Lives enabled pure

It is a Saturday morning and I am so well situated on a wooden lounger next to a most elegant lake and it is quiet except for the hum of traffic on Rue de la Parc Lafontaine and the footsteps of the occasional jogger.

CarreSaintLouisVectorTomorrow at this time I’ll be singing “I am souled out”, for that is the song that Jireh uses as Julien balances the individual mike levels and then the section levels. Tomorrow is work, at the “Lanaudière” festival, and the pleasure of performing, but today, in a swap for Sunday, is reflection and satisfaction in God’s blessings.

I read scripture daily and this morning, instead of the usual breakfast table or living room setting, I took the Bible down Prince Arthur to Carré Saint-Louis, that most Français of Montreal parks and sat next to the two-tiered fountain and opened the Psalms. I have a fountain psalm – one of my very favourites, Psalm 87, but this morning I stuck with where I am in the structure of my read-in-a-year program: Psalm 140; and then Solomon dedicating the temple (and preaching a really good sermon) in 2 Chronicles 6 and 7; and Jesus teaching a lawyer the meaning of the word “neighbour” in Luke 10; and Paul, about controlling my body in 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 (NIV). “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.” All of that – all 4 readings and the Psalm that sprang to my heart in view of the fountain that says “we belong” – spoke to me this morning. God gives us his Holy Spirit. Being holy is my calling, and it looks entirely like Jesus. “Pure” is my word of reflection for this year et, le voilà, there it is, just like that, God’s Holy Spirit, teaching me what pure looks like in all 4 readings. His Holy Spirit, convicting me and showing me the better way.

And there’s even more in store – God speaks through nature and I have Annie Dillard along as an interpreter of that. I have 3 fruits, bought on the way, with me. A fig from the near East, framboises provenant du St-Joseph-du-Lac, and half of a dragon fruit from the Far East. May God’s fruit which comes from lives-enabled-pure be in evidence here in Québec and throughout the whole earth. Selah.

Nature will succeed

…with or without my help.


    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.



walkingOne of the best features of the winter that is now drawing to a close is that there has been a higher amount of sunlight than usual.  Today, in the last hour of sunlight, I decided I needed a walk in said sun so that I could not be accused of despising it.

Moi, j’habite dans l’arrondissement Plateau Mont-Royal.  Puis, quand je sors de la maison pour prends du soleil et un peu d’exercise d’ailleurs j’ai tout un choix des routes.  Aujourd’hui j’ai eu comme but le Parc Lafontaine, donc j’ai suivi rue Prince-Arthur jusqu’a Carré St-Denis et après avoir mangé des steamés et des rondelles d’oignon chez Lafleur j’ai monté St-Denis un peu pour atteindre le parc par le moyen de Roy.

aVapeurBy this, I don’t mean that I took the King’s highway – no, there is a pleasant neighbourhood street in the lower Plateau known as Roy (say ooWah, like the famous Canadiens goaltender, Patrick Roy).  If it was further advanced in the spring, I might have gone earlier to Parc Lafontaine with one of the books that I am reading and soaked in the sunshine and the book on a park bench.  That day will come soon  enough.

En cours de route, j’ai résolu de suivre ce route régulièrement, ça veut dire que je dois continuer  d’avoir cette marche intégré dans mon quotidienne jusqu’au date quand je peux commencer de  monter le montagne (Mont Royal) sur vélo.  À ce moment je peux interposé les jours de vélo  avec les jours de marche dans le cartier.

The walk down Prince Arthur, past St-Louis Square (home of my favourite Montreal fountain)  and on to Parc Lafontaine with return by Duluth is nothing if not quirky and interesting.  The  laundry (fond memories of when I needed one of these) on Duluth whose window I’ve pictured below makes clever usage of the Québec term which might be translated “undies” –  des bobettes.  They will pick up (cueillir) and deliver (livrer) your “bobettes” (undies) via the Bobette express.  Knowing the neighbourhood, this is more likely to be done by bicycle than by car. And the books in the window – de riguer – that is if the real-time social networking that came before wifi existed is having a slow day.  For “buanderies” like this, their numbers aren’t going to increase, but it’s a nice reminder of a world that once was, or once might have been and still finds a way of existing in the Plateau.


