Fields of Chocolate! My Elite 8 Choices…



Shavasana time…

… the lights go dim, a dozen of us laying zombie-like on rubber yoga mats over the padded flooring.

Quiet sounds of breathing are interrupted only by the mellifluous voice of Marsha’s repetitively intoning RELEASE… RELAX… AND JUST LET GO…

In the following few minutes I begin to discern a hint or two of snoring or heavier breathing… those who have JUST LET GO. My body is afloat in a salty sea… time loses meaning…

I release, I relax, but I never JUST LET GO… let’s call my state as one of meditation and deeper thought… and tonight my deeper thoughts take me into the dreamy realm of CHOCOLATE.

W-W-What?? Yes, chocolate. But how did I ever arrive there of all places?

Each year (we’ve been attending Marsha’s yoga classes for maybe 16 or 17 years now) during the holiday season, while doing Shavasana, Marsha creeps stealthily through the laid out yogis – like Santa coming down a child’s chimney – putting little chocolate favours at the end of each mat to be magically discovered when we “awaken” post-Shavasana.

Yes Virginia, not only is there a Santa Claus, but there is also a Marsha.


It surprises me that after writing 552 blog posts and alluding to my love of chocolate on dozens of occasions, I’ve not yet written a blurb here specifically about my passion for chocolate. Yes indeed, I’m staggered.

But honestly, I’m not an aficionado of anything that smacks of ambrosia, luscious, lip-smacking… wine, beer, cheese… not even chocolate. But I know what I enjoy as well as the next plebeian.

So don’t try and foist any of that waxy Allen’s chocolate nonsense on me, I’ll be neither amused nor tempted.

Also, you’d best proffer me milk chocolate and not the dark versions loved by so many others.

There are 100’s of varieties and forms of chocolate available in our wonderful world of confections… so many that it can be a mammoth chore at times making a choice of which to favour my taste buds.

I must be selectively choosy in order to avoid malignant rotundity… I already suffer from early-onset puerile plumpness.

So today, this choosiness results in a Top 8 list… yup, an elite 8 of my very favourite chocolate bars available in the Canadian market.

Please feel free to enlighten me of a loving favourite in your home country’s marketplace/petrol station/General Store.

Will you stay with me? Will you be my love?
Among the fields of chocolate
We’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in fields of chocolate
…. (with apologies to Sting)

Let’s raise a bar and take a bite from these fields of chocolate (in no particular order):

  • FRUIT AND NUT – Creamy milk chocolate, plump raisins and crunchy almonds complete this Cadbury’s chocolate bar. Fruit and Nut was introduced as part of the Dairy Milk line in 1926. Cadbury created a furor amongst its fans in 2015 when it substituted “sultanas” for “raisins” in the Fruit and Nut bar. Here’s something I didn’t know before (source Wikipedia): Raisins and sultanas are both dried grapes, but there is a difference between raisins and sultanas. Raisins are made by allowing grapes to dry naturally in the sun, while sultanas are treated with an oil-based solution before drying to speed up the process. This results in a lighter color for sultanas compared to the dark brown color of raisins. Additionally, sultanas are typically smaller in size and sweeter in taste than raisins.
  • MR. BIG– Not only a Sex And The City character, Mr. Big is truly a BIG candy bar; it’s the biggest chocolate bar produced by Cadbury in Canada (around 8 inches in length). Mr. Big is also available in Hungary, Poland, and some areas of the United States. It’s filled with vanilla wafer coated in caramel and rice crisp and coated in milk chocolate.
  • JERSEY MILK Jersey Milk is a simple, yet creamy and delicious chocolate bar that was first introduced in 1924. Initially owned by Neilson, today, this historic favourite is kept alive by Cadbury Canada… it’s pure Milk Chocolate for the soul. This was my childhood favourite and was sold in little individual bite-sized packages at corner stores.
  • BIG TURK – A classic Turkish delight chocolate bar coated in milk chocolate, made by Nestle Canada. Many Canadians have a love/hate relationship with this mysterious chocolate bar. It’s a combination of red jelly coated in a thin, light layer of chocolate. Super sweet, super yummy!
  • WUNDERBARWunnerful wunnerful is Cadbury’s Wunderbar. Wunderbar in German translates to marvellous. Cadbury Canada makes this candy bar at their chocolate factory in downtown Toronto. The Wunderbar is creamy peanut butter mixed with light rice crisps and delicious caramel and engulfed in milk chocolate. Soft and chewy scrumptiousness.
  • BOUNTYBounty Coconut Bar consists of a flaky coconut filling coated with creamy milk chocolate. Bounty is made by Mars Canada in Bolton, Ontario. Bounty Chocolate bars come divided in two distinct halves for sharing- yeah, right!!
  • OH HENRY – The Canadian Oh Henry is sold through Hershey and made in Ontario. This bar has fudge in the middle, then a thin layer of caramel, then nuts that are surrounded by the final chocolate layer. There is a popular legend that says that there was a boy named Henry who came to George Williamson’s Kansas candy store frequently. This young man became a favourite of the young women working at the store and his popularity with the staff led Williamson to name the candy bar after him. In this story, the ladies in the shop were always saying, “Oh, Henry,” to the boy and the name stuck to him.
  • REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUPSReese’s Peanut Butter Cups were invented by Harry Burnett Reese, in 1928. Harry was actually employed by Milton S. Hershey. Harry and Milton had quite a close friendship. Hershey inspired Reese, and like a good friend he supported and encouraged Harry in his peanut butter cup endeavour as a basement sideline. Of course, Reese would only ever use Hershey’s chocolate! Reese had his hands full, not only as the maker of Peanut Butter Cups, but also the father of 16 children! He never expected his Peanut Butter Cups to explode the way they did. He was just trying to provide a little extra income for his family. The Hershey’s Chocolate Company, which had always inspired Reese, bought his company after his death for $23.5 Million.


