Ice fishing with Greg

Ice Fishing with Greg

On occasion of my youngest brother, Greg, turning 52 I am posting this picture which is taken on the ice at Dickie Lake probably in 1970.  That would make me almost 8 years old and Greg almost 4 years old as we are both February birthdays.

If you look at our fishing rods, mine is straight and Greg’s is crooked like a stick, because, well… it is a stick.  Did someone tie some mono-filament or maybe the older black nylon fishing line on the end?  Maybe… but twouldn’t really be necessary as we weren’t going to be catching any fish that winter’s day.  I’m guessing that the bait was a small chunk of bacon as worms would have been scarce that time of year and we just always had dad’s bacon available.

Without any doubt we had a childhood that would be hard to duplicate in these days.  The monastic solitude of a winter day at the cottage would not be destroyed by access to the internet, by television or even a fish-finder that might tell us to save our bacon the fish were nowhere to be found.  These were the days that if you had a dad to chop a hole in the ice and some good wet packing snow to make snowmen with then you had everything you needed to keep you occupied, well at least until mom called us for lunch.

Greg, you’ve had the privilege and responsibility to be that dad to your four girls.  I’m quite sure you’ve done a good job in spite of all the distractions that the 21st century muddled our minds with.  We can’t go back to that simpler time, but if there was a time machine and we just had a day, I’d love to go back to the cottage in 1970 and go ice fishing with Greg.

Vanity Fair

On Friday, I decided to end my work day with a walk downtown for a much-needed haircut.  It’s always a pleasant experience for me at Icone Coiffure.  Brenda Desmarais has been cutting my hair for approaching ten years now  – it’s a sure thing.

Another sure thing is that afterwards I take the Sainte Catherine street route home.  Contrary to my wife, Carol, I really like visiting the shops.  So I went that way.

I must say I was disciplined to walk right on by the audio shop where I most recently purchased a centre speaker for my home theatre system.  I considered whether I should look at the next possible addition to the home theatre system, but, like I said, I was disciplined and stayed away on the other side of the street.

Immediately after, I crossed over the street for the H & M store where they promised special one-day only bargains.  H & M specializes in cheap fashion.  When I found the men’s ware – moved from the top floor to the basement floor I thoroughly investigated. I tried on one dark green shirt – seeing if it would go with the dull green pants I was wearing and also enjoined a blue shirt and similarly coloured T-shirt.  Trying them on was a revelation.  Not a pleasant one – my belly, which Carol used to comment on as “cute” now was making me take a pledge to cut down on the food that I’m eating as well as maintaining the winter skating and skiing.  So I decided to leave H & M with no purchase.

Next block – H.M.V.  The liquidation signs in the window were real.  Montreal is losing its last dedicated music store – I mean for CD’s and now DVD movies and TV series and concert DVDs and all kinds of frivolous music and movie merchandise.  I really thoroughly looked through DVD’s.  (Why would I want to own a movie or TV series when I can stream it on demand?)  Descended to what was left of the music industry on CD’s in the basement.  (Why would I want to own music on CD when I can have anything I want for $10 per month on Spotify?).  Left H.M.V. with nothing but a mild depression about the limited revenues left to artists (like Jireh) from recorded music.

When I skate or ski, there is nothing better than to have the right clothing for staying outdoors comfortably for hours.  Decided I might need a better toque and sought to fill that need at Sports Experts.  Up to the third floor where I found where they were hiding winter apparel.  Contemplated the high prices and inadequacy of the toques available.  Looked at high quality long underwear.  You can never have too much of this stuff.  Prices in line with what I might have spent at the audio store.  Decided that the old-fashioned Stanfield long johns that I got from dad were retro-cool.  Left this store down the stairs (they were renovating the escalator) with nothing.  Woops – why do I still have this knit neck warmer still in my hands.  Back up to return it….and exit with no purchase, and no criminal record.