Pain ressusciter

Ce matin pour ma fête, j’ai voulu commencer avec un petitPain_ressuscite_vector déjeuner fabriqué des aliments que j’ai déjà en main. Donc, s’il me reste un pain italien bien sec, des oeufs et du lait avec la date d’expiration demain, c’est bien evident l’affaire que je peux facilement confectionner. Le pain perdu!

J’ai cherché mon blogue avec le tag ‘breakfast’ parce que j’ai déjà une simple recette pour pain perdu (French toast) écrite dans la série “17 Favourite breakfasts” (mes dix-sept petits déjeuners préférés).  Après avoir fouetté un oeuf dans un quart de tasse de lait, j’ai gratté (rapé?) dedans un petit peu de noix de muscade et j’ai saupoudré légèrement mon affaire de la cannelle.

Il me reste du gras d’un rôti de porc cuisiné hier.  J’ai eu peur que le pain va goûter de l’ail mais, finalement ce n’était pas le cas.  Le pain bien sec a ‘gobber’ le mélange oeuf-lait comme un éponge. Le pain perdu n’était pas cause perdu (lost cause?) mais un réussite total!

Donc, je suggère humblement que les Larousse et les Roberts du monde francophone ajoutent au lexique ‘pain ressusciter’.

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!
Snow and ice on a Sunday

Harold Teaches Steak

These comments about choosing a good steak are a combination of my own experience buying steaks at my local supermarket ever since I’ve been married and the wisdom of my father, Harold, who cut a steak or two in his day.

The first thing my father taught me (I just listened when he spoke) was that the best steak is a Porterhouse.  Now, if you go into your local supermarket or restaurant you are not going to see this name on the label or on the menu as this steak is simply called a T-bone.  That’s all right, let other people buy the T-bones – I’m going to choose the T-bone that is a Porterhouse cut every time.  In the image you’ll see two steaks exactly as I found them cello-packed on their styrofoam tray.  I drew in black line approximately where the one steak ended and the other began.  The steak at the top of the image has it’s rather large bone at the top, while the steak at the bottom of my image has its bone toward the bottom

What is a Porterhouse steak? It is a steak from the hindquarter of the beef, from the loin that has the T-shaped bone but the vertical part of the T is much shorter than the true T-bones and the horizontal part of the T is quite large.  But the best way of identifying is not so much the bone, but the tenderloin.  The vertical part of the T separates the tenderloin portion from the – well, the rest of the steak.  If the T-bone had no tenderloin at all and no bone we’d call it a strip loin – that is the tenderloin has been stripped off – to be sold plus cher as filet mignon.  Going back to identifying the Porterhouse steak among the T-bones.  The Porterhouse has a much higher percentage of tenderloin than the T-bone does.  In my image the steak at the top has its tenderloin on the right while the steak on the bottom has its tenderloin on the left.  I’d estimate that the steak at the top has about 40% tenderloin while the steak at the bottom of the image has about 35% tenderloin (which is a higher percentage than your average T-bone steak).  A sure way of determining which side is the tenderloin side and which is not is that the side that is NOT tenderloin will have some fat on the outside while the tenderloin side will never have fat on the outside.  That fat on the outside makes the non-tenderloin side (a strip loin steak) pretty enjoyable too – I know my dad would never despise some nicely seasoned fat on the outside of a steak or roast and I, well, I am my father’s son in that respect.

The tenderloin part of the steak is the most tender.  You can take your fork and easily pull it apart without needing to cut it with a knife.  When you are placing your Porterhouse on your barbecue – put the tenderloin side away from the heat as it doesn’t need to be cooked as much as the not-tenderloin part of the start.

When choosing your steak try to optimize the amount of tenderloin and then look for fat marbling in the steak – that is where there is a pocket of fat surrounded by lean meat or sometimes a line or streak of fat between the lean.  Fat helps tenderize meat (which is why that round steak needs some marinating as that cut of beef will never have fat marbled through it) and, when barbecuing the fat drops on the hot coal or metal and the smoke produced gives it that barbecued flavour.

You know, recently I’ve become quite dissatisfied with the lack of flavour in the steaks that I am buying at the supermarket.  I don’t believe that they age the beef at all.  A week hanging in a cooler before being cut would help it a lot.  Maybe I need to go on a quest to find a butcher who will sell me steak that tastes like something more than my Montreal steak spice.