As a whispered-in-your-ear postscript to all of these sweet nothings, I have to add a big thumbs down to CRISPY CRUNCH, SKOR, and CRUNCHIE chocolate bars; you’ve likely heard the nickname tequila is given… “panty remover“… I’ll add my own nickname for these candy bar treats… “dental filling remover“!!

OK… I’m releasing myself back to Shavasana… Ommmmmm…. maybe “Santa” will visit again and bring me even more delectable ideas!

Adding Some S&P to Your Investment Nest Egg

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Humpty Dumpty had a good 2022 compared to me. I’m talking my stock investments, not wall-sitting.

OMG… I hate writing these year-end investment blog posts when my Net Worth has dipped… it hurts me almost as much as when Louise C. went home from the Grade 6 Sock Hop with another boy after I paid her admission cost of 10 cents… humiliating!

But – and I’m almost over Louise now – you need to learn to accept the bitter with the sweet… 2021 was sweet… 2022… most bitter! Did you fare better than I?

I’m just rolling with the punches since I’ve been here a few times over the past 50 years; I survived the crash of ’87 and ’08. Last year wasn’t anywhere near as gnarly as those two years.

I take solace as I look back over the past 2 decades when I see I’ve had only 4 “down” years compared to 16 prosperous ones.

But why do I manage my own investment portfolio when there are scads of investment advisors waiting by their phones to help out?

Mainly because it’s so much fun. Investing for financial independence and protecting my money against inflation are mere side (but important) benefits.

My mother started me down this path of investing when I was 10 years old and I’ve never lost the joy of reading and researching the financial structure of the companies that are the backbone of our western society.

I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have the “interest”, it’s as fine a head challenge as playing chess.

My first stock purchase way back in 1967 was St. Lawrence Cement. The company still exists today (in Mississauga) under the name CRH Canada. I wonder how many millions I would have made if I still held those shares! 

What fool would ditch a face like this at the Sock Hop?
  • Back to the future… it’s 2023 today so let’s look at some numbers from 2022 cuz I’m a Number’s Guy.
  • Here’s how markets fared as a whole last year:
  • TSX (Toronto) … -8.66%
  • Dow 30 (New York)… -8.78%
  • S&P 500 (New York)… -19.44%
  • NASDAQ (New York) … -33.10%
  • My Combined (RRSP and TFSA) Portfolios … -7.78%

… not a single positive number in the batch. It’s a relative horror show when compared with my personal return of +16.8% in 2021.

These are all ugly numbers representing the biggest drops in over a decade.

The only reason the Toronto Exchange and the Dow 30 didn’t suffer much larger losses is because of the outsized gains by Oil & Gas companies (eg. Chevron) which saw high commodity prices resulting from the Ukraine invasion by Russia.

