Friday, December 15, 2017

On Making Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Rebecca Jarvis wanted to take home made chocolate chip cookies to her volleyball party.

She laid down for a nap this afternoon and when she woke up, she thought it was already the day after the party.

 She self-corrected on that notion and came downstairs to make the cookies, but leaving the cooking close -- a couple of hours before her event was to begin.

Everything was going well. Well, perhaps maybe not that well. Catherine’s plastic 3-cup measuring cup has gone through the dishwasher so many times that the detergent has eaten away the red measuring lines on the cup. That is problematic for a new cook in the kitchen

And when measuring ½ a cup in a one cup metal container Rebecca and I had to figure out which ½ of the cup was the one we would really want to take.  I thought what we really wanted was just a 1/2 cup measuring unit, but there was not one to be found.

We couldn't get this outside fast enough!
At any rate, the butter and brown sugar got creamed, the flour and chocolate chips were added to the batter and we got the parchment paper on the cookie trays.

As she was working, Thomas came into the kitchen to make macaroni.

Catie arrived next to warm up last night’s birthday dinner. 

Catherine hadn’t eaten all day and she put her Arctic char in the microwave.

Five adults now squeezed in the same kitchen, all on different food-making agendas.

Catherine was doing double duty with Hebe, giving her a bath and at the same time noticing that the water in the bathroom was backing up.

 So she began to take out the drain and try to get the water running again, to no avail.

 It was just one of those days when unplanned for events started piling up.

I am still soaking the plate in our
favourite cleaner, trying to save
it, but I think it is headed for 
the recycling garbage.
Rebecca and I were working on a tight schedule.

We baked the chocolate chip cookies and then put them outside to cool, one of us standing guard at the window so that the squirrels didn’t take them away, and the other one of us timing the batches of cookies still in the oven.

 I was multi-tasking kitchen clean up as well, doing dishes at the same time and I wondered what the putrid burning smell was. I checked the cookies in the oven and all looked well. I wondered if the stove top had been turned on accidentally and nothing seemed to be wrong there. When Rebecca came back into the room I confirmed with her that something smelled like it was on fire. That is the moment when we noticed that instead of pressing the button on the microwave to start the timer, that the cook cycle was on instead.

When we opened the microwave, the top of the plastic food cover was melted and the size of the hole was about fist size. We could not tell what was on the plate under it, except that it was a blackened mess.

“Oh no, my mother’s Arctic char,” gasped Rebecca. “I didn’t mean for that to happen. And she hasn’t eaten all day.”

--now a flat plane of black bubbles ---
At the same moment, Eric called from work, for he was the recipient of the left-over food from an office party and needed a ride home.

As well, he was motion sick and hardly able to complete the day on his feet. The two of them decided to drop off the food at another Christmas party where he was to be Santa Claus but which he could now not attend because of the video he had watched had made him so sick he had to head for bed.

And when he came in the house to go to bed, the smell of the Arctic char, which I shall now call Arctic char-char, was not the most welcoming experience for him.  Nor for the rest of us.  Catherine and I took turns trying to return the house to a fresh air experience.

It is late evening now.

Just another happy Friday night for us at the Jarvis house, although the evening is not over.  Catherine has gone out to shop for Draino, though her own plumber told her not to waste her money on that product -- just use plunger power.

So far, that hasn't worked.



Gibby's Front Gates in Old Montreal
When the valet brought our car to us at the end of the evening,
it was strange to wonder how many horses and carriages had
pulled away from this spot hundreds of years ago.
Eric, Catherine, Catie and I stepped back in time when we entered Gibbys, housed in a magnificent 200-year-old building / stable in Old Montreal.

This was Catie's 18th birthday choice, a charming restaurant that boasts historic stone walls, original beamed ceilings, and a cozy fireplace.

A big yes to excellent food, superb service and a warm atmosphere.

The food was served on pewter dishes or on simple white dishes that were monogrammed with Gibby's logo, the stable gates.

The only down-side of any restaurant experience is the level of the noise.  Yet we leaned in towards each other and carried on a lively conversation of our own.

I told Catie that I could predict ahead of time that her dad would order a drink.  His was cranberry mixed with gingerale, which I could not have predicted.

... before the customers arrive ...
And Catie's drink covered all the pink hues, beginning at the bottom with a dark rose colour and then the colours rising to the top until there was just a gentle pink.  Beautiful.

A good time was had by all.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Extinguishing Angel - an afterward

I had to do it to myself -- I just had to see The Exterminating Angel.

The New Yorker gives a small review, a review so dense that I had to read it out loud.
Luis Buñuel’s absurdist 1962 film “The Exterminating Angel” skewers the comforts and complacency of the leisure class by forcing a group of guests to endure a never-ending dinner party that slowly drives them mad. Thomas Adès, in his gripping operatic adaptation, turns Buñuel’s quiet, Surrealist satire into a psychological horror show. The music is filled with sinister foreboding, brutalist percussive noise, jagged vocal lines, and fleeting wisps of romance, and Tom Cairns’s production fences in the well-heeled guests with a cold, monumental threshold that’s far removed from Buñuel’s luxurious yet cozy interiors. The singers work together like a crack theatrical ensemble, and Adès conducts the orchestra in a blistering performance.
I had such a good time watching the show.

