Thursday, October 27, 2016

dismantling a chimney / Gaspé Sept 2016

You get a few extras when you acquire an old house by the sea. Ours had a condemned brick chimney. R shrouded it with plastic and painted tar around the base to keep the rain from getting in. Every now and then when I was reading I could hear a brick tumbling down inside.

We'd had a stovepipe chimney installed for the wood stove. How much do I love sitting by the wood stove? Much, much, much.  +++++++ 

Last June when we visited the house, there was some water damage to the ceiling so we knew the plastic and pitch solution wasn't working anymore. Time to deal with the crumbling brick that was turning into a hole in the roof. 

R isn't one to complain. Only after he finished did he say that it wasn't fun to sit on the peak of a roof for a day and a half. 

Here's the after photo--with a fire in the wood stove keeping the house warm as we go for a walk on the beach. The hills behind the house are the tail-end of the Appalachians that cross the border from Maine into Québec.  

And this is the Gaspé, right? The beach is rugged. Rocks, lichen, cool wind off the water, kelp, seagulls, sky. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

walking through st-henri

A rainy walk through St-Henri, one of the Montreal neigbhourhoods you probably won't find in a Michelin guide.

And a new Five Roses bag!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

random October thoughts

Yesterday evening we had one of those whipping rainstorms that tore the autumn leaves from the trees, so this morning I looked at the leaves still left on the branches a bit longer.

Then I decided to wash the sheets and hang them out to dry, so I could take this picture to help me remember how yellow the trees are in October when I'm sleeping on these yellow sheets in the winter.

And today -- a first --  I measured my tea with a tea caddy spoon. It was a gift and it's the perfect size for exactly how much tea I want.

I used to measure tea with a teaspoon. One teaspoon plus a tip of teaspoon more. This morning was a before and after moment. Before was teaspoon. After is tea caddy spoon. You think I'm kidding? In a world with so much misery and stupidity, who cares about a spoon? No one. You're right.

But I take my sanity where I can get it. The colour of the sheets and the leaves. The shape of an etched pewter bowl and a graceful handle.

I have yet to write about a trip to the sea and a chimney that was dismantled in September.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Jonah in the whale / Matane 1963 / Gaspé 2016

I once had a boyfriend who would every now and then get maudlin about this amazing, humongous whale he used to visit on camping trips with his family. It was a whale you could walk into! It was like being Jonah in the whale! For a long time I assumed it was part of a museum exhibit.

At the time that I knew him he was a grad student and balding. I only mention his thinning hair because I'll never forget coming home one day and finding him napping on the sofa with a cabbage leaf on his head--which he'd heard stopped hair loss.

After I'd heard his story about the whale a few times, I tried to coax him to bring the memory a little closer toward adult territory. We could have talked about the Jonah myth. He could have sung a bit of Porgy and Bess. “Now, Jonah, he lived in a whale...” 

Or we could have discussed what Joni Mitchell meant by Jonah in a ticking whale.

He could have made me a mixed tape of Jonah songs. People did that in those days -- collected songs on a tape cassette. They did it for themselves. They did it as a gift. It took coordination and patience, putting a vinyl album on the record player, dropping the needle at the beginning of a song, lifting the needle off before the next song began, sliding the LP into the sleeve -- holding it by the edge and centre so you didn't smudge the grooves with fingerprints -- getting another LP ready.

On the romance scale, getting a mixed tape ranked high. A person had to think about you and choose which of their favourite songs they wanted you to hear.

Though people didn’t only give each other mixed tapes for romantic reasons. Someone might believe they superior taste in music and their friends could stand to benefit, so they would give them mixed tapes they'd made to educate/indoctrinate them. I had one such friend who's no longer a friend.

Some years ago R and I were taking the #132 around the Gaspé peninsula (northeastern Québec), and near Matane I saw the whale of my old boyfriend’s childhood.   

It's a tourist shop. He might even have seen it when it first opened in 1963. He would have been... nine yrs old? I don't know if he ever saw it as an adult, because -- at least when I knew him --  he never updated his impression of how amazingly huge it was.  

A couple of weeks ago R and I were driving by and we stopped there, but the shop was closed. I asked R to get inside the whale for a picture.

I wonder if the old boyfriend ever took his kids there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

book launch for Five Roses!

If you didn't already see these pictures, here's a replay of the lead-up to the joint book launch of Five Roses and What Milly Did, a children's book by Elise Moser about Milly Zantow who pioneered the recycling of plastics in North America. Yes, an adult novel and a kids' book--why not? Elise and I are friends and we decided to have a launch together.

My novel has some sad and desperate events in it--sorry, that's life--but in the novel there's also a pastry chef who makes delicious desserts. With that in mind, we decided to have cream puffs at our book launch. (That's not my kitchen but the dining room because I needed an 7' table as a work space.)

I decided to fill the puffs with vanilla custard which has to be whisked constantly so that the eggs don't clot in the milk as they cook.
How many eggs? Here are the egg shells drying before I crush them to add to my garden for extra calcium.

I injected the cream puffs with the cooled vanilla custard--but had made so many puffs that I ran out of custard. I ran out to buy cream to whip.

I could have iced them with chocolate but that would have made them even messier to eat and I was intending to bring them to a public place. I drizzled them with caramelized sugar instead because it hardens--and adds crunch to the delicate pastry and rich cream filling.

I wish I had a picture of them at the book launch, but the photographer had put away the camera to eat a few.
Here are some of the pictures he did take. Elise is on the left; I'm on the right. We're talking about our books. The venue was Bar Palco. Charles-Etienne who moved furniture and set up mikes for us was a charm. We had an attentive, friendly, convivial audience. It was fun!

So many smiles!