I had a reason to go into Indigo Books, but I don’t recall at the moment what it was.  They have some reasonably-priced books…$6 or so and I looked through those.  Remembered when it used to take a lot longer for this sale browse.  Remembered when I used to occasionally buy books before the e-books at the library became so conveniently available on my iPad.  Similar reflections about the limited revenues left to writers as I had in the H.M.V. store about recorded music.

Then I left Sainte Catherine street and went inside to the parallel underground inter-connected malls.  I can’t remember stopping much here.  Briefly in Winners – but they had no winter-ware.  Into the McGill metro station skipping the last couple of malls and then a brief last chance past racks of clothes in the men’s section at the Bay, up the elevator and north toward home.

At the supermarket just 2 blocks from home I refreshed my memory of my earlier belly-reduction resolution and didn’t buy the 10 lb. bag of potatoes for $2.49 or any of the clearance baked goods.  A bag of quick oatmeal and a can of coconut milk (Kayin’s rice cooked in coconut milk made an impression) and I was on my way home.

Nature will succeed

…with or without my help.

MapleTransplant

    Much of my garden work (serenity therapy) in the spring season involves taking the life that is already happening and arranging it so that it might have a future.  So far in May / June 2015 I have moved around plenty of sweet pea and today I played God with a maple seedling which had established itself in the wrong neighbourhood.  My street is lined with maples and all the cars, sidewalks and fertile soil that happens to fall under those maple branches were littered with billions (my block alone must account for millions) of maple keys.  Some windy day brought keys into the in-ground planter in my back terrace that the wall-climbing vine happens to draw life from.  It’s not a spot that has resources to expend on anything other than said vine, but the maple sapling that sprang into life here had already 8 fully-developed leaves balanced above its crooked trunk before I took notice of it.  I imagined a future for it, but certainly not there – a mere 4 inches from the brick wall.   I called into service a rather large pail, cut some drainage holes in the bottom, got a spade under the still compact root ball and introduced the maple to its new interim home.

I don’t have a history of tree-sapling transplantation, but my father, while he owned his two acres of Waterloo Township (to become South Woolwich eventually) transplanted many maples, many pines, willows, fruit trees and a black walnut tree or two.  He loves elderberries and I believe he even imported a bush or two to grow at the edge of the backyard swamp, hoping that he would enjoy better access to his beloved pie-berries.  I seem to remember that the elderberry bush took in the damp soil there, but no person was fortunate enough to enjoy the wild fruits as the sometimes pond / swamp neighbourhood was the delight of many birds and one or more of those species enjoyed the elderberries while they were still green.  By the way, happy father’s day 2015, dad!  I’ll be calling you before supper tonight and comparing my elderberry memories with yours.

This spring I’ve been transplanting like never before.  It’s been 5 or 6 years since I planted my first dollar-store Life_from_a_crackpacket of sweet pea seeds.  Since then I’ve been reaping dividends on that investment as the vines which climb the fence bordering my planters hold their seed pods through the winter and then self-seed the following year. Last year McGill put up a huge trellised barrier between the driveway running past my garden and the little-used terrace area of the student residence.  My imagination soon populated the barrier with the surplus sweet pea plants that literally sprang up out of the cracks between paving stones, but the reality that I had to overcome was that, on the McGill side, there was 12 inches of concrete at the base of the trellis and on my side there was the driveway and then 30 inches of concrete before the trellis structure began.  I called into action some discarded corrugated plastic drainage pipe which I cut open and tucked one side between the top of the concrete and the bottom of the trellis.  This hanging planter could hold plenty of soil for the sweet pea vines that I foresaw taking over this huge trellised square footage.  The trellis panels, all greenish-yellow treated wood, were not entirely an eyesore, but the sweat peas, if they could wind their way up and eventually dominate the structure, would definitely improve upon my terrace view.  I succeeded in this plan to a small extent, but the drainage-pipe planters didn’t hold up so well and soon looked shabby so I’ve decided to take a different tack this second year.  It involves a bit of guerrilla gardening as I am placing small planters sitting on the 12 inches of concrete on the McGill side of the wall.  I see that the sprinkler hose has been set up by McGill (not in use yet due to almost daily rain this spring) so my vines, still crouched at the bottom of the trellis wall will enjoy consistent watering through the heat of the summer.  Some of the candidate sweet pea vines that I am using to conquer McGill’s wall sprang from seeds that took root between the paving stones on my garden terrace.  Left alone these vines would never get to the stage where they climb the adjacent fence as when the heat of summer comes the vines would be scorched off, having very little root to draw water from.  I’ve found that when I pull these plants from the cracks they have enough of a root structure that they can be transplanted into the planters which, once proven, will make their way to the base of the wall.  It takes a special kind of will-to-live to spring up in a crack and I’m counting on that same vitality that nature has in spades to be put to use to improve my neighbourhood.