 A scene from Thomas Adès’s “The Exterminating Angel,”
based on the 1962 Luis Buñuel film,at the Metropolitan Opera.
Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
I had prepared myself with lots of reviews, but probably not enough of them.

I was telling Eric about what made me laugh in the opera because previous to my seeing it, he had sent me a link to "The Hotel California" and told me that he thought the show was probably a cross between that song and Waiting for Godot.

Eric got the opera without seeing the show.

My biggest laugh came in the script where someone asked why the standards we desire (like having a table formally set with silverware) have dropped.

And the answer to the failed standard was something like, oh, the United States is setting the standard for us now.

Now that is a pretty funny line in an opera.

I would  have prepared 19 other questions and answers if I could have found anyone who wanted to take a quiz after the show for $$$$.

I did get to the theatre a bit early -- maybe 20 minutes.  One man was sitting at the very back and called to me, "I guess it is just you and me today".  I said, "We could go out and have coffee together for the next 10 minutes, but we can just chat here as well".  He told me how wonderful The Met Live performances are but that he usually just goes to New York to see the productions.  He has only seen about three of them in the cinema.  We chatted back and forth until other patrons began to arrive.

The seats were reserved -- I had to pick the exact spot where I wanted to sit.

Because the theatre was empty people were sitting in any spot.

Then someone on my row who had reserved that seat online came and asked them to move.  "Does it really matter when there are so many seats."

"This is the spot I paid for."

"Moving is such an effort when it doesn't really matter," replied the woman in a white puffed coat, stretching her arm out, while pointing to other seats.  The patron who had reserved the seat just stood her ground quietly.

Meanwhile a woman in an ankle length black opera coat was climbing over patrons, one by one, to find her seat.

I thought a Buñuelian absurdist event was shaping up before the movie even started.


Merry Christmas from Wyona

... the upside down tree ...
... white with black decorations ...
... a miracle to get a tree up so early ...
Thank you for the lovely party this afternoon and tonight.

Nothing like a child's birthday party.

The chili, cake and hot dogs plus the pre dinner snacks were exquisite.

 Greg said when he got home that he just loves watching those little kids. When they were upstairs they were delightful.

I don't know what happened downstairs and I did not check. They are so happy to see each other, so kind to each other, no-one that I saw even cried, not one child crying. I must commend you parents, the cousin generation, and how sweet, yet rambunctious at times, your children are. They are so much fun to watch and trying to interact with them is also a hoot. There were eleven children there and I think the same number of adults.

Any child who came near me I think I tried to tease them.

Maybe that is why they never bother me.

It was nice to have Matt and David at the party as well. And another funny thing, no-one cried when they had to leave.

Only Tim cried at the state of his basement but how fun it was!

Happy Holidays to all of you!

One year we will do Christmas at the lake.


I love shopping

Catherine snapped this picture when the subway train was heading in to our station.

I love shopping.  And we had done a lot of it:  2 pair of new shoes, and new keys. This moment was the end of it.

But I had another round at the stores today.

I don't need to buy anything.  I did get 3 scarves into my cart and 2 leather wallets that were 75% off.  I wish I could have gone through the check-out with all of that.

Even with any of it would have been good.

I  had the happiness of finding the items, of trying them on, and of believing that they would make a difference in my life when I wore them.

Then they went back on the shelves.

Catherine let me come to her clinic this morning.

I was trying to walk into the clinic for exercise.  The bonus was that she gave me my flu shot, something that has been hard to arrange.

The weather was cold.  When I tried to walk home my glasses were so foggy I couldn't really see where my feet were going.  I decided getting on the Metro was a good alternative and went to the shopping centre at McGill to finish walking.  I retraced my steps when it was time to go home, and I came out at Peel Metro Station which really made me laugh.  I didn't find my first metro station, but I was close.


On Turning Eighteen

Catie's Wish: a 3 Tiered Cake
Yule Log, Tuxedo Cake, Strawberry Cheese Cake
Nothing more could have been tucked into Catie’s birthday. 

She had been looking for new red shoes, doing on-line shopping, if not ordering, at least seeing what was available.

All of us had seen the red shoe with the ruffle at the heel, since Catie had shown it around the family, wondering if it was too much.

Catherine knew the birthday count down was on and that getting those shoes was not at the top of her list.
Street Music
Pick up a hammer, play the notes
represented here on metal bars

The three of us took the trip to the Alexis Nihon mall where Catie bought a beautiful tan suede high heel, but the perfect red shoe was not there in her size.

So off we went to the McGill Mall – a place where I might get lost and never be found again.

But Catherine didn’t let me wander since getting to the evening event meant not looking left or right.

So on the eve of Catie’s birthday we went to the Stake Christmas Music Festival.

We were not there on time for the pre-concert practise with the choir.
At the Carol Festival Concert

This was just one of those days when it was hard to get everyone in the car at the same time, and when exits from the freeway were closed, and when the streets were just packed with cars going who knows where.

Eric and I found a place where we disagree.

He said, better late than never. I told him, I was raised with “better never, than late”.

He laughed as he often does.

I think it is the laugh of recognition of differences, him believing in better late than never, and me believing in never, than late.

Catie packed her French horn along on her back.  She is only 3 times at tall as that horn.