I will start my find- an-alternative-to-the-supermarket for steak tonight as that is what is on our menu for this Friday night.

I have MUCH more to pass on about steak that I learned by virtue of being a butcher’s son.  Enough for more blogs in the future, I’m sure.



Vector traces

StainGlassManTedIpody of my blog images are vector traces of photos accomplished in Coreldraw and then exported as jpg, gif or png to illustrate my blog.  This is something that I have learned to do over many years use of Coreldraw. It’s quite simple to do and I find the results to be more pleasing than the original photo.

There are technical advantages to creating a vector image from your original bitmap image:

  • Much smaller size – the original of the stained glass image on the right was 1.36 meg for a 884 X 2386 pixel image.  This trace represents that same image in png format using only 220k – about 1/6 the size.  Many of the traces that I use on this blog are only 10 or 20k in size.
  • When printing with the image stored in a vector format (.cdr, .ai, svg) the image is infinitely resizable with no loss of quality.

After creating my vector image in Coreldraw I use the “Export for Web” command to turn it back into a bitmap.  I saw that the size of the image of me, to the right, was much larger than necessary so I reduced it to 242 pixels wide.  The result is perfect for my blog and the jpg is a mere 5k in size.

If your data plan is skimpy like mine, you can still look at this blog as the photos, when vector-processed won’t break anyone’s data plan.

This link helps you with doing traces in Adobe Illustrator:

French toast

French toast
French toast

Favourite breakfast #14 is French toast.

You might say it is my up-and-coming, new favourite breakfast, not because I’ve never had it before, but because quite possibly I’ve never made it myself before.

The impetus for the eggy-bread this morning was a fridge that was ripe with some traditional french-toast accompanying fruit that was already cut up and prepared (peaches) or just generally on standby (huge blackberries) or half-gone-bad (strawberries). Then there were 2 & 2/3 slices of bread from a Greek bakery that I had taken to work one day (but didn’t eat lunch that day) and then taken it to Ontario, but again, ignored it. It was good bread – it just needed a new get-up. French toast would be that vehicule.

I checked one cookbook for a recipe and then I just Googled it and chose the simplest recipe – though I only read one. Besides the bread (white is best, in my experience) all you need for the most basic French toast is 1 egg and 1/4 cup of milk per each person. (example 2 people – 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk – lest there be confusion due to the conjunctivity). Then the author of the recipe I was using suggested nutmeg and cinnamon could be added. I grated a very small part of a nutmeg and sprinkled a very modest amount of cinnamon into my solution. You need some grease in the frying pan. The fridge wasn’t swimming in butter so I chose sunflower oil.

I won’t give the rest of the instructions – I think you can figure it out.

This isn’t a breakfast that needs sausage or bacon, but I had some previously-barbecued old-fashioned maple-smoked sausage taking up fridge space. I cut it in thirds longitudinally and laid it in the still hot frying pan to warm. I didn’t want anything too smoky with my peaches, strawberries and blackberries. the maple-smoked that Dettweiler’s make is milder and fit the bill perfectly.

If I had posted a picture of the finished plate of french toast, fruit and sausage (with several pours of maple syrup on top) it wouldn’t have pleased anyone but a hungry truckdriver. Let me just say that I put 2100 km on my Sierra pickup in the last 4 days and this truckdriver was just too hungry to take a picture.

Sun, wind, sail


I’ve had this sailing photo for years. It’s quite low quality, but sometimes, in doing a vector trace (Coreldraw) a mediocre photo can become a piece of art – or at least paint by number art. Love the blue. That’s sailing. The position that I’m in – fully extended – is called “hiking out”. The Laser is a board boat with a relatively large sail area. It doesn’t take that much wind before you are having to put your legs under the hiking strap, your toes on the toe rail – hiking out to keep the boat sail more or less perpendicular to the water. The spray of water hits you and it feels SO GOOD!

Going to post just this much and then add a second post in the coming days about my full history with the Laser / Performance Sailcraft and Mr. Ian Bruce, who designed the Laser.  Some times bad things – like losing my rudder / tiller assembly to the depths of Dickie Lake lead to rare opportunities – like meeting someone who designed the top one-design sailboat in the world.  More on that coming in another post.