Yeah he was also the sheriff and doctor I think. In Arizona in a town near Tuscon."

From the comfort of Dr. David's chair, I Googled Doc Holliday and learned that he never actually shot that many people; in fact maybe just two, tops.

Dr. David again: "So that's a myth, too?"

Pacific Dental: Educational and fun besides.

One time I was there talking with Paula the charming hygienist about how when we're kids we all practise saying our names backwards and we were laughing and in walks Dr. David. He asked what we were on about, I told him, and he was like, "You mean like yksnarocaS?"

Just like that as if he'd been rehearsing all afternoon, and names like his are no walk in the park frontwards or backwards.

They probably think I'm odd.

But yesterday, it occured to me why I enjoy the dentist so much.

INSERT: Me and my big mouth pun here.
Go back up to the first paragraph: Comfortable chair. Piped-in classical music. Cordial, fascinating staff.

Then there's this..

I was having my teeth cleaned. Not fixed; not removed or filled.

Cleaned. And polished. (Or, as I said to Paula, "paula-ished.")

Never, in any society in any period of time, anywhere on the planet, did regular schmoes like me actually have the time, resources or inclination to have their teeth cleaned.

Throughout all of history until, like, just recently, guys my age were lucky to have teeth. In fact, they were lucky if they got to be my age.

But me?

I was born in the most luxurious, convenient and healthy time EVER. As I said to my neighbour Bill who I ran into on my way home today, "If I wanted a kiwi fruit right now, I could get one."

Not sure why I wander around in this constant state of dumbass wide-eyed amazement but there you are.

Finally, speaking of saliva, sometimes, when I start listing all the reasons I'm lucky to be alive here and now, --"Crime rates are down! We can buy groceries in the middle of the night! None of  my generation got keelhauled off to war! World poverty is going down! (Look it up!!) We can Google historic data from the dentist chair!"--I get so irritating it's enough to make me gag.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Holy Week Batman!

YOURS, MINE AND HOURS AND HOURS: Good Friday meant serving serious time
at St. Clement's, up the street from our house .
All year long, in my various capacities as husband, father, editor and nice guy, I write a lot of emails.

And typically, I sign off with versions of "Have a fun Thursday" or "Enjoy your afternoon" or  maybe "Hope you have an interesting evening."

I sometimes go with "Have a good Friday," but I immediately append that with "not in the Jesus sense of Good Friday, but you know..."

And now here we are: It's almost Good Friday Eve. End of Lent. End of Holy Week. And almost every one of us--Catholics, protestants, everybody!--gets the day off. It's great!

God knows why.

Weird thing is--and I'm sure I'm not alone in this--when I was a little Catholic kid, I loathed Good Friday.

It was the most ironically named worst day of the year.

Good Friday in the Carter household was all about church and suffering.

Sure there was no school, but in the very early years of my schooling, we didn't get "Spring Break" in March, we got "Easter Week" and Good Friday was a signal that the holiday week was coming to a close.

Plus, in the house I grew up, there was nothing remotely positive about this religious holiday.

Some Good Fridays, my mom  made us head up the hill to St. Clement's church twice in a 24-hour period. And the Lenten services were long and torturous and dark with no music to break up the tedium.

All the statues in the church were covered in purple and we always felt sad if not just a bit guilty as if we were just a bit personally responsible about what happened to Jesus.
Give Up For Lent"

To make matters worse, many of us had given up candy for Lent (the 38 days preceding Good Friday) and still had to wait a full two more days for Easter chocolate!

(While I'm on that topic, I could never wrap my head around that chunk of theology. We were encouraged to make sacrifices, like giving up candy for Lent, but underlying it all was this weird  motive. Why were we giving up candy? We were doing it to get to heaven! If we were truly unselfish, wouldn't we be trying to not get to heaven? Of course as I got older I became increasingly at one with Mark Twain, who figured hell would be where the interesting fun and people related to me would be. Is there any smoking or drinking or good old fashioned goofing off or, like, flirting going on in heaven? I digress.)