Catie and her teacher played a duet: "Hark How the Bells".

The next day Catie played in her piano teacher’s Christmas Concert. 
The 18th birthday wish
Red Shoes

She played J.S. Bach’s "Three-part Invention in E-Major" and L. van Beethoven’s "Sonata in C-Major", one movement. 

Catherine said that she has never heard a concert where the students were so musical.

I absolutely agreed with her.

The sound in the hall was so good.
A Christmas Miracle
... we came across a Christmas tree 
decorated in red shoes...

Catie pointed out that it was because of the bevelled walls of the auditorium.

And further to that, the grand piano sounded so good.

On our way to the concert we got lost, even using the GPS. 

The address was 305, Mont-Royal Est, but Catherine didn’t type in the “Est”, so after we had paid for parking and discovered the mistake, we hopped back in the car.

But not before Eric had done his act of compassion.

A woman stopped him on the street and asked for money for food.
a Hanoukkah gingerbread house
... in Montreal Costco ...

He told her he would buy her a meal at the corner A & W and he motioned for the three of us to just continue on to the concert without him, that he would catch up.

When he met up with us he said told us that the A&W wouldn’t let him buy her a meal.

They brought out the manager who shook his hands at the customer to shoo her away. He told Eric that she is a regular beggar, and he didn’t want to have her in his establishment.  The manager would not let Eric buy her food.

And that was the unexpected part of Catie’s birthday.


Monday, December 11, 2017

More on Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent
On Rebecca's suggestion, I took the chance to see the film, Loving Vincent.  

I was really looking at the Cineplex Forum Website for the time of the Met production of The Extinguishing Angel when I saw that there were 3 performances of Loving Vincent, and one of them at a time when Catie and I could attend.

Having a house that is a ten minute walk from the Metro is a bonus in Montreal.  In less than 1/2 an hour we can be to the theatre, have our tickets purchased and be sitting in our seats.

I spent the evening googling Vincent van Gogh, his life, his painting and I also went looking for more about the making of this movie. 

The whole Jarvis family visited Auvers sur Oise this summer, so Catie was more familiar with the landscape than I.

If  you  are interested in six minutes about this film, click on this utube short.

Rebecca reminded me that in Paris we saw an exhibition that was built around Van Gogh's madness.  

When I was in Amsterdam with Zoe we spent a whole day in the Van Gogh Museum.

Still, I haven't seen enough.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sweet Singing in the Choir

Our choir director’s name is Olivia Hutchinson. As Catherine says of her, “Olivia, I would sing for you anytime, anyplace, anywhere”.

The performance music is in black binders which we pick up. She sings our notes before the pianist has turned the page to the next song.

She tells us to try singing as though we were speaking as Nemo does in Finding Dory and then she makes us practise this – no music, only words until we have the long drawn out sound on the vowels. 

Then she tells us to sing O Holy Night as though we were Nemo and we come to the words, “Fall on your your knees. The whole choir stops singing in amazement at the sound we have just made. 

“Don’t be too proud of yourselves,” she cautions. “We have more lines of music to sing and shouldn’t stop here.”

The piece de resistance comes at the end of choir practise. Anyone who still has a voice and desire walks through softly falling snow to the Villa Maria Metro stop (this is a block away from the church). We gather in a flat space behind the escalators and sing Christmas carols. The high ceilings and the huge space in the cavernous metro rotunda makes our voices sound much better than they are.

Little families are there -- now on their way home from church.  Last week Catherine brought Christmas hats for the small ones to wear. This week I noticed children who were old enough just held their choir parent’s hands and sung along.

Last week, metro patrons came over to give us money.

“No. We have no way to accept money. Donate it to a good cause of your choice.”

Today there was loud clapping.

Some people perch on a window ledge. Others gaze out the window as though they are unaware of the sound they are hearing. An old man lay on a metro bench, his knees tucked up so that he would fit on the concrete slab, a duffle bag under his head for a pillow. His eyes stayed closed as we sang.

Olivia, I would sing for you anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

And especially in the metro.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Loving Vincent ... a movie not to miss

Surrounding myself with Vincent for the week...
I headed off tonight to see "Loving Vincent" at the University Theatre.   Wow.

It is a feature length film, something of a 'mystery', as a young man attempts (a year after Van Gogh's death) to deliver a letter written by the artist to his brother Theo.

It is animated, done totally in the style of Van Gogh, using 65,000 hand-painted oil paintings

Here is the trailer.

Here is a newspaper article with a bit more detail on the film.

It was exquisite.  It was like occupying the world of Van Gogh's paintings (i think they said there are something like 180 of his originals that show up in the film.  The film is populated by characters from his paintings.   Years back, in one of my fits of pedagogical weirdness, I had been channelling arta by putting prints up on the walls and then trying to bribe the kids into learning the names.   Van Gogh had been up there.   And so it felt so INTIMATE watching the movie (like it was full of scenes and people I already knew).

The movie is so beautiful, though I also came home feeling so sad.   So... i pulled the Van Gogh prints off the shelf, and put them back up on the walls for the rest of the week.

I might see if I can catch the last showing again tomorrow.

If you get a chance to see this film, TAKE IT!

More Greetings from Salmon Arm

From Bonnie Johnson

Things are busy and wonderful here in Salmon Arm.

