Garbage Day is Any Day

I was looking out the bedroom window, when a garbage truck pulled up beside our house.

A man ran up our walk, grabbed the garbage can and dumped its contents into the truck.

“What’s a garbage truck doing here on a Saturday morning?” I asked Andy.

“Oh, it usually comes on Thursday,” Andy said. “But it must be a bit late.”


Sisterhood of the Traveling Mitts

The mitts Andy gave me for Valentines’ Day are quite large, falling off my hands. He suggested that we take them to one of his student’s wife, who was familiar with working with hide, and who could most likely alter them.

I met Andy at the shop, so we could drive to his student’s home together. Children were playing outside. A boy on a miniature skidoo, pulling younger siblings on a little sled, was careening up and down the snow piles around the house.

“Who are you?” A little girl, with rose tinged cheeks asked.

“I am here to see your Dad,” I told her. She looked skeptical.

“What’s his name?” She asked.

When I told her his name, she nodded and pointed towards her house. “That’s OK, then.”

Upon entering I was met by Meredith and her sister, Madelyn. Andy didn’t want to take his boots off, and so he stayed in the hallway.

“What do you do?” Meredith asked.

“Well, right now, nothing much. I left my job in Montreal to come here.”

“What did you do in Montreal?” she demanded. I am slightly taken aback, as I often am when confronted with direct question so quickly, as is custom here. I realize how I have been conditioned to social niceties, which seem so unnecessary here, where conversations and questions are direct and upfront.  Question:  Where are you from?  Answer:  A small town, called Pointe Claire Village, near Montreal.  Next Question:  Where do you COME from?  Answer:  My ancestors were the Viking tribe … well actually, my parents and I came from Germany. Knowing who belongs where and where they come from is of importance here.

“I worked as a documentation specialist and a proofreader before that.”


“Just administration stuff, nothing important,” I added.

Thankfully, Meredith’s son, the one driving the skidoo, arrived at the door, yelling “More Gas!”

I showed my mitts to the women and after careful examination and discussion, they agreed that it would be too much work to render them down to a smaller size. It would be as much work as making an entirely new set of mitts.

“Those are man’s mitts,” Meredith said, handing them back to me. Andy said he would keep the mittens for himself. Marilyn said she was in the process of making a woman’s pair and showed me some of her handiwork. I commission her to prepare the mitts for me so I would have some that fit.

We chatted for a while longer about children, pets, our mothers and sewing, until I notice that Andy was becoming impatient, standing in the hallway, his boots puddling on the floor. I thank both women for their time.

When back in the car, I realized, how much I missed talking to women.

The Wolves are Back in Town

I want to ski across the lake alone today … to explore the other side.

The previous evening, Andy mentioned that he heard there’s a couple of wolves hanging around town. This area has been pretty much hunted out and predatory animals are hungry enough to take out local dogs.

One of Andy’s students had told him how he was out with his four dogs, when a decoy coyote/wolf lured his dogs into the bush where the pack was waiting in ambush. He heard a lot of barking, then high-pitched shrill screams … only two dogs returned. The next day, the owner went into the bush, and only found the muzzle of one of the missing dogs.

“I really liked that dog,” he said.

Fresh Moose at the Door

We were cleaning up after dinner when the doorbell rang. One of Andy’s students stood in the hallway, holding out a Ziploc bag of deep burgundy meat.

He had been hunting, he explained, with four guys and they took a moose.

“Where?” I asked.

He described a trip of about 100 km. by truck and another 100 km. or so by skidoo.  It took them four days.

We were touched by his generosity and thanked him profusely. I ran into the basement and pulled a frozen lemon loaf out of the freezer to offer in appreciation.

After he left we wondered … should we have accepted this meat?  It was an unsolicited gift from a student, and we didn’t offer money.

Maybe I should do some more baking … you don’t know what might appear next. Ground bear or beaver tails?

Giant Bumblebees Stuck in Ice

Andy and I decided to ski across the lake. Skidoo tracks span it’s entire surface in crisscross patterns. At night, I’ve observed the machines from the living room window, dancing like fireflies in the dark.

There is a section near town, in an inlet, where water has percolated over the ice, forming large puddles. Open water?  An object was embedded in the ice nearby, resembling a giant bumblebee, nose up, from its black and yellow stripes. It must be a skidoo, I surmised  and hoped the driver was able to jump to safety.

It was cold. I felt a pain between my eyes when crossing, facing the wind, reminiscent of the pain of eating ice cream on a hot summer afternoon – nothing a hot pot of tea couldn’t cure.

Celtic Love Spoon and Warm Mitts

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day!  Andy presented me with beautiful hide mitts, with soft grey fur lining. These mitts are meant to be worn over regular mitts and fit easily over parka sleeves. They can be slipped off, offering more dexterity when operating machinery outside, etc. The braided rope keeps them from getting lost in the snow.

Also, my sweetie carved a Welsh (Celtic) love spoon. His students took a break from regular work to carve these spoons, and I am sure that many sweethearts in the community received one …

In return, I cooked a lovely Indian dinner. I had a recipe for curry (I use beef; however, the original recipe probably calls for goat) given to me by an Indian woman from South Africa I had worked with at Calgary General Hospital eons ago. It is an especially good recipe, as it requires freshly ground tomatoes to be added just before serving, giving the dish a fresh appeal. Along with that, was a chicken korma with cauliflower, dal with spinach, and basmati rice. For appetizers, we had samosas, brought frozen from Alain’s Depanneur in Pointe Claire Village.  Of course, this necessitated a couple of cold Belgian beers …

Spic n’ Span

Today is my cleaning day. Of five major appliances, only the stove and fridge function fully. The dryer works, but the timer doesn’t. I need to set the microwave timer so my clothes won’t burn. The washer usually works, but needs a well-placed whack in a specific area on the lid. This sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t.  The dishwasher is considered a luxury item, and will not be repaired.

“How could all these high-end, relatively new appliances not be repaired?” I asked the owner of the house.

He explained that it wasn’t worthwhile having appliances fixed. Repair persons would not come out this far, and he would have to actually transport items to be repaired to the nearest service centre. When the appliance finally dies, they are just replaced with new ones.

Now, I have been using a drying rack for clothing.

Oh, yes, there is no vacuum cleaner either, so I use a broom to sweep up dark blue, gray and white curlicues of dust.

Dishes? Where do they all come from? I’ve washing dishes by hand.

Without the long cycles of the dishwasher, whirring of the food processor, buzzing of the microwave, slapping of wet laundry in the dryer, there is a meditative stillness – no static or noise, just the hum of a quiet house … and it is good!