(Also, my mom was actually a pushover when it came to fasting for Lent and I don't think I ever went a full 40 days without candy, but probably some Catholic kids did. And I digress again.)

Still, Good Friday, when I was a kid, was anything but good.

The stores were closed.

It almost alway rained.

But now?

Most of us get the day off, with pay.

You don't have to shop ahead of time or decorate or choose presents or clean up the house because nobody hosts, like, Good Friday parties.

In fact there's really no reason to get out of bed before noon, and even then you might as well just stay put.

Stores are closed, so you can't make your weekly $175 deposit at Home Hardware.

And did I mention we almost all of us get the day off with pay?

The more I think of it, the more I think they should change the name to Great Friday.

Good Friday is the Roman Catholic Church's no-strings-attached gift to Western Civilization

On second thought, instead of saying "Have a Good Friday," I'm going with, "You're welcome."

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Finally! "The Full Comaneci!"

CLEVELAND ROCKS: But at least one
joint was a real eye-roller.
This short blog has a surprise ending.

I already know that because I told my friend Richard the story you’re about (I hope) to read, and when I got to the end, he literally took a half a step backwards and said, “Man you gotta, like, tell the world about that.”

Here goes.

A few weeks ago, my cell rang in the middle of the afternoon and the caller i.d. showed a long number with “Hong Kong” written under it. Ignoring every instinct in my body to answer the thing, I didn't pick it up.

Same thing happened 24 hours later.

Then a third call, a day later. 

The call on day four came with a twist. Hong Kong left a message. I punched in my password. A female voice in perfect but accented English: “Hi my name is Carol I’m calling from Agoda....”

She went on with the message and wound up with, “Please note it could take up to 30 business days to transfer the amount. Thank you.”

I hung up. In disbelief.

Here’s why. 

A month earlier, my wife Helena and I were going to spend a few days in Cleveland so to find accommodation, I Googled something like “places to stay near the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.”

It came up with an establishment that sounded economical but decent and I booked and used my credit card to pay for two nights.

We drove to Cleveland and drove around until we found the place.

Glad to be done driving, we checked in.


I’ve stayed in some skuzzy joints, but this place outskuzzed them all. It bordered on scary, from the lobby in. I’ll just go into detail about one single lowlight: There was a huge patch of icky wet carpet that we had to walk across to get to the bathroom. From there, it was all downhill.

One night was enough.

Next morning, I courageously told the desk clerk we were leaving and please could we have our second night’s payment refunded?  He looked at his computer and said something like, “You booked through the agency; you have to ask them.”

HARBOUR INN: Was close to but couldn't
compete with our skanky hotel
I didn’t know of any agency. He told me it was called Agoda.

More than a week later, we were back home and I Googled Agoda. It was an online booking service alright, but there was no phone number or street address.

It had a menu to register questions and concerns but in order to do so, you had to fill in things like your order confirmation number and the last four digits of the credit card you used and I had neither handy. 

There was one little space to leave comments so I just fired off the same story you just read including the detail about the smooshy rug and us bailing on the second night but not being able to contact anybody and please could I get my money back. I left my phone number.

Turns out, that’s what the mysterious phone calls were about.

My curt little memo found its way across the globe and somehow somebody somewhere in Asia read it then tried to get hold of me not once, not twice but four times, finally leaving a message telling me I would get the requested refund; an amount of money  which I had—as you might expect—long written off.  


Until proven otherwise, I’m awarding that company called Agoda what I call-- a bit in honour of the famous Romanian gymnast who won a gold in '76 but mostly because I like the way it sounds --“The Full Comaneci!:” 10 outta 10!

Agoda. You read it first here folks. Agoda
(In case you were wondering.)

And that’s what Richard thought I should tell the world about. 

You’d like Richard. 

Smart guy, he is.

And here's a weird thing I just remembered. Many years ago, he diagnosed me as a classic pronoiac.

