Three Round Meals

Now you may find this ironic, but the fact is that when Gillian and I are together at home, we each grab our own breakfasts — usually cereal or toast — but when she’s away I’ll cook a special treat.

There’s a simple explanation for this: what I like to eat is disgusting.

Bread dough fried in porkbelly fat and swimming in blackstrap molasses — heavenly!

A fried dough blob is called a “touton” — rhymes with “scoutin’” — in Newfoundland. I had some sourdough starter in the fridge, so I threw some fancy-schmance sprouted whole wheat flour at it till it made a soft dough, for my first attempt at preparing this new-to-me dish. The porkbelly bits, rendered in the pan till they’re nice and chewy, are called scruncheons. Basically they’re bacon without the additives. Wash the meal down with a cup of coffee and half a can of Graves baked beans with molasses.

Then there was a “yikes” meal. Yikes, all this leftover basmati, what to do with it? Make rice pudding is what. Gillian hates rice pudding, so here was my chance. Two eggs, almond milk, raisins, chopped chestnuts; didn’t need sugar because I slopped redcurrant-strawberry jelly-jam over it. Slurp. The next day’s leftovers got redcurrant jelly. Just as slurp.

This last meal was inspired by the photos my sweetie was sending me of her meals in Japan. A nice minimalist look, don’t you agree, and something of a rising sun, those cheddar rays of the rice cakes rising above the dark clouds of pitted prunes.

But this meal was supper, not breakfast. Although I may have heated a smoked capelin or two for dessert.

Just doing my bit to help Gillian appreciate the strange foods of Japan all the better.

A Winter’s Night

20:15, silence. Neither fridge nor heater nor humidifier running, no sound of traffic.

Savvy slumbers, head on her blankie, beside me.

Cai is curled up in his little bed under the piano. All is still.

But our loved ones are our timepieces, and those with shortest lives faithfully unquiet us from stasis back into the quotidien. Here is Cuca to tell me it’s bedtime: the dogs must patrol, the birdfeeder must come inside, the human must give treats.

Tomorrow, Gillian’s throw will again await her shivering return; her mother’s piano will again await Gillian’s agile fingers.

Tomorrow, the dogs will again wait out another storm.

Tomorrow, upstairs, Cuca will again borrow the dogs’ travel beds. He found these today, within five minutes of my having pulled them from my crowded clothes closet.

Unreliable Witness

“Tell me, Ms Bruce, where were you between the hours of 6am and 3pm on the day of February 11, 2019?”

“Certainly. I was upstairs, downstairs, in the basement, in the backyard, and down the street.”

“Are you trying to be funny, Ms Bruce?”

“No, sir. I’m just answering your question.”

For most people, “I stayed home” is a gross inaggeration of their activities. We do things we don’t even think of as “things.” In jotting down everything I did today up until 3pm, I forgot “made and ate lunch,” “made myself a coffee,” “lay down for a short nap,” and “read two pages of To the Lighthouse,” but still had 27 items on my list.

But wait, there’s more! Lots of activities contain numerous sub-activities. “Did two loads of laundry,” big whoop. But laundry entails sorting dirty clothes, choosing optimal machine settings, listening for the machine to finish, removing the lint, folding the clean clothes, and putting them away. It may entail climbing stairs. It may entail using clothespins on an outdoor laundry line or an indoor drying rack. “Making coffee” includes grinding it, putting the used grounds in the compost bucket, and washing the pot. “Napping” includes reading To the Lighthouse as an alt-med sleeping agent.

Then there are while-I’m-at-it tasks. While I’m watering the houseplants, lemme just remove these dead ivy leaves. While I’m making a smoothie for my lupper, lemme just give the dogs a spoonful each of the yogurt. While I’m getting my clean mug out of the dishwasher, lemme just put away the rest of the dishes.

And no day is complete without a yikes chore or two. Yikes, that leftover redcurrant juice has been waiting in the fridge for a week! Lemme just make some jam. Yikes, Cuca’s litterbox needs topping up! Lemme just go do that. Yikes, this salted fatback in the deep-freeze is a year old! Out you go.

So please, Mr Mason, no matter how interesting the crime, please don’t call me as a witness.

The scene of the grime.
Photo taken by me on my iNonPhone.

Thick And Thin

Last month I bought a new toy called Spirograph Cyclex. It’s just one frame holding five discs, each disc perforated with odd-shaped holes, and the cog teeth all hidden within the frame. To make a design, you trace inside one of the holes 36 times till the disc returns to its starting point.

The cogs occasionally slip a little, but it’s not like the version of my childhood wherein tiny clear plastic discs went flying off under the couch or down the heating duct. And did it really come with push-pins to steady the outer cogwheel?! Oh, those crazy ’60s.

Anyway. Here are two identical Spirograph designs, except for the thickness of the lines: 0.3mm on the left, 1.0mm on the right.

I like the versatility of the different thicknesses of line. I can colour the righthand design more solidly, as though it were stained glass; the lefthand one, I feel, needs a lighter touch of dots, crosses, and asterisks, retaining and enhancing its laciness. Here are the two designs, coloured in.

“I got you babe.” “I got you babe!” “I got you babe.” “I got you babe!”

My Partner’s Passion

My spouse has often wondered aloud whether she should be spending so much time on her photography. I think I’ve permanently damaged my eyes from two decades of rolling them. Photography is her bliss, of course she should follow it!

This week, she’ll be following her passion all the way to Japan. Woot! I get to stay home and be lazy. Double woot!

Now in case either of my readers are wondering about their own sweeties, here is my list of 10 reasons to suspect that one’s partner is passionate about photography.

1. You and your spouse together take the dogs for their afternoon walk. You always remember their scoop bags; she always remembers her camera.

2. The first thing she purchased for her trip to Japan was a weatherproof case holding 12 64gb memory cards.

3. On the third day, she arose from her desk chair, having chosen from among 200 possibilities the perfect camera-gear bag.

4. Her most frequently-used verb is “focus”.

5. She laughs in the face of snowstorms: they make excellent background for minimalist nature shots.

6. When typing online, she writes ISO more frequently than LOL.

7. She notices that one of your blog posts has no accompanying photo, so she helpfully emails you a few.

8. Her favourite colour is black-and-white.

9. She doesn’t notice a large gift, wrapped in pink and red tissue paper, sitting on her studio table (see #8 above).

10. Your pets are Bokeh the dog, F-Stop the cat, and Ansel and Adams the lovebirds.

Well all right, #10 exaggerates. But if you recognize five or more of these symptoms, you may well be living with a photographer.

#11. She crosses a busy highway to avoid overhead wires.
Taken by me on my iNonPhone.