Diabetes Awareness Day Poster
Marla, David, and I had lunch at the Blue Canoe on Diabetes awareness day. David had learned about it at school and had reminded me to wear blue.

Noella and Marla had a cookie making day and then gifts were dropped at the doors of friends on the First of December.

Noella and I both like drawing, so we have a club that is just the two of us. We are starting to work our way through Revere's Big Project Book for Bold Engineers in our free time. Thanks to Richard, Miranda, Michael, Alice, and Betty for introducing me to Rosie Revere, Engineer - the children's story book.


Family Connections through Tabletop Games

From Bonnie Johnson:

My car only has room for one passenger today. 

Last night we loaded every table top game in our home into the car and took them to the Health Unit for the ASD Parent Support Group meeting.

On the white board I wrote:

" Family Connections through Tabletop Games"

Underneath I wrote a few definitions.

Family: A family is who they say they are. (Lorraine Wright and Maureen Leahey, 2009).

Tabletop Games: "Tabletop games are games that are normally played on a table or other flat surface, such as boardgames, card games, dice games, miniatures wargames or tile-based games." (Wikipedia, Dec 7, 2017).

There were 12 people who attended, with one group being a three generation family presence (4 yr old girl, mother, grand mother).

We played in various small groups a total of 5 games in one hour.

Just under half of us self-identify as having ASD.

There were many smiles, lots of learning, and an abundance of love in that room.

Some one asked David how we came to have over 70 games in our possession.

He recalled, it all began when my Great Aunt Janet and my Great Uncle Glen were cleaning out their attic. It was like a garage sale, but they let us take any of their games away for free.

Bonnie adds: If you study the photos, you just might see "Pilling" written on some of them. We consider ourselves just the careful caretakers of these games until their children or grandchildren want them back.


Greetings from Salmon Arm

From Bonnie

Things are busy and wonderful here in Salmon Arm.

Marla, David, and I had lunch at the Blue Canoe on Diabetes awareness day. David had learned about it at school and had reminded me to wear blue.

Noella and Marla had a cookie making day and then gifts were dropped at the doors of friends on the First of December.

Noella and I both like drawing, so we have a club that is just the two of us.

We are starting to work our way through Revere's Big Project Book for Bold Engineers in our free time.

Thanks to Richard, Miranda, Michael, Alice, and Betty for introducing me to Rosie Revere, Engineer - the children's story book.


RX - aqua size, a prescription for good health

Friday is acqua size at the Outrement swimming pool. Choose either the warm pool where the exercise is easier or choose the cold pool where heart rates can go up to its maximum number of beats for good health. Catherine and I are the last ones in the pool. Read, we are always 10 minutes late.

Today we were 20 minutes late and Catherine asked, "Is the exercise really worth it when we are this late?"

I can be on time.

Catherine can be on time.

What holds us up is that along the way to swim we have to drop Hebe off at school. She is not anxious to go. Catherine has to dress her in the morning, give her breakfast, and then Hebe goes back to lay on her bed. When it is time to go out the door, Catherine has to put on Hebe's boots, find her gloves, pull her monster hat down over her ears, zipper up her ski jacket and then listen to her say, "How dare you forget my homework."

And then we have family prayer. Of the 7 of us there, three are prostrate (still lying in bed) and 3 are on their knees (Eric, Catherine and me). Hebe gets to say the prayer. She leans against her mother and repeats the words told to her, with a few additions.

One of them is about the brains of her grandmother (still the stupidest woman ever and she adds something about her father, too, so I do not feel singled out). I am glad I am leaning on a bed with my forearms, since my whole body is shaking with such laughter.  I am careful not to let one sound bite come out of my mouth.  But I can't get  up,  until I can control the shaking of my body.  Someone asks me if I am alright.

Hebe, Catherine and I finally get in the car.

All the way to school Hebe is saying, "I am not going to school today."

When we get to school she lags behind her mother as they walk past the automatic double doors and into the rotunda of the school.  We are so late that the woman who is there to check off the names of the children in each classroom is not in the hall anymore.

Catherine and I watch Hebe's back as she slowly walks straight ahead and into her classroom.

A lonely looking little figure.  Her snow pants which were over her arm are now dragging on the floor and the weight of her back back is almost overwhelming to her shoulders.


 Swim class.

 The best day ever.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Young Marx - reviewed by Catie

{Incised in gold letters in the granite:}
Workers of all lands unite. 
Karl Marx. {On an old white marble stone:} 
Jenny von Westphalan, the beloved wife of Karl Marx, 
born 12th February 1814, died 2nd December 1881. 
And Karl Marx, born May 5th 1818, 
died March 14th 1883. 
And Harry Longuet, their grandson, born July 4th ...
Grandmother and I hit the show with lots of contraband (candy from the Dollarama and Rootbeer and giant chocolate bars with hazelnuts from Catherine's storage unit).

We have a new view of Marx and Engles.

Engles played a big part in supporting Marx.

And even though Engles said he was not an analyst, he had a whole monologue on the word "brutalized" which he said Marx could never use again when speaking of himself.

Now Engles let us see behind the scenes in the Manchester districts that we don't hear about: 10 families living in a small area, one bathroom, and children play in excrement.