Pronoia, in case you don’t know, is the opposite of paranoia.

Heres Wikipedia on pronoia: "Where a person suffering from paranoia feels that persons or entities are conspiring against them, a person experiencing pronoia feels that the world around them conspires to do them good.

"In 1993 the writer and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow defined pronoia as "the suspicion the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf."

With stuff like Agoda happening to me on a regular basis, how can I be anything but? 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Postcards from America: Now museum now you don't

What a great idea. Moms--like the two above--
get together to discuss their havoc-creating sons.
My wife Helena and I just returned from a seven-day driving trip around a small part of northeastern United States. I have neither the energy nor the stamps to send out a bunch of postcards, so here--in lieu--I present:

Postcard Number One: The hotel we stayed in our first night in Cleveland might be the scuzziest place I've ever slept and that's going some. It was 10 storeys, brown brick, and otherwise unremarkable. Across the dusty hall from our room, a party was in overdrive at suppertime. Our room was dark, musty, there was no chair and the window looked over an industrial parking lot. The real killer?
Back issues of Pete's Blog&Grille
Between the bed and the bathroom door was a four-foot-by-four-foot patch of carpet that was actually--I'm warning you this part's gross-- moist! Wet. If you wanted to go to the bathroom but not get your feet wet--and who knows what the rug was wet with--you had to sort of run and leap the mooshy part. We booked two nights but stayed one. If you contact me in person I'll tell you the name but it's not a place you'd recognize. Next morning we moved to the Holiday Inn Express a mile north. The upside? From that first dive, there was only one direction this trip could take.

Postcard Number Two: And when I say up, I mean...the valet at the Holiday Inn Express told me that once a week at least, his very Catholic parents and he drive out to Amish country to a tiny crossroads called Windsor where somebody built a 50-foot statue of one of the many incarnations of Jesus’ mommy; specifically, "Our Lady of Guadeloupe." Miracles happen there, he said. Out we went. And he was right about the miracles. We witnessed two: The first? We actually decided to see the place and drove for an hour to get to it, without a map or GPS. The second? The guy who built the statue sold me a DVD so I could, when I got home,  watch the annual "Giant Statue of Our Lady in the Boonies Annual Fireworks Extravaganza." The guy's name is Ed.  

Meet ghost-hunting Marvin
Postcard Number Three: The first morning in Cleveland we headed out to the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame but stopped for coffee at a Dunkin' Donuts. Helena picked up a copy of the newspaper with the best name in the world, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and learned that that very afternoon, the Cleveland Area Paranormal Society was conducting a ghost hunt, complete with divining rods and electromagnetic field detectors, in a nearby graveyard. Admission to the tour was the same as that to the music place. $25. Rock&roll would have to wait.

Postcard Number Four: I honestly forget why we chose Baltimore as our next destination. What's in Baltimore? I mean, what else besides the National Museum of Dentistry where we learned that the average person produces six litres of saliva a day and that George Washington really didn’t have wooden teeth. Or the Baltimore Tattoo Museum where I learned that you're not allowed to take photos inside the museum proper but you can in the can? We also paid our respects at the grave of Elijah Bond, the guy who patented Ouija Boards. I really like Baltimore plus I just remembered why we went. We were going to visit a writer friend named David Kolman. And while we never actually managed to see each other--which doesn't matter between friends--I'm okay with that because David's way funnier than me and he's all I would have heard about on the drive home. 
for itself.

Postcard Number Five:  Now this next part's weird. When we were kids, we had several Ouija Boards around the house and for some eerie reason, I seem to recall that the one sibling who used them most effectively was my sister Norma. When Norma's fingers were on that little heart-shaped thing, it fairly leapt around the board.She also once lived in a haunted apartment in our hometown of  Sudbury.  

Postcard Number Six: True story. I was in high school. Norma and my other sister Bertholde shared a two-bedroom in the middle of  town and it was freakin' haunted. I'll go into more detail in another blog but the place was written up in no less than Canada's foremost women's magazine, Chatelaine, in a story by, well, okay, me. But still. Norma's and Bertholde's ghosts were also investigated by the late ghost detective and professor  Dr. Michael Persinger who didn't believe in ghosts and who died recently.

