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Posts Tagged ‘home’

Chilling

Today is Fridge Day. As previously mentioned, Mr Man and I were unlucky enough to need a new fridge, but ! fortunate in that we were able to find a replacement that would arrive before Fall.* The replacement is being delivered sometime in the next couple of hours, so we’re getting ready.

Step 1: empty the old fridge

Step 2: marvel at the ancient relics to be found therein!

The old fridge has a very deep deli drawer and things could, and did, obviously, get lost in there. Like these Riviera yogurts from 2016 that somehow (incredibly!) still look 100% edible five years later. How?! (Magic, that’s how.) Or the mint vodka I made lo those many years ago (that’s code for I have no idea how old it is).

It’s true that best before dates are food quality guidelines, rather than “you will absolutely, positively die if you eat this even one minute after this date” warnings, but even so, I’ll skip the decade-old fish.

Everything that can be composted/recycled was. The dining room is full of coolers and insulated bags. Drawers were emptied, shelves cleared, and sacrifices to the Appliance Gods were made in the usual fashion.

Now we wait.

* * *

What I wish I were drinking.
Photo by Whitney Wright on Unsplash

* * *

* I’m not kidding about this timeline, as you will know if you have had to purchase a new appliance lately. Supply chain issues from computer chips to shipping bottlenecks are rampant these days, but it will all get sorted out… eventually.

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The sun is out and while it’s not exactly warm, the world is bright and beautiful. I’m working on a number of project ideas and am about to help Mr Man dissect the fridge. 

(brief break for said dissection)

Yep, we need a new fridge. Or rather, the fridge needs a new compressor and it doesn’t make sense to replace that one thing. I shall now spend a not-insignificant amount of time imagining a world in which incentives for engineers are structured in ways that make designing modular, easy-to-repair systems the goal. 

So I’m a little sad today, because having to get rid of a mostly fine appliance is a damn shame.

* * *

That said, I am also reading. I just finished Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. It’s a good book but not, like so many others, an easy one to ingest. I stuck with it and am glad I did. The language is challenging, any name or title under four syllables is rare, and the author does an astonishing job (I realized about 10% of the way in) of putting the reader in the place of the awkward, out-of-his-depth, confused main character. It adds an extra, internal dimension to the act of reading an external book. 

* * *

And here’s to my parents, who raised me with the belief that no day with a book is ever truly wasted.

* * *

Photo by Rob Mulally on Unsplash

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Well, This is Fun

Instead of writing an adventure-filled epic saga for your lunchtime perusal (or whatever it is I originally planned to post today), Mr Man and I are shopping for a new refrigerator. Because that’s fun.

The bad news? Compressors break. The good news? Our options are no longer limited to preserving our milk with frogs!

Refrigerators that Ribbit?

(Srsly tho, do not try this at home!)

* * * 

green frog in a purple flower
We are not amused! Ok, maybe a little bit amused.
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

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Imagination Itself

In memory of the pretty tree in full bloom around the corner, which our neighbor just cut down.

Also, it’s Tuesday.

(This is the part where I like to bring it back to a cheerful ending. Right. Hmm.)

Ah yes! I’m making excellent progress on the bird front, lots of goldfinches, robins, cardinals, chickadees, juncos and sparrows. Nature finds a way, even if it sometimes needs a little help:)

* * *

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

― William Blake
Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

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I may have mentioned my unspoken, one-sided, possibly small-minded battle with the neighbors for “Favorite Neighborhood Bird Oasis.” For years, our backyard was the place to be, featuring sustainably under-managed undergrowth, a giant tube feeder full of black oil sunflower seeds, a bird bath with water three times a day in summer, and a heated bath in winter. What more could a bird want?

What the neighbors now have, apparently. Feeders that are easier for squirrels and larger birds to break into, a bird bath with a powered fountain, and oh yes, even more feeders (I think they have about a dozen).

So I’m out numbered and outgunned, but not giving up. I’m plotting next steps, including a new feeder with nyjer seed for the finches and more bird-friendly spring plantings.

The bad news is that I’ll probably still lose because I also don’t want to be out there twice a day refilling feeders decimated by all of squirreldom.

The good news? This all spells a net gain for the local wildlife, no matter what.

So, win win. That’s the kind of fight I like. 

* * *

Photo by Miikka Luotio on Unsplash

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This morning, we discovered an army of teeny tiny ants making a foray under the mudroom door, and thus commenced a battle for the ages!

/ahem

They are winning.*

I took a break from the fun that is that to learn another way to make a painted sketch in Affinity Photo. It’s a good technique but my mouse-based brushwork could use a bit of practice:)

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Original Photo by Zane Lee on Unsplash

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* No worries, I am consoling myself with brownies.

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I learned some sad news last night. Nothing personal, exactly, but it affected me all the same.

Jean-Claude Chartrand, the chef at our favorite restaurant, has died. 

I feel for his family and for those he led. His loss will reverberate throughout the community. And yes, I also feel some personal sorrow. His restaurant is lovely, and going there always felt a bit like coming home. 

* * *

I met Chef Chartrand once or twice in person, but mostly I knew him through his food, and through the warmth and care that showed in his restaurant.

L’Orée du Bois is located in a converted century-old farmhouse, and the dining areas are cozy rooms with exposed wood and windows that overlook the garden, the smoke house, the patio, and the forest.

They added a timbered patio we haven’t been able to try yet, and lined the path through the forest beyond the herb garden with benches, lights, and a fire pit. 

It might be odd to say because I’m an American English speaker with roots far from here, but everything about this French Canadian restaurant suits me. I’ll be honest, it was one of the things that convinced me that I could make this new country a home. That I would fit here.