I personally don’t invest in the oil and gas sector (aside from pipelines). I also won’t invest in tobacco, alcohol or weapons’ makers. My vice list is long enough without adding these to my resumé.

Just about everything took a tumble last year, so I’ll just list the top 10 companies (in declining order) in my combined portfolios, all of which I’m very happy holding onto for what, hopefully, will be a great 2023.

Patience is all-important when building wealth.

  • APPLE (Technology)
  • ENBRIDGE (Pipelines)
  • ROYAL (Bank)
  • CVS (Pharmacy)
  • BCE (Bell Canada- Telecom)
  • AT&T (Telecom)
  • Bank of Nova Scotia (Bank)
  • AMAZON (Technology)
  • BRISTOL Myers Squibb (Pharmaceutical)
  • A&W (Food consumable)

Take away Amazon and every one of these companies pays a healthy dividend that increases every year in recent history. Rising dividends are magical words to me.

I won’t predict where my net worth will be a year from now… I hope yours will fly high.

I’ve sent out all the King’s horses and all the King’s men to help resurrect the Annus Horribilis that just passed.


And to finish up here today, I’ll start with the famous three words that Steve Jobs used to tease before unveiling something special and notable (like the new iPhone)…

One last thing” … I’ve come to believe in strongly, and an avenue that leads to a happier place inside us, is sharing the wealth and time we have to help others, even if only a little. We’ve all been given a bonus gift of being born into a rich life that affords us the opportunity – whether it be through sharing our money wealth, or our time and energy – to assist others. The real bonus here is that when we help others, it magically increases our own happiness.


The Unexpected Surprises of Inisherin

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Wanna see a grown man cry?

Of course you don’t. And don’t worry. I won’t be the cause of any lacrymal flooding this time around, but…

… it was disappointing when the movie The Banshees of Inisherin didn’t ever come to my local theatre. Bah Humbug says I!

One of the most difficult parts – for me – of living through the COVID era (are we truly through the COVID era yet, or are we part of an unending Twilight Zone episode of human history?) was an inability to visit the Landmark 7 movie theatres in Penticton.

Difficult for 2 reasons:

  1. Theatres offer disgustingly unhealthy popcorn that I admit to gobbling down like the Jaws beast chewing on Robert Shaw, yes? Do NOT sit in front of me in a cinema if you don’t wish a fluffy snowshower of popcorn dross.
  2. The movie experience is multiple times more enjoyable when it is uninterrupted by phones, doorbells, and errant ADHD thoughts that need attending to immediately. Plus, the sound and visual qualities are at superhuman scale. Movies seen on a TV screen are never as satisfying. Can we agree? Case closed.

The movie theatres have reopened now… and I’m finding more and more that they’re being gummed up with countless crash and bang MARVELlous superhero and raucous Vin This and Rock That kind of flicks that have little appeal beyond the tweens and 20’s crowd that crave non-stop action and explosives.

Yes, I’m growing old and my demographic isn’t in vogue for theatrical releases.


So what is MY demographic?

Well, I really enjoy thought-provoking, dialogue-heavy, mixture of comedy/drama… films. Could be rom-coms (When Harry Met Sally, Serendipity)

… or buddy flicks (Butch Cassidy, Rainman, Thelma and Louise)

… or historic (Schindler’s List, Dances With Wolves, All The President’s Men)

… or a clever comedy (Life of Brian, Deadpool, Fargo)

… or anything written by Aaron Sorkin.



To whit… The Banshees of Inisherin… is a buddy flick… a saga of requited love turning unrequited… bromance gone sour.

Two of my current favourite actors, and the co-stars of “The Banshees…” are Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. Loved them both in the 2008 movie, In Bruges.

They are the quintessential “opposites attract” personalities, the odd couple that produces a hilarious mismatch of intention and action.

So where’s this surprise you’ve mentioned Larry?

This story today contains a double surprise:

The first was, even though the movie is still in theatres (just not mine), it is also available on Disney+ streaming, which my son-in-law set up on my screen during the Christmas break. No additional cost. A great bargain for watching a movie I’d been waiting to see for months. Of course it was minus the popcorn, but fortunately, alas, we do hold black belts in kitchen popcorn making. Presto… as efficient as waving my Harry Potter wand, we had popcorn and The Banshees of Inisherin on our home screen. It really is magic. That’s surprise #1.