The artistic director, Nicholas Hytner told us that some of the most crazy and usual things we would see in the play were true.  There was a duel for Marx's wife Jenny who went off with another communist for a night.

The two men decided to have a duel.  The editor of the newspaper showed up to tell Marx information, people leading the battle said to get out of the way and the editor was the one who got shot. 

Apparently Marx started a fight in the London reading room of the National Library.  Marx met Darwin there in the library and in this play gave Darwin the idea of using the phrase "The Origin of the Species".  This might not be true, but it made the audience laugh.

Marx had boils on his butt which he lanced himself for his wife wouldn't help him.  He showed the audience how he did that with a mirror.

Marx spent a lot of time hiding in the closet, mostly from creditors.

He hid in the chimney.  Nym, the maid, came in and kept shifting around the coals and I was afraid something more was going to happen there.

The funeral for Marx's young song, Foxy, was a serious moment.  Marx told the grave digger to join the funeral and not be ashamed of the worker's clothes, which showed that he was always aware of his philosophy.

Having the show end  by demonstating that Marx might not have written the book himself, but that he played his ideas off of Nym, Jenny and Engles, was a good idea.

We could see that when Engles said he would support Marx and his family with 5 pounds a week, that truly Engles saw the value in Marx's ideas and that was important.

I like the stage setting.  As the director was saying, he created this theatre to have the theatre adapt to the needs of the play.  We saw rooms and scenery on one turntable of a building, so the the doors opened up into each other.  The scenery was dark.  It was never really light, though we had the street lamps.

There was always something to laugh about which was a good way to keep interest up.  I am not good with historical terms, so I was wondering if I would get the communist / capitalist dichotomy.  But the way they presented it made it easy to understand.  When it is personal and working through the characters it makes more sense.

The Soho video was helpful at the intermission.  By the end of the first act, we really hadn't seen what the district of Soho in London was like.  But when the historian talked about the context of Soho with these characters, the stage was set for the second portion of the act.

By that time we knew who was whom, and what they stood for.  We saw how important Nym was.  She was the maid who ended up being like family for she was a gift to Jenny when Jenny married Marx.  The fact that she is named on the gravestone makes her family.  The gravestone says Workers of all lands unite.  When Grandma and I got home we checked on wiki to see what it costs to visit the grave:  $6.  Apparently the cemetery is on private property and it costs money for upkeep.

Engles had sophisticated clothing.  Marx's shirt was rarely tucked in and his hair was all over the place.  You could tell by the costuming, the social place people had in society.  You could see the class from the clothing, though Marx was working to change that.

Someone warned Marx that he would fight him to the end of eternity.  Marx explained that eternity has no end, so what he was saying made no sense and so could not be true, which establishes the fact that humour was always present in the play.

And this is the end of my review.


Musee des beaux-arts du Canada - permanent collection

Finally a chance to sit and rest
in front of a stained glass window.
Thursday is the day that the Musee des beaux-arts is free for people over 65 years old.

I am familiar with taking the bus down to the museum now. I was hoping to stay there most of the day.

 There was no Mary around to pack me a lunch. I wish I had thought of doing it on my own.

When I arrived I went straight to the fourth floor for the first hour.

 I wanted to look at their Inuit art collection.

I walked slowly and enjoyed about 2/3rds of it.

Couldn't help but fall in love
with the Swan element of this chair
When I got off of the elevator on the fourth floor, I couldn’t go straight to the collection for I had to gaze out of the windows at the beautiful setting – Montreal at its best seen through those windows: the mountain, charming apartment buildings, gracious homes, the sculpture garden below me.

I thought I was going to cry. I may have done a few quiet heaves of the chest as I looked out of the window. I tried to remember that in the heart clinic someone told me that if that happens, just let emotion overwhelm me. I did take some long breaths.

I looked for the tour of the day.

It was a 45 minute tour of the new Peace Pavilion.

Most of the patrons there were wanting the French tour which was good for me, since only three people came with us to see the four floors through the eyes of the English translator.

Ruby Pineapple Chandelier
Chihuly Glass Collection
On my tour later, I was to discover that the architect designed the outer gardens so that people would have an emotional reaction to them.

The woman pointed out how the aluminum beams are the only structure between us and lovely Montreal.

I loved my time in that museum.

Now I am trying to figure out with the days I have left, should I just buy a museum pass for the year?


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Bus Route #715, Montreal

Wyona with a paintbrush in hand 
Winter 2017 Series
The forecast for today was for 7 above with rain.

That feels like a summer day in Montreal.

I walked into the subway for my 10,000 steps, hoping to get most of them in the underground malls.

The information person told me that the biggest mall was the at McGill station.

 I am absolutely urban.

 I would rather get my steps on the concrete than on the grassy strip of land beside a rural road.

As well told me to get off at Place d’Armes to catch the 715 bus (Old Montreal).

Getting off here was a mistake the next man told me and sent me off to Berri Uqam.

These are the days when being retired is the best. Time doesn't matter.  Around every corner, an adventure.

I rode the Bus # 715 first of all, looking at the houses on the left, the falling raining drizzling down my window. The next time I did the route I looked at the houses on the right. The third time I circled the route I looked out the front window, the windshield wipers of the bus making clean sweeps across the pane of glass as I enjoyed Old Montreal looking straight ahead. On the fourth round, the bus driver called back to me, “How many times are you going to go around the route. You can’t go around all day.”
Hummingbird Series 2017

“I can’t?” I thought to myself. “I have a bus pass for the entire month.”

