Happy we are that the stove top and basement fireplace both run on natural gas. We still have electricity but if and when we don't it'll be days and days of grilled cheese then porridge, grilled cheese then porridge. We can hold out on that for a week. Week two? Beans on rice? The back step will be our freezer, the cold room under the front step our fridge. For suburbanites, we have it good - or at least the house was built in '64 with an awareness of nature. Wine is expected to still operate in an extended blackout. As with banjos. Very Christmassy so far... sitting here early on a Saturday evening, four days before the day. Best image of the first day of the ice storm? Street skating.
I made a quick trip to the Library and Archives of Canada as part of researching the book on Ontario beer history. Among the most interesting things seen was all the white with black veined marble throughout the place. That's the foyer up there. The Wellington Street building down the road from Parliament and the Supreme Court has an odd combination of the white marble, aged pine and brass fittings. It feels like the Earth HQ might have looked like on Space:1999. Apparently I failed to notice the Henry Moore down to my right when I took the picture.
I finally figured out how to pronounce the name of the capital city of New York state. I knew "Ahhhlbany" was wrong but could not figure out "Awlbany" until I heard it was called "Smallbany" too. So it rhymes with small. There you go. We were there for an Albany Ale Project event at the Albany Institute of History and Art. It was a great event which I will likely write about over at the beer blog but wanted to note a few things for now about the travel aspects of the trip.
First, as illustrated, we had a great brunch at the Gateway Diner handy to the simply majestic Oliver's Beverage. The place was big for a diner but the spaces were broken up so that you had a sense in each part of it that you were in a busy family diner. Service was fast and friendly. The coffee was good. I like having New York strip steak while in the Empire State. This was my first one with eggs. Poached. One must be careful these days.
The diner was not that far from where we were staying, the CrestHill Suites on outer Washington near the State Campus. We picked this up for 91 bucks on Hotwire. Clean. Generous room with a real kitchen that defied the use of nook. Armchair and sofa. Quite even if near the highway. We had room 312. We will book again. Best thing was the laundry basket in the bathroom. A $1.79 item that meant we did not have to leave damp used towels on the floor and, presumably, allowed the staff to clean up with a little more dignity than getting down on all fours to recover the last facecloth from under the sink. A simple smart thing that earned our respect.
Last, after the event three couples went for a Mexican dinner before heading for beers at the Lionheart Pub closer to downtown. The restaurant, El Mariachi, sits across the street from the Institute. Its one of those spots you go to in the States that reminds you that Canadians thing BBQ is a wiener on the hibachi. I won't go into much detail except that supper for six was only a bit over $80 and that I had something that really rearranged my thoughts about Mexican food - chicken with pumpkin seed sauce. Fabulous. I am now going to make pumpkin seed sauce and pour it over everything. Generous portions. Great service and cozy small spaces.
So, as you can see, I have thought about something I want to write about in this space other than gardening. I mean I could write how the fence blew down on Friday but... really?
Ry was nice enough to leave a comment asking why it has gone so quiet here. Why has the blogging gone so cold? Well, I have to admit that the beer blog is getting all the focus, isn't it. So, I am blogging. Plus, I am co-authoring three books with three different beer writers, a history of Ontario, a history of Albany NY as well as a fantasy dialogue on the state of beer culture. Two of them are actually under real publishing contracts. So, I am writing a lot.
On top of that, politics has gotten so dull, so rote. Factionalism in US politics has led to stagnation more than roadblock and we are watching someone commit suicide - just not sure who yet. In Canada, the PM is sleepwalking through the slow disintegration of his career. The opposition is a bit dull even with Grit hints of some vital signs. Beyond politics, has anything caught my attention in broader culture? Pope's an improvement. Economy's better but not roaring. No really better bands, food products or computing options. I am writing this on an iPad mini. Does that count?
Maybe it's the relaxed state of affairs in life that have quieten end my mind. Fewer responsibilities are in front of me. My favourite teams are playing well. More time for SCTV DVDs in the den or poking around the garden. No frost yet even though we are well into October. I go to bed early on Friday nights even, up early enough for the fishing shows and the farm report.
What has become of me?
So, there are beans. A patch of soldier beans from Johnny's seeds that should flower and pod, then fade and die before any are picked. Dried beans for winter to be slow baked with molasses and bacon. Bombastic bowel-tastic beans waiting for an evening with Hockey Night in Canada as a blizzard howls outside. The bok choi and mustards have flowered with the advent of heat. The lettuces are still coming on with new sowings. Grapes are looking very good as is the tower of potatoes. There are hundreds of sugar snap pea pods waiting to be picked now. The lad ate a raspberry from his own property today.
More seeds will be planted before work this week. Tender carrots for September and October need to get in the ground now. You mail order seeds in February to plan for spring. You sow seeds in July planning for autumn. It's never about now.
Rabbits. I have seen them around the raised beds out front in the mornings when I head to work. But I had no idea that it had come to this. Beet eating. Frigging cheater pants rabbits are eating my beets and swiss card even if they are leaving the mustard greens, spinach and basil. Thing is... I like beets. Which is, of course why I planted them in the first place. For my eating, not theirs.
Out back there are parsnips, carrots, bok choi, onions, leeks, grapes, radishes, lettuce, peas and the amazing tower of potatoes. A chipmunk is eating the sunflowers but I feel less offended by that. I don't eat sunflowers or chipmunks. And I am not allowed to trap the rabbits to eat them. It is an unfair deal. The tower of spuds is the year's biggest innovation. Multilayer rings of seed potatoes on the outside of the tower, compost rich soil in the core and layered between the rings. They grow out the top and through the sides of the mesh. We'll see what happens.
One of my favorite things to do is to not do something. Last year, I planted parsnips, onions and carrots in