Monday, July 31, 2017

jam and pesto and lying under the trees

Summer is not a bloggy time. Good weather pulls me away from the computer. I do still work but I don't have that extra impetus to spend extra-curricular time here.

So news is short.

This is the first summer that, instead saying I would make black currant jam, I actually did. I bought a small basket of fruit--it's not easy to find black currants in Quebec--and was surprised that I got as many jars as I did from it. Now I'm thinking of making cherry jam? Plum jam? A friend has been talking to me about apricot jam and if I could find apricots grown locally, I'd love to try that.

I had good luck with growing basil this year and hauled home a bucket's worth of plants to make pesto. I spent a happy afternoon plucking and washing leaves, then buzzing them in the food processor with olive oil and walnuts.

After the busyness in the kitchen, I go for a long walk or cycle. I like to lie under the trees early evening when the sun's low in the sky and hits the leaves from the side. They're a brighter green. Get under a tree and you'll see.

appropriation scenario

A magazine hosts a writing contest. The magazine editors and the judge of the contest are aware of the debate around appropriation. How could they not be? In good faith the judge awards first, second, and third prizes. Even an honourable mention.

Ah, did I mention? Judging was blind.

When the names are revealed, it turns out that two of the chosen stories are written from the point of view of characters who have no cultural, social, or gender affiliation with the authors. And yet the judge was convinced that the narratives were emotionally authentic.

I'm thinking the authors are feeling smug, the judge maybe annoyed (maybe not); the magazine stuck; the readers...?

Is this a win for the imagination or...?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

garden July 2017

We had a long cool wet spring in Montreal and my garden had a late start. My friend in Copenhagen tells me he has squash coming out his ears. My squash are the size of my head. I mean the leaves. No gourds yet.

Lettuce and snow peas had a rough start because they were razed by groundhogs. Lettuce has now recovered. I collected a handful of snow peas today. Why are they called snow peas? In French they're called pois mange-tout. Eat-everything peas.

Tomatoes and basil are doing well, though I'll be making pesto before I eat tomato salad.

Beans and Lebanese cukes coming along.

I sowed carrots three times, three weeks apart, and only a dozen came up. Ditto beets. Another gardener said that ants were making off with the seeds. Is that possible? I don't know but I felt desperate. I read online that lavender keeps ants away, so I planted lavender. The lavender is doing well, but ants are as busy as ever around it.

I read that ants don't like cinnamon and sprinkled my whole garden with cinnamon. For a few days, before it rained, I had a garden as red as a PEI beach. And aromatic. I don't know what my Bangladeshi neighbour thought.

I never saw an exodus of ants, the carrots and beets I seeded again didn't show, and the ants are back having a party around the lavender.

My prize plant so far has been rhubarb. I've made rhubarb compote (or jam as some call it), have rhubarb in the freezer, and have given some to friends.

I don't recall what species of hot pepper I got, so I don't know what colour these will finally be. They've been green, then purple, now orange. 

The reason why I'm able to have a garden in the city is that I have a plot in a community garden--Jardin Communautaire la Pointe-Verte--and it's one of the pleasures of gardening to be planting or weeding or watering with another sunhatt-ed or sari-d gardener a couple of plots over doing the same. We're all making stuff grow.

Monday, July 3, 2017

tin ceilings / Grimms / upholstery

A while ago I was walking in Montreal, looking for a tin ceiling. It's an architectural detail I recall seeing in cafes or bars when I first moved to Montreal in the 80s. I'm sure there are still some, but I couldn't find one. The taverns/bars/bistros I recall having tin ceilings have either closed or moved to larger venues that have been renovated. There are companies who will install new tin ceiling tiles for an elegant, antique look, but that's not the same. The original imprinted tin tile ceilings were a design feature conceived in the mid-1800s as an affordable alternative to carved plaster ceilings. I don't recall seeing them where I grew up in Ontario, and so I noticed them in Montreal.

In the 1990s we lived in an apartment that had tin wainscoting in the living room. The metal was imprinted with fleurs-de-lys and painted white like the plaster walls. There was handsome oak trim. The apartment had "charm" but there were problems with the plumbing, the noise between the apartments, the thin, rattling windows in the winter.

The tin ceiling in the photo belongs to Cafe Shaika on Sherbrooke where R and I went for a walk the other day. What was best? The ceiling, the generous layout of the tables, the varnished tabletops covered in pages and drawings from fairy tales? Of course, I sat at a Grimms' table with the story of the Wolf and the Seven Little Goats.

The decaff latte was good too.

Also on our walk along Sherbrooke we saw this old shop, now Pizzeria Melrose. I appreciate that they kept the original upholsterer's sign--that they've made this nod to the history of the building.

R and I had a chair reupholstered here. The man drove across the city to where we were living, picked up the chair--no charge--and delivered it once it was made new again.
Here's a pic of a younger version of myself in the new chair, with other details from my life in the 1990s. The black rotary phone, plaster Ionic column (a popular feature in Greek neighbourhoods in Montreal), the table loom in the background. I used to weave scarves on that loom. Later I got a larger floor loom.

Here's the painting R did.

I don't know what the relationship between the words and the painting is.

But I'm wondering now how old T.S. Eliot was when he wrote Prufrock. I empathized with the indecisive anguish of the poem when I was younger, but now that I'm Prufrock's age--my own hair thinning--I don't have the time nor the patience for that kind of anguish. At this age, I get on with things.

(Just looked up Eliot's age. He was 22.)