I am not going to fight with a bus driver.

I called back to him, “Just one more time.” And around I went.

That ride was a great alternative to a Hop On-Hop Off bus. 

I asked Catherine for her “tour Montreal” books so that I can figure out what it was that I was seeing on the ride: statues, harbours, bridges, parks, and historic buildings.  I couldn't name any of them.


Monday, December 4, 2017

On guilt and bribery

On her blog, Rebecca captures some ideas about parenting that highlight the benefits of using guilt and bribery in parenting. 

You can access these by clicking on her Law Film and Feminism blog on the right hand sidebar to this blog.

Or you can access the post by clicking here.


The Writing on the Wall

The Writing on the Wall:
Works of Dr. Joane Cardinal-Schubert 
The Writing on the Wall: Works of Dr. Joane Cardinal-Schubert, RCA is the name of an exhibition that is showing at the Nickle Arts Gallery. The show closes Dec 16th. If you are at the university and have time to go look at it, it will be well worth your time.

If not, at least take a look at this site.

I spent an hour at the show in the Fall and was meaning to go back and see it again, but missed my chance to do that.

I am sure I will buy the catalogue.  I looked at it when I was there, but hadn't brought my credit card along.

Richard, you will remember that I told you to take your kids and let them look at the large paintings and the skins, also.

Free, for the taking.


Home Sweet Home

I asked Catie if I could become stylist for the flaming-red
red hair she has.
Last night the Peter and Nora Young family came over for supper.

That made 11 of us around the dinner table.

I was somewhat reminded of when we had that many people at home for supper, reminded especially of the numerous side conversations that happen among people around a large table.

At one point only Eric and I were at the table.

I did the styling but we had no two way mirror
so that she could see what I was doing.
Catherine had introduced supper saying among other things, that Sunday is the day they pull out the fancy beverages, and she proceeded to put at least six colourful bottles on the table, inviting people to take juices of their choosing.

As well she told the children that this was a day when they only had to take food they wanted. Nothing was to be put on their plate that was not of their choosing.

I think the plates were piled higher than usual.

Back to the side conversations, I asked Eric when it was that he first knew he loved juice.

As long as I have known him, I have also known that he likes juice.

She told me if I took a picture on her phone,
she could at least see what was happening back there.
In fact, sometimes when I am shopping back in Alberta, I go down the juice isle and wonder if I can find a bottle of something he hasn’t tasted before.

He laughed when I asked him the question, when is it that you first knew you liked juice?

He answered that he has always loved juice, but he thinks it was cemented when his family was on George’s sabbatical to Switzerland.

He said that the juices were plentiful and fresh and that is when he must have known how delicious they could be.

I did a good job at taking the pictures.
She couldn't leave my work in for
more than 10 minutes.

Of course George also loved juice as had George’s father, though his love was concentrated more in the fruit than the juice.

At any rate if you are here on Sunday, be prepared for a variety of drinks at the table.

Speaking of living with other families, here I am until the 9th of January.

I see something every day that is so charming and which reminds me that this is just a normal little family like any other.

Hebe hasn’t quite decided how I am fitting into the family: should I be ignored or engaged with.

I did put some chocolate chips in front of her and then turn my back and say I hoped she wouldn’t take any, as I stooped to take some flour out of the bin to make brownies.

She only took out three.

I turned back to her, asking her if she had taken any and she said, “It really wouldn’t matter for there were lots in the container for me, whether I took some or not.”

I don’t know how to get reciprocal teasing in with her, though she did try some of her own before we ate supper.

I am going to the hair magazines to see
what it was I was doing that was so wrong.

Hebe was asked to say the blessing.

I decided to watch her, not with my eyes wide open, but there was enough space left that I could see her face as she prayed.

She didn’t close her eyes at all and leaned against her mother's arm for support while she was saying the blessing.

I noted that half way through the blessing a slight smile came across her face and the regular rhythm of the blessing was interrupted and she said “And bless grandmother who is stupid”, and if not those were not the words, they were something much worse.

Her parents ignored the parenthetical addition to the blessing.

I was thrilled to see the smile that flashed across her lips before she said those words.

Maybe not the right time, but the right impulse.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

An Arcade Party

an afternoon party -- volleyball at the church
gaming in the front room,
digging into cinnamon buns
find Meghan, Zoe, Rebecca, Brendan, Thomas
Eddie and Alex
Thomas and his dad were going to hit the arcade at 8 am.

Now that could have been fun.

But it didn't happen.

This house is full of night owls.  When I went to bed Thomas was up doing artificial intelligence work/games.  Catie was studying for an exam on Monday.  Rebecca was rejoicing for she had received her first wedding invitation which brought with it the worry of what to wear.  And their dad had papers and books on the table as well.

 ... who says multi-tasking doesn't work ...
Catherine had gone to sleep during scriptures so she was already in bed.  Not to make the point worse, but we were reading in Ether.

Catherine choose one verse to read herself, a shorter verse for Hebe and after that she didn't hear a word.  Out like a light.

At any rate, those who go to bed earlier, get up earlier, so the arcade event didn't work out, even though it would have been a lot of fun, in my mind.