A LOO WITH A VIEW: Who had an
inkling there'd be a tattoo museum
much less one with this
 bathroom wallpaper?

Postcard Number Seven: And like I told the young man named Jonathan Lestat (honest!) who, with his colleague Marvin Kuzia was leading the ghost walk back in Cleveland, I guess ole Doc. Persinger sure knows now whether there's ghosts or not. Speaking of Docs, did you know that the famous gunslinger Doc Holiday was a dentist? His picture's on the wall in the museum in Baltimore.

Postcard Number Eight: Our last day on the road, we were headed north. We passed a sign advertising the upcoming Zippo Lighter Museum. I didn't say a word but then my wife of 30-odd years casually mentioned, "You want to stop there, don't you?" Turns out Norma's not the only psychic in my life. So stop there we did. And if you were to now say something like, "Geez Peter. Some of us have a life. How much more about this short strange trip of yours do you expect me to read?" I'm going to reply:  "Zippo!"

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Featuring Chatelaine recipes for loaves, fishes and other miracles

Some years ago, I was a Senior Editor of what was — at the time — Canada’s largest and best-known women’s magazine, Chatelaine.

During my time there, under the leadership of editor Rona Maynard, the 91-year-old Chatelaine underwent a very expensive (million bucks, I seem to recall) and radical (stories about sex toys!) makeover.  

After the redesign, not only did Chatelaine have a revitalized look and tone, so did its corporate stationery and stuff, including things like the staff’s business cards.  

At some point during the process, I learned the company would be getting rid of outdated branded materials; and what caught my attention was a bunch of Chatelaine notepads.

“Tossing them,” I thought, “would be a horrible waste.”

I salvaged two boxes. Each was about the size of a two-four.

I’m not sure how many notepads the boxes contained, but I know we shared the bounty with a few of our neighbours, who had children the same age as ours.

And I might check in with one or two of them to see if they still have any Chatelaine notepads left.  

Because we sure do. In fact we never seem to run out.

I just went to make a note to myself about getting our kitchen cupboards refinished and found myself writing it on a Chatelaine notepad. Twenty years in!  

The redesign was in 19-freaking-99.  

Our twin daughters Ev and Ria were eight; our son Michel Josef was seven and between then and now—believe it or not — notes in our house have been written.

Notes to teachers, saying why Ev, Ria or Michel had been away from school.

Notes to the same teachers explaining why Michel, Ria or Ev would be away from school at a later date.

Reminders from one of the adults in the house to the other adult in the house that a furnace repair guy would be showing up Thursday afternoon so could the other adult please work from home that day.

Scribbled doodles that were immediately — upon completion of the phone call to our sister that we were on while we were doodling — crumpled up and  thrown out.

Notes magnetically adhered to the fridge door. Innumerable messages of encouragement tucked into elementary school lunches. (P.S. They took. All three of ours sailed through grade eight!)
COLD HARD FACTS: Legend has it, fridges
have other functions beyond being used as
message boards.

Reminders of doctors’ appointments, including one memorable appointment when Ev and Ria were travelling to the Dominican Republic and had to visit a “tropical disease specialist” who, when the girls arrived in his office, consulted Wikipedia to see what vaccinations they needed. (Which reminds me, we took delivery of this batch of notepaper back before anybody except serious computer nerds had heard of something called Google, much less Wikipedia.)

Chatelaine notepads have served us, over the decades, miraculously.

Notes about minivan transmission repairs; notes pertaining to trips to the vet that would cost us way more money than we’d ever imagined we’d spend on a sick pet. (We once had a guinea pig diagnosed with a malignant growth and the vet suggested treatment. I was like, “It’s a guinea pig! Aren’t we SUPPOSED to do experiments on it?” I was voted down.)

