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.