My Wednesday post is late. Neither of my public is miffed — just terribly, terribly disappointed.
It’s been a long ten — no, make that eleven, she’s stuck on standby in Toronto — days without my sweetie. But I assure you, my readers, both of you, I’m ferpectly pine. The weather has been — oh, GAWD, PLEASE don’t talk about the weather! And NO, I do NOT WANT ICE in my ginger ale! I NEVER wanna see ICE AGAIN, EVERRRRRRR!
Well. You see how it is. I feel I have numerous qualifications for discerning the difference between bored and crazy, this week having been a refresher course.
1A. Bored: There’s a break in the w**th*r, so you browse the Dollar Store and return home with half a dozen items.
1B. Crazy: No matter what the w**th*r, you return home with half a dozen items from the Dollar Store for ten consecutive days.
2A. Bored: Although alone, you use up all the wilting veggies in a stew big enough for eight people, and eat it over the course of a week.
2B. Crazy: Your stew for eight makes your stomach bloat, but you eat it all week anyway.
3A. Bored: You spend three days revamping the kitchen pegboards with a fresh coat of paint and more hooks.
3B. Crazy: You replace all of the kitchen utensils onto the pegboard in alphabetical order.
that’s alll ofr now. My Gillian deprivation ahs made it almost impossibble to ytpe.
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.
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.
In the situation comedy “The Good Place”, which I’ve binge-watched twice, there’s an episode in which the town-square fountain acts as a streaming — well, oozing — giant punch bowl of chowder.
While the episode doesn’t state which type of chowder, the uber-tactful Eleanor declines a mugful with the words, “It’s basically a savoury latté with bugs in it.” So it could well be clam, although I remember my land-locked Ontarian father admitting that he’d never been able to eat lobster “because it looks just like a big cricket.” So maybe the Good Place was serving up multi-critter seafood chowder, then.
Now my Caper friend Ina, allergic to seafood, instead makes fish chowder. It’s delicious. I’ve been the grateful recipient of many a bowlful. Her husband Jim was raised in Cape Breton too, but by immigrants from Newfoundland.
Well! While researching Newfoundland today, I came across this lovely paragraph written by a shiny young 23-year-old naturalist named Joseph Banks, who spent a year studying the flora and fauna of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Ina and Jim comprise one-third of my readership. And no one’s been going anywhere this past week (it’s raining buckets, all over the ice, as I write this). So this passage is for you, Mort and Mac!
PS Joseph used no punctuation, so I’ve amended his account slightly.
After having said so much about Fishing, it will not be improper to say a little about the Fish that they catch & of the Dish they make of it Calld Chowder, which I believe is Peculiar to this Country. Tho here it is the Chief food of the Poorer, when well made [it is] a Luxury that the rich Even in England — at Least in my opinion — might be fond of. It is a Soup made with a small quantity of salt Pork cut into Small Slices, a good deal of fish, and Biscuit, Boyled for about an hour. Unlikely as this mixture appears to be Palatable, I have Scarce met with any Body in this Country Who is not fond of it.
At 17:30, our next-door neighbour texted to know what the shared driveway was like. I walked outside in the pouring rain in my zippered boots. It’s only ankle-deep, I replied. There’s an inch of crust over the slush. But the street looks like a river! Just watch the water, you’ll make it home all right.
At 17:40, the plough went by. It left a two-foot high wall of slush boulders in front of our parking pad, but only half that height across the shared driveway. Rather than texting Sarah back, I slipped on my raincoat and my big winter boots and thick leather mittens, and cut an entry through it the width of her car. Had been reading about Newfoundland fisherfolk; I figured I could put up with wet jeans for ten minutes.
Supper. Reading. Sleep.
At 05:38, Enviro Canada reported minus-5, with minus-13 wind chill. At 06:00, it reported minus-6, minus-15. So that’s a flash freeze.
At 7:06, having finished my journaling, I pulled on my big snow boots, winter jacket, tuque, wool scarf, thick leather mitts. Out the mud-room door onto the back porch, took the ice chipper and walked down the shared drive, my weight never breaking through the crust this time, to the front porch. Couldn’t pry the shovel loose; fetched the back-porch shovel instead.
Chopped at the front-walk crustiness, which broke into large shards like a whacked Mackintosh’s Toffee bar. Better footing now.
At 07:15, started in on the ice wall in front of Gillian’s car. Still dark. Peaceful. Underneath the wall, there remained an inch of slush. The wall was thus removable, chunk by chunk.
At 07:45, Gillian came out to help. I didn’t want the morning’s peace broken. Why don’t you give the dogs their breakfast and let them out, I said. Scat. Scoot. Sometimes a man likes to work in silence, and sometimes I’m a man.
At 08:00, a man with a toothbrush moustache and a lettered truck offered to clean the rest of the wall for free. No thank you, I said. You sure? Sure, I said. (Go away.) I can have that cleared in a jiffy. No thank you, I said. (Why would I want you to prove my efforts were all for naught?) That’s really hard, believe me! No thank you, I said. (Why should I believe you? I’m doing the work, you’re sitting in a truck.) Lettered truck man finally left.
At 08:15, a pigeon landed at my feet. Good morning, I cooed. Then its friend landed. Then their two friends landed. They had recognized me. Sure, I said. Set down my tools, walked along the crust, straddled the hobbit-door gate on the parking-pad side of the house, went around into the mud room.
I’m just in for a moment, I said; my friends have asked for some help. Would you like pancakes for breakfast? That would be lovely, I answered; I won’t be much longer.
Filled the cup with sunflower seeds for the ground-feeding birds. Scattered the seed under the feeder, the four pigeons swooping down to breakfast, trusting me. Shrugged off my winter jacket, left it on the outdoor table with the emptied cup. Examined my wall work; less than two feet to go.
At 08:35, I threw the final big chunk of ice onto the heap, and turned to make a grinning “feel my biceps” show-off posture at a passing car. It was the neighbours down the street; he had walked by earlier, on his way to work at the church, but apparently he was given the day off; his wife was fetching him home. He waved.