27 October 2019


I was on the way to work the other day, when I walked past five tidy tree pits, freshly planted with ornamental kale. In the middle of each pit, nestled up to the tree, was a plastic rock.

I've been thinking about how one waters new trees in tree pit street plantings, because our town has just planted a whole lot of new trees as part of a street-scape rehabilitation. There are no visible watering devices, but the town claims that the trees are being watered by hand. I hope so.

What I've seen in the past are those cone-shaped plastic bags that wrap around the tree. The water seeps out slowly and the bags need to be refilled periodically.

The rocks were, arguably, less unattractive.

I mean, it's clearly a PLASTIC rock, but it's not that awful.

Idly, because I have eclectic interests, I googled "tree watering rock" (as one does) and found the manufacturer of those very rocks!

I confess to unmitigated glee when I learned that said tree watering rocks are good for admonishing existing sprinkler systems. Enhancing? Augmenting? Intensifying? No, admonishing.

Herewith, I admonish the copy writer. Use the right verb!

13 October 2019

Not So Blank Books

I confess to being a sucker for a blank book. So, I wasn't surprised when I spent time cleaning out under the packrat child's bed and found, oh, upwards of twenty of them.

Some were untouched.

And some had two or three or seven pages written or drawn on, and then ... nothing.

So - I put a few of the virgin ones aside, and set to ripping out the marked up pages of the others so I could put them in the Take It Or Leave It pile.

But ... but ... but ...

I couldn't not "keep" a few things.

From a book of "lists", I learned that she wants to take a road trip to the Mid West, that she doesn't plan to marry Marquise or have 20 children, and that she needs to go down a zip-line at least once. (Also, she used to spell poorly.)

I am happy to report that she has, in fact, been down a zip-line at least once.

A book with a wolf on the cover, a book that I remember to have been bought in Yellowstone, where we heard a lecture about wolves, included a poem.

in and out of trees,
a White Ballet,
Flying over the fresh snow,
the king of the forest,
Protecting his family for Life.

And finally, one book included a list of cat names - for girl cats and boy cats.

My mother always said she was going to name a cat Puifor, as in Puiforcat, the French silver company. How delightful to find Puifor on the list.

10 October 2019

Oh To Be An Undergraduate Again. Or Not.

Death on the Cherwell

Death On The Cherwell, by Mavis Doriel Hay, was a fun read, perhaps because I'm a sucker for books set in colleges - especially Oxford ones. It grabbed me from the second paragraph, which so beautifully describes new college students - past and present:

Undergraduates, especially those in their first year, are not, of course, quite sane or quite adult. It is sometimes considered that they are not quite human. Emerging excitedly from the ignominious status of schoolgirl or schoolboy, and as yet unsteadied by the ballast responsibility which, later on, a livelihood-earning career will provide, they enter the university like beings born again with the advantage of an undimmed memory of their former lives. Inspirited by their knowledge of the ways in which authority may be mocked, they are at the same time quite ridiculously uplifted by the easy possibility of achieving local fame in the limited university world during the next three years. Conscious of the brevity of their college life, they are ready to seize every opportunity to assert their individuality. The easily acquired label of “originality” is so much more distinguished than the “naughtiness” of their outpassed schooldays, and quite a lot of wildness may be mixed with a modicum of work and form a sound basis for a highly respectable later life.

It's a twisty silly mystery, but enjoyable - and sometimes that's just the ticket.

06 October 2019

Four Days In Montreal

As you will remember, I have an internet friend, one of those people I’ve never met, and yet – YES, SHE IS MY FRIEND. The internet is awesome. Anyway, said friend and her husband jet off periodically for long weekends, and call them “Crazy Trips™”. I like that designation.

We – my kid, my husband, and I – made a Crazy Trip™ last weekend. We left Saturday, returned Tuesday, and spent three nights in Montreal. I had never been there before, the child had a four day weekend thanks to Rosh Hashanah, and she had expressed interest in visiting McGill so…

We stayed in an unremarkable hotel in the downtown, walking distance to both McGill and old Montreal.

The child practiced her French – reading the instructions on the parking meters, transacting business in shops, ordering Timbits in a Tim Horton’s. (Despite taking French into college, mine is now non-existent.)

We ate well:

  • Oysters and grilled octopus at Belon
  • Viande fumée (smoked meat) sandwiches at Schwartz’s
  • Bagels (natch) at St-Viateur
  • Coffee at a seemingly unnamed coffee shop a few doors away from the bagel place (it must have a name, but it wasn't on their business card or on the credit card receipt)
  • Breakfast (pastries, and yogurt/granola/fruit) at La Finca
  • Sandwiches in a funky garden at Café Santropol (it seemed like the sort of place that would have alfalfa sprouts on the sandwiches but no sprouts!)

The best meal was at larrys – it was a hodgepodge of little dishes: a pork chop, some roasted cauliflower, a flammkuchen, a salad of peaches and corn and feta, and some warm goopy eggplant. And maybe some other things that I can’t remember. And a lovely unfiltered white wine from Germany that I need to chase down.

Shopping was fun – we wandered up and down Saint-Laurent marveling at the many small clothing shops selling stuff manufactured in Montreal, and the myriad vintage shops, and a French language bookstore (where the kid picked out a copy of La Nausée). We stumbled into the Montreal outpost of Fluevog; the kid didn’t want to leave. I bought a tiny little silver necklace at Boutique Unicorn, the child got a fuzzy bucket hat at Ophelie Hats.

And we succumbed to tourist expérience immersive: the entirely kitschy yet exceedingly well executed sound and light show – Aura – at Notre-Dame.

Notre-Dame is lovely.

Of course, we went to the top of the mountain.

We also did a drive by of Habitat 67. (I wanted to go on a tour, but it was sold out.)

We sort of kind of accidentally ended up on the F1 track, which caused great joy for my husband.

I was amused by a sod failure.

The city has an enormous amount of construction going on, and still has evidence of manufacturing including flour mills and silos. I don't know what this even is, but I liked it.

We visited McGill which is rather enormous. 28,000 undergraduates!

And then we came home.

La fin.