Surprise #2 is – without giving plot-lines away – I was expecting a fun, funny, laugh-a-minute buddy comedy with a tiny bit of despondency and bittersweetness, adorned with a beautiful bonus of sensational Irish countryside. Well, turn that around and you have the real story to this flick. It’s filled with heartbreaking pathos with a few side glimmers of humour, none of it uproarious. WTH!!

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this movie. The acting, writing, photography were all wonderful.

The film is worth watching if only for the bucolic scenery of County Galway and County Mayo’s Aran Islands, off Ireland’s west coast. The rock fences, the ocean vistas, the lush farmlands, provide graceful panoramas of Elysian fields.

And despite the melancholy impression left afterwards, I still haven’t lost my boy crush on actors Gleeson and Farrell.

I just wanted a syrupy buddy movie where the main protagonists come together, finally, in the end like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, and live happily ever after.

Was this too much to ask for my sentimental heart?

To my surprise, the answer was… laconically… AYE…

PS. Tissue alert: Farrell’s pet donkey will bring as many tears as any character on the screen this year…

The Cat In The Hat is Waiting for…


… Godot? … The bus?… The end?… Hell to freeze over?


Happy New Year my friends… welcome to a shiny, brand new 2023 blog post!

I hate waiting… I love waiting… yin and yang… blessings and curses…

… it’s about impatience… it’s about eagerness… it’s about aging… it’s about anticipation… it’s about expectation…

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known“… Carl Sagan

So what am I waiting for?

No delays for you… no waiting today with an Auld Lang Syne New Year upon us…


Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite.

Or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break

or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance.

Everyone is just waiting“… Dr. Seuss


Let’s go right into my “waiting list”, both positive and negative… some may contain elements of both. … I’m (You’re) waiting for:

  1. my knees or hips or feet to tell me I can’t run or cycle any more – so many folks I’ve known over the years tell me that their joints just aren’t up to it any longer. My day will come, I’m certain, I just don’t know when yet. Today is not that day…
  2. my Apple shares to reach $200 … again, today is not that day, but hopefully this year!
  3. words to come to me while writing this blog
  4. my urethra to lock up and say, “that’s it, no more pee coming through here until you take a pill or go under the knife to have that prostate whittled down.”
  5. a highly anticipated movie that’s been advertised for months… and the buttery popcorn that is the real attraction.
  6. a special, perfect gift to be opened that I’ve purchased for a loved one
  7. a Hawaiian pizza (or turkey) cooking in the oven – ah, the smells…
  8. for a moment of intense anger (road rage perhaps?) to pass before doing or saying anything – this is such an important life skill that I know can save immense emotional distress in so many circumstances
  9. the first perfect day of spring when I can sit outside in a t-shirt and enjoy a light beer or tea in total, blissful comfort
  10. the moment my wife or, in more recent years, daughter, blessedly walks through the door after I’ve spent the entire day with zestful young kids who are a total delight but an incredible energy drain’er
  11. my toes to feel the sand shimmy between them on a Caribbean beach for the first moment after a long plane trip
  12. the moment when you know you’ve “mastered” a skill after days/weeks/years of practice… a choir song, a golf shot, a tennis lob, a guitar/mandolin lick
  13. the last second to tick off in a championship winning game either as a participant or a spectator…
  14. bigotry, misogyny, sexism, ageism, intolerance in a hundred forms…. to drop off the edge of this flat earth (did I misunderstand something in my geography class?)
  15. the exhilaration of crossing the finish line of a running race… long or short distance, the build-up of pain that comes, and then the release that is a huge catharsis afterwards (sound like sex?)
  16. the return of a prized TV series where you finally find out … who REALLY shot JR!!!??
  17. the world envisioned by Dr. MLK in his essay/book WHY WE CAN’T WAIT, to be realized
  18. and finally… death – when the final breath arrives and a lengthy life story with a thousand and one elements has come to a close…


OK, I’ll just gonna sit here and tap my toes a bit longer, but my late bus of patience might just cause me to scream… no no no Larry…. don’t break your first New Year’s resolution THAT fast!

Yoga breath! Ommmmmm… Prospero Año Nuevo a Todos…


Too much New Years’ Midnight Champagne for me!