Come to think of it, I’m mostly talking messages that would these days be delivered by text or Facebook—two other things that didn’t exist when we first took delivery of the notepads.  

More than one ever-so-carefully crafted note to one’s spouse explaining why one wasn’t coming home immediately after work, written in the hope that it sounded like I had official work to do, when in fact it was pretty transparent that I was going to a bar with pals.

These notepads have earned their keep. (I really should ask our neighbours if they still have any similarly storied Chatelaine notepads. We could produce a reality tv show.)

Our Chatelaine notepaper shows no signs of depleting. The pads are there whenever I need one. I think  the notepads, like the tribbles in Star Trek, are mysteriously reproducing, down in our basement. 

I'm thinking miracle. Like loaves and fishes. Maybe a shrine's in order.

After all, I’m talking notepads that have saved our marriage. 

I’m also resigned to having Chatelaine notepads around for the rest of my days. 

Indeed it has become a personal goal to hit the finish line before we run out. With luck, whoever pens my obit can do the first draft on a Chatelaine notepad.

I think I just realized another reason I like them so much.

They don’t age. The Chatelaine notepads look the very same as they did 20 years ago.  Just like me.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Finally... after all these years... 10 Uncle Commandments

my mom's brothers, Alex and Stellie
The first dirty joke I ever heard a grownup tell came courtesy of my mother’s brother, Angus Joe MacIsaac. It happened more than 50 years ago but left such an impression that even today, if you phone me, I can tell you the joke. It was about women wearing burlap undies.
I was probably six. We were in Angus Joe's living room, just me, him and his brother — my Godfather — Hugh.

Not only was it the first dirty joke I’d heard an adult tell, it was the first sign I got that there exists—in the same book of universal truths that says “No April Fools’ Jokes After Noon” — An Uncle’s Code of Conduct.
I know this because I had the best uncles possible. My father Tom’s super generous brother Ed was a constant in our life growing up in Sudbury; and my mom’s brothers Angus, Hugh, Alex and Stellie were always there for us, in body as well as in spirit.  (And spirits,  plural, if you catch my drift.) Also, we had my aunts’ husbands. I won’t list them here because it’d take up too much space. They weren’t related by blood but still — uncles we could count on.

With that, and in recognition of Monday, February 18th being the Province of Ontario’s annual “Family Day Holiday,” I have produced the following:

 The Uncle’s 10 Commandments.

1.       Thou shalt see no faults in thy nephews and/or nieces;

2.       Thou shalt brag about thy nieces and nephews whenever thou gets a chance;

3.       Thou shalt keep thy nephews’ and nieces’ secrets, if they want you to. Like if they smoketh cigarettes and desireth to not let on to their folks, you must let them. 

4.       Thou shalt give nephews and nieces money if they need it;

5.       Thou shalt lay a little cash on them even if they don’t need it, too, sometimes;

6.       It goeth without saying that thou shalt always pick up the tab when you go out with them;

7.       Thou shalt allow your nephews or nieces the useth of your vehicle;

8.       Thou shalt aid and abet their artistic endeavours. When I was in university and living with my aunt Leona, we were at her kitchen table one night drinking beer and I happened to be doodling on a piece of paper. She said “Peter! You’re an artist.” Nobody before or since suggested I had any flair for drawing. I’ve clung to Leona’s comment like a drowning man clings to a life raft.  And yes,  I know, Leona wasn’t technically an uncle. But turns out these commandments are gender neutral. Leona — my dad’s sister — was the Nadia Comaneci of aunting; she by whom all other aunts should be measured and deserving of not only her own blog entry but maybe a book on how to aunt. But I digress.)  

9.       Thou shalt NOT expect nephews or nieces to pay any attention to you unless they want to; they have more important things to do for Pete’s sake and are not obliged to worry about their old uncles and aunts.  

10.  But and this one's most important of them all on the off chance that your nephew and/or niece pays any attention to you whatsoever — thou shalt consider thyself the luckiest S.O.B. on the planet.