Because to me, that Québécois restaurant at the wooded edge of Gatineau Park, anchoring this southerly edge of our neighboring province, is perfect.

* * *

L’Orée du Bois is the place we go when we want to celebrate, or take visitors out for a dinner that is both special and comfortable.

The food is inventive, delicious, often surprising and frequently local. It is the type of establishment where wine pairings are spot on, the staff are thoughtful and friendly, maple pops up on the menu with reassuring regularity, and typical haute cuisine rules about avoiding ingredient or menu substitutions are meant to be broken.

My kind of place.

Many of the ingredients are sourced from local producers. Admire a hand thrown butter dish? Enjoy the mushroom medley or the red deer medallion or the fiddleheads? Chances are good that it was made or farmed or harvested nearby. I didn’t know Chef Chartrand, but it was clear he cared about his community.

* * *

When my mother came to visit, we took her there. Chef Chartrand came out to the dining room to speak with us, making sure that everything was good and that we were happy, then stayed to chat a bit under a framed chef’s hat signed by Justin Trudeau and his family. My mother is hard of hearing, and restaurants can be awkward places to talk. The chef was kind and thoughtful and helped make her evening special.

The last time we took my father (he has been several times) we were given a tour of the kitchen, the wine cellar, and sent home with a selection of handmade chocolates.

L’Orée is where Mr. Man took me the first time we visited Ottawa, even before we started talking seriously about moving here. It’s where we went after we bought our house. When I became a Canadian citizen. And the day we married, we took pictures in the herb garden out front while waiting for our table.

Thinking we should expand our horizons, we tried other restaurants, but always came back. The alternatives were always… something. Too crowded, too cold, too bright, too self-important, too self-consciously avant-garde. Too much something, and not enough L’Orée du Bois.

We always went back.

* * *

As the pandemic took hold and lockdowns began to stretch from weeks into months, we worried that the restaurant might not make it. When they opened for takeout, we went as often as we could. Celebrating the holidays without family this year, we ordered bag after bag of take-out to get us through the season. 

Smiling staff handed out hot mulled wine as we waited for our pickup. It’s that kind of place. 

* * *

Information on Chef Chartrand is limited but the announcement mentioned that a staff member tested positive for Covid-19. Just days later, Chartrand was gone. 

L’Orée du Bois chef Jean-Claude Chartrand dies days after his restaurant closes due to a COVID-19 case among staff

Jean-Claude Chartrand, the celebrated chef and co-owner of L’Orée du Bois, has died, just days after a worker at his much-loved West Quebec restaurant tested positive for COVID-19.

For more details on Chartrand, his life, and his community, see this article in Le Soeil (Google translate).

I am sorry for his family, and the region is poorer for his loss.

* * *

We have vaccines. We have hope. But please, for yourselves, for those you love, and for the health of our collective future, stay careful. Stay safe.

We may be close, but danger still lurks. We have not yet reached the edge of the woods.

* * *

Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com

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tl;dr (even though it’s short short short!): Covid-19 a.k.a. The Coronavirus. Ugh. But we’ll get through this.

 

In service to the greater good, I am amplifying this genius little tool: Wash Your Lyrics.

Type in a song title and artist, come away with a custom hand-washing poster to make it easier to get through the whole… freaking… twenty!… seconds… worth of hand-washing the CDC and every other knowledgeable organization / official / healthcare professional / your mom says we all need right now. More details here, but it’s pretty straightforward.

Obviously, it’s been done before, but to get you started here’s a set of hand-washing instructions set to the world’s most obvious song choice (waiting to see stats on song selections, but I’m pretty sure I’m right):

 

Let me also take a moment to thank all the public servants, health care professionals and first responders working on the front lines. Stay safe, my friends!

 

 

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We, Not Me

Canada has an election next week. Politics aside, the Conservative party slogan has been bugging me and now I know why.

Conservative party slogan
“It’s time for you to get ahead.”

Not “us.”

When I first came to Canada from the U.S. one of the things that stood out for me was a subtle but telling difference in language. Driving north, I saw a billboard that read “Let’s remember…” Let us, together, for the good of all. Once I noticed it, I saw that same framing in many other places as well.

I don’t see that as much in the States. I still love my first country but I’m not blind to its faults, either. There’s a lot more “Do this” followed by ”here’s how you’ll benefit,” sometimes accompanied by “or else.” Not “let’s come together to build a better world” but “look out for yourself.” The unstated follow-up is that no one else will. Not so here. No country is perfect, of course, but there’s a reason folks here can see a doctor or fill a prescription and not break the budget.

This tendency to work for the communal good is one of the many things I love about Canada, and one of the things that, regardless of political party, I hope we all remember.

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It’s summer and I’m enjoying a bit of vacation time (yay!) and what do I spot on my new Asclepias tuberosa? A monarch butterfly caterpillar!

 

I’ve seen a monarch or two in the neighborhood this year but not many. (Not like during my childhood down south, when my mother used to pull the car over just about anywhere to find caterpillar-rich milkweed by the side of the road.) There’s a reason why these butterflies are listed as at endangered in Ontario:(

That said, awareness of the issues around butterflies and their disappearing habitat is rising, and it’s not all bad news. I’m happy to see milkweed left to grow by the roadside, to find native milkweed varietals at the garden center, and to watch butterflies flitting in the park. If we had more sun and space I’d plant a butterfly meadow, but for now, we went with butterfly weed. Glad we did:)

As an added bonus, I also saw fireflies in the yard a couple of weeks ago for the first time north of the border:) Here’s wishing you a happy and constructive summer!

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