 

Winter

Viewfrom_theCross

When winter weather reports talk about ‘miserable’ weather, snow storms and adverse conditions, it is all so much given a negative slant.  The real disaster for me is never ‘more snow’ but rather when the snow gets soggy and rain falls to destroy it.  We get less of those mid-winter thaws in Montreal – a good thing in my books.  New snowfall means I’m out skiing – a run up Mount Royal – in the company of so many other joggers, skiers, snowshoe-ers, tobogannists and dog-walkers – the cream of Montreal society.  Hang with the positive people.  Let the car-driving commuters commiserate sourly about the weather – I’m among those that know what to do with snow.

Ted_WinterPaintbyNumber

Felt quite stiff in the bones after a hard-day’s work packaging sausage yesterday, but I followed through on the previous night’s good intentions of going up-mountain and got out of the house before 8am for the couple blocks walk to the park where I put on my skis and rejoin (I think this is a French usage) the ski-trail along Olmstead Way.   I can see the elevation that I am going to climb, but the grade on Olmstead Way makes it the best of X-country skiing experiences. In about an hour I’m at the cross – la meillure oeuvre de la Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, érigé en 1924.  This is the best place to take my small collation (snack).  This morning it is half a dried fig and the water that is left in my small water bottle.  Whether it is nuts, chocolate, raisins, dried blueberries or cranberries nothing ever tastes so good and yet just a bit is all I need.

From the cross – everything is down-hill and very fun-going. On est gaté ici dans une ville faite pour les sportifs d’hiver.  Jésus, soit loué.  Tes oeuvres sont magnifique.

The following is Psalm 86:10 from ‘The Message’:

Ready to put your beauty on display,
parading your greatness,
And the great things you do–
God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!

Jan4 view

The view from my window this Sunday is quite monochromatic but beautiful, nonetheless, for the ice and snow.
Of course, I vector traced it – so much quicker than learning the skills of pen and ink.
There is really nothing more relaxing than a Quebec storm and its aftermath especially when one is inside and has no pressing destination.
Hope my reader is ensconced (??) in a peaceful place and has found beauty in grayscale if not CMYK.
God is good!
Jan4_15
Snow and ice on a Sunday

Garden Stew

stew contents
stew contents – fresh from the market or rescued from the fridge

I was able to finish up work soon after 1pm today, which usually means that I’ll stop somewhere on the way home.  Very near to the sausage plant in Laval is the Marché 440.  I don’t know if it is the only market in Laval but it is an excellent place to buy fruits, vegetables, honey and much more.  Wanting to make it quick – just needed a flat of raspberries while they are in season locally – I transacted for the fruit at the closest vendor, one of the best – but since I had to pay across the aisle where they have an extensive selection of vegetables, I quickly added a cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, carrots, string beans, tomatoes and new potatoes to my bill.  And then I stopped at my favourite supermarket on Avenue du Parc  where I have learned to speedshop. 50 cents of metred parking only buys me 10 minutes. Let’s just say that I didn’t have to use any of my time today in the produce section.

The original idea was to make raspberry jam when I got home, but since neither Carol nor I had had any lunch and I was bringing home some freshly smoked sausage from work, I knew I had all the ingredients on hand for a hearty lunch on a rainy day.  Put the berries on ice and pulled out some cooking pots (des casseroles, comme on dit ici).  I think I have a garden stew recipe posted on my original personal website. Yes, still there at:

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