... cinammon buns when they are hot ...
Thomas had some friends over for the afternoon -- one from his former high school. They began the day by playing volleyball. Then they moved home and set out a board game.  They ended their day by having cinnamon buns.  I don't like to have any left over the next day.  I told the boys that I was locking the doors and no one was allowed to leave until both pans of buns were gone.  They helped out as best they could.


NDG Food Depot’s Annual Food Drive

.... Hebe wearing the volunteer hat ...
NGO - "non governmental organization"
Last night Catherine told her family that the NDG Food Depot’s Annual Food Drive is underway. Catherine tried to engage her family in helping.  The kids reminded her that they do other food banks.  She wanted them to work for the catchment of the community we live in as well.  It was a tough sell.

By the time we were to be at the school today, six of the seven of us were in the car.  One person's charitable project is not anothers.

Catherine picked up the instructions for the route we were to cover.  We had three long blocks to walk.

Catie and I started out on one side of the street, together, me fearing that someone might speak to me in French, which the first person did.

That would have just been one conversation too many for me. Catie wove her way down the street, working both languages, identifying us and then asking if people had food stuffs or money that they wished to donate.

Catherine thinks that we collected 2/3 more food than they did on the other side of the street. Who knows why that happens. If people wanted to give, but hadn’t collect anything, I was happy to wait for whatever they could put in a bag. Catie moved on to the next house. We would probably be good doing political proselyting during an election.  Or if not good, efficient.

The most unusual conversation on our side of the street was the woman who said she couldn’t give us anything because she was frying eggs. “Next time,” we said and hoped she went right back to save her eggs.

On Catherine’s side of the street someone said at the door, “I have nothing for you. I just got home from grocery shopping.” Thomas silently wondered what that meant. The man went on, “I have a bad cold from my wife as well. I have nothing to give.” The man turned to go back inside and Hebe said to her mother, “What was that about?” Her mother raised her hands not knowing what to say. The man stopped himself, went back into the house and brought a money donation for them.

“Generous. That is what people are in the main,” I thought as we walked along the street. One family left us three big brown boxes full of canned goods. We hardly had the strength to carry them to the van. Another family let their four year old carry the bags to the door to give to us. Another man said that their fanily had just moved in and were having a house warming party Sunday next. All the guests are asked to bring a non-perishable food for the food bank instead of a house-warming gift.

I came home feeling overwhelmed with the munificence of those who live with abundance.  A lovely Saturday morning.

The Four Foot High Package

Eric arrived home at 6 pm, with a four foot brown paper wrapped package, and then plastic wrapped around that package.  He had been running.

At first I thought he was bringing home the stuffie that he always makes sure Hebe gets every year.

Every year, bigger and better.

Last year it was a brown dog that stretches across the foot of a bed – really a dog that needs a house of its own.

Since Hebe was in the room, I doubted that this was her gift for the year, 23 days early, though it had the size for it.

I guessed flowers, since I said, “Oh no, flowers.”

I wish the idea of wasting money wasn’t associated with this for me.

And Catie guessed, not just flowers, a poinsettia.

I thought no, too tall.

But when the wrapping came off and the branches relaxes the true size of the poinsettia was there for me to see.


I asked Catherine how often Eric does this for it happened when I was here a few weeks ago, and now this new burst of beauty.

She laughed and said, I think you have been here are both occasions this year.


Friday, December 1, 2017

December -- the beginning, again

... testing the Twixt bar recipe ...
Tonight we were trying to decide which of the Christmas joys to book into our collective calendars.

For one thing, I am trying to spread the baking and the cooking of extravagant entrees over the whole month instead of trying to have them all happen on the week around the holidays.

At this house there is a Jarvis traditional fondue that lasts from 6 pm until 10 pm.

That pretty well takes care of Christmas Eve.

And this year there is a problem with the timing for shopping, since some of the stores are closed on Sunday.

That is just Montreal.

... chow mein ...
Two of my hopeful joys are out of the way.

One was making a big pot of chow mein for people who like Chinese food.

The second of my hopes was to make home made Twixt bars that would at least match the ones I saw Mary make.


A success on two counts.


Edible Slime

 ... edible slim stretches from the right hand to the left ...
Hebe has been watching utube videos, one of which is a 12 year old showing how to make edible slime.

The recipe involved vegetable shortening and gummy bears.

Yesterday when we were at Provigo, Catherine slipped 3 plastic containers full of gummy bears into the shopping cart.

Hebe spent the night sorting them by colour: red, blue, green and yellow.

... this stuff swings back and forth ...
Tonight the moment of reckoning occurred.

Catherine had to put the orange gummy bears into the microwave.

They came out a jellied mess/mass into which some vegetable shortening was added.

Next, the instructions were not that clear.

 ... the mess on my hands?   uncontrollable ...
Either one’s hands could be dusted with corn flour or the cooling ingredients could just be taken and rolled between the palms of one’s hands until they were a sphere.

... i can suck it like spaghetti ...
Hebe was not sure that corn flour was cornstarch, the only ingredient we had.

Given her insecurity about using that, both Hebe and Catherine began to roll the edible slime.

I took a taste – there was a distinct burning in the back of my throat as the orange flavouring reached the back of my mouth.

Catie just said no to trying the slime and she hid her heads in her university papers.

... help me get this off of my hand ...
Catherine and Hebe were wildly into the experiment – Catherine because she had been nagged for days to make this happen; Hebe because it was the fulfillment of a wish created by a u-tuber from Australia.

Hard to know who will influence our lives next.


The Best Part of My Day

Half way through the deep water exercise today, I knew that I am going to sign up for more swimming when I get back to Calgary. I was thinking about this as we were working on the core muscles, and as the instructor was demonstrating that we should tighten up the muscles in our stomach and put our shoulders back. My breathing felt as though it was going so deep into my lungs.

Catherine and I were laughing equally hard at some of the exercises we were doing. With two dumbbells in my hands, and then trying to use my legs to go from one side of the pool to the other, all I could do is stay stationary. And when we would touch our heels and then our toes, alternating, we kept moving backwards in the pool.

One lady came over to have a conversation with Catherine. She had been looking at us for a while. I saw Catherine laughing and then saying, “Yes she is my mother.” The lady was telling Catherine that the two of us look exactly alike. Both of us had a good stare at each other, me seeing a younger version of me, and her seeing what things might look like if she lives another 30 years.

I first learned about this cream
when Greg Bates's doctor recommended
it to him as one of the finest creams around.

Best Price?
I have been babied, both by Mary and by Catherine. I was noticing that agin today, for in the shower room, Catherine was making sure I had CeraVe cream for my legs, face cream for my face, shampoo, and then conditioner. She takes my clothes and gets them in and out of the locker. Having her there is like having a private maid.

We both agreed that the CeraVe takes care of skin in a way that no other cream does.

Catherine said she recommends it to all of her patients who ask. 

She said it is too expensive for some.

I was reminded again of gifts of privilege.

When I was thinking of the best part of my day, I think it was that moment in the pool when I realized how wonderful it feels to work extra muscles.

Such a gift.

Opus Card

 I have an Opus Card – valid for seven years and it makes me eligible for reduced fairs on the metro. The fare for December is just under $50 and I can ride my heart out, which I hope to do.

Today Catherine dropped me off at the Mount Royal Metro and I walked my heart out before I finally went underground. The walk reminded me of reading The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler many years ago – the street names, the shapes of the houses, and the tiny narrow streets. I finally let myself go into some of the shops: leathers from India, shops full of tourist mugs, discount houses. I brought home two new scarves, as if I need them. The best part of buying them was that the woman at the cash register took my scarf and put it over her head, then showing me three different ways that I could use the scarf. I think her English was about as good as my French, but I caught on to the fashion demonstration.

I feel confident on the Metro. Not that I didn’t miss my stop today and then went to the end of the line, just to see what was out there. Retirement is a wonderful thing. Strange, the feeling of going to the underground and not carrying baggage as we always seemed to be doing in London. Now I go lightweight: a money pouch full of credit cards around my waist and some gloves in the pocket of my jacket. The scarf today was to keep the wind off of my neck, though I didn’t need to buy 2.

graffiti on buildings
in Monyreal
Next time I go to the Mount Royal Metro I am going to walk the quaint streets full of students, spend more time looking at the psychedelic colours of the graffiti on the brick walls of buildings and walk in the opposite direction from today. Catherine offered to buy a book form me that is full of these images. I am starting to worry about the challenge of maintaining the same weight in my luggage going home as that which I brought with me. I might leave some scarves behind.


Questions for Young Marx

Here are some questions that you can answer after the show.  If you are with Grandmother Arta, you will get $1 up to a maximum of 10 questions.  You may ask questions of your own or answer these questions.

1. Name the two protagonists in the show.

2. In the closing credits, the following pictures roll by:  Che, Ronnie and Maggie, the Occupy Movement, Nelson Mandela, and we hear music from Bob Dylan.  What do any of these have to do with the movie.  Alternatively, what do all of them have to do with the movie.

3. Name the new theatre where this production is showing.

4. Name the semi-literate Irish woman who was friends with Engles.  An extra point if you know the name of her sister.

5. Take a point if you go out on the internet and see the statue of Marx at Highgate Cemetery.

6. Explain what Marx means when he predicts that Christmas will become “a week-long festival of commodification”.

7. What is the most famous book written by Marx?

8. What are mutton chop whiskers.  Did you observe any of them in the movie?

9. Some of the other characters are creditors, spies, rival revolutionary factions and prospective seducers of Marx's beautiful wife. Can you identify any of them?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Young Marx

Shades of music hall … Rory Kinnear and Oliver Chris. 
Photograph: Manuel Harlan
Mary said that she was taking Xavier and Naomi to Young Marx, the next in the NT Live productions on Thursday.

Michael Billington reviews the play in The Guardian. He declares "farce, family and finances but not quite the full Marx".

I wondered, after reading the review, what the full Marx would really look like.  I have only come to him tangentially through courses.

I looked for famous quotes from Marx.

I did not know any of the first set:
Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please. 
The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs. 
The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
Young Marx
There is another review in The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw.

He calls this play a bromance, a category I haven't really thought of.

In any case, I love these reviews.  They give me food for thought, and food for questions that I am going to ask my grandchildren, whichever ones will accompany me.

And I have to be ready, should they ask some questions in return.