Category Archives: Diversions

February – B

Well, the alphabet continues 🙂

No movies were watched actually, for the very good reason that I have a HUGE winter Olympics obsession.

from the CBC

We’re pretty multi-cultural in our house – well, mostly within Europe in any event. While Q and I were born in Canada, Toby and his dad were born in Great Britain, my mother-in-law is from Denmark, my maternal grandmother was born in Poland and my maternal grandfather was born in Latvia. Heck, there was even a Maltese skier this time! Also, that’s a HECK of a lot of red and white (and some purple and some blue):

There was some reading though: Bellweather Rhapsody (mostly thanks to reading a months’ old NYT book review Dear Match Book article) and also the Big Sleep – the first Philip Marlowe book by Raymond Chandler; which would have been a great movie to try and watch but such was not to be.  And a translation of Beowulf (which I wrote about a bit here).

And of course, there was some LEGO: Buckingham Palace, and Berlin and the Brick Bank! Lots more pictures will be posted here: [insert February LEGO post] but first I have to take them!

And beer! First, trying something completely new and out of my comfort zone, I bought four bottles of a barrel aged kriek beer from Big Rock brewery. And was introduced to another Brewery closer to home: Muddy York Brewing. You can read more about the beer part here.

 

 

 

Beowulf, or that time I was proven right by Anglo-Saxon poetry

One of the books I read starting with B for February was Beowulf. It was suggested by my boss. It turns out the Toronto Public Library has a bilingual edition: Anglo-Saxon to modern English. The introduction was fascinating. It set out how Seamus Heaney approached the task of translating this ages-old poem. Which lead me to some unexpected support…

One of the things I have always done that apparently drives Toby a little batty is change topics of conversation, either immediately or after a lull, by using the interjection “so.” Toby considers “so” as more a conclusion indicator word as opposed to a new topic indicator. This has bothered him for some time. 😉

What does this have to do with Beowulf? Well, Mr. Heaney writes about the voice of some “relatives of my father’s, people whom I had once described in a poem as “big voiced Scullions.” He explains they were big-voiced as everything they said came out more like a declaration as opposed to a statement. “A simple sentence such as “we cut the cord to-day” took on immense dignity when one of the Scullions spoke it.” and that was how he wanted Beowulf to sound.

The first lines read:

Usually, hwaet is translated in a literary fashion as “lo” or “hark” or “behold.” But in “Scullionspeak, the particle “so” came naturally to the rescue, because in that idiom, “so” operates as an expression which obliterates all previous discourse and narrative, and at the same time functions as an exclamation calling for immediate attention. So, “so” it was.”

Two letters. Occasional snarky remarks. All put to rest by a thousand-year-old poem.

I remember red…

When I was younger no trip to, or through, London England was complete without a trip to Fortnum & Mason. There wasn’t a lot there we could afford I would imagine BUT they still, in the 1980s at least, sold red food colouring made from cochineal. And my mom loved it and prized it above all others. I wonder if they still make it?

from the fortnum & mason website

This all came back after I stumbled across this article from the BBC: The insect that painted Europe red. Yep, a cochineal is a bug and an acid in the female is used to make a dye. Originally it was used to colour fabrics, and then paints, and eventually a “natural” food colouring. Natural yes; but still a bug!

Dinner at the Fifth – take two

Sometimes things don’t go as well as you expect. And it really did start out as a first world problem: I was the high bidder on a bunch of restaurant gift cards and experiences at a fundraising event for the National Ballet School.

One of the experiences was a dinner for four at the Fifth Grill & Terrace. I had heard such great things about the food and it turns out Toby sang at an event there once! So we invited a couple of friends to come with us at the end of October last year. And after a welcoming start, nothing went well.

When we got there we were asked for any allergies and how hungry we were. We all replied enthusiastically! We were also asked whether we wanted just a “meat” menu or just a “seafood” menu or a mixture of both. Three of the four of us said a mixture and one said meat. It was a fairly involved conversation.

The first dish was lobster bisque. It was very nice. But we had no idea what it was. Two servers came, put the bowls down and walked away. The same happened with the salad. No description, we had to wave someone over.

Then I asked what beers there were and had to explain to the server that “Granville Island” was a brewery that made several beers and he kept saying the beer was called “Granville Island.” I asked him to go get it for me. You get the idea.

So I emailed the restaurant a couple of days later and set out everything and, after a bunch of emails back and forth, we were invited back to try again. We were all a little nervous but game to give the Fifth another chance. And we are so glad we did!

We went back the other night and the entire evening was amazing; everything you’d expect a chef’s tasting menu to be! The food was fantastic – from a delightful amuse-bouche to that wonderful lobster bisque to an amazing steak tartare with a fried quail egg and possibly the best beef cheek I’ve ever had. And, amazingly, they also added wines to each course for us and accommodated my red-wine aversion with aplomb. In fact I really need to figure out which white Burgundy they gave us. I _need_ that wine.

The service was wonderful, the room is beautiful and the food incredible. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for a special evening out.

“A” is for… January?

I’m almost 45 years old and there are a few things I know about myself with absolute certainty:

  • I prefer my coffee black.
  • I love Toby and Q <3

My guys

Where was I? Oh right, things I am sure of:

  • I like hoppy beer. I’m not fond of stouts.
  • Whisky is good. So is bacon.
  • I work best with a plan – no matter how weird or loosey goosey.

Sometime in December it occurred to me what my next “plan” would be – I’d follow the alphabet! So January = A, February = B, March = C and so on. And yes, I know it’s weird. And January has been fun.

I had somehow got it in my head to read All the President’s Men. That was amazing. And my big takeaway was basically plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! I also got the movie but as of today (January 31 no less) I still haven’t watched it. Maybe on the weekend.

I watched Apocalypse Now. I don’t remember watching it before and it’s one of the “greatest movies ever” according to a bunch of lists so I watched it. Weird doesn’t begin to cut it. And the making of it was possibly even weirder! (grave robbing, an overweight Brando, a drunk Sheen…)

Toby also got me to finally watch The Accountant, which a friend described as a “total nerdgasm with eye candy” lol. And my big lesson from this is that I should listen to Toby more often when he says he has a movie I might like (the last one was John Wick!) Violence, math and a mystery! Woohoo!

One of our new friends Andy, who himself could be an A for January but for the fact that we met on Christmas Eve, suggested this awesome song to listen to: Flatbush Waltz – by another Andy (Statman).

And I thought I was done…I was hoping to squeeze in a quick Agatha Christie read (And Then There Were None if you’re curious) but none of the local library branches had it in. Instead I found The Alienist. I’m only about 80 pages in so there’s no way I’m finishing it in January but so far it’s awesome. I had no idea it was also a new show. Hmmm It’s going to have to wait! I’m out of time.

Oh and of course there was LEGO: at a stretch the Apollo Saturn V (as opposed to having to wait until July 2019)

there’s a quarter in there for scale

What’s next? Why B of course. My boss suggested Beowulf. And it turns out the Toronto Public Library has an English-to-English translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic! And a couple of friends have suggested movies: Brave and Brigadoon, neither of which I’ve seen so I’m starting there. Let me know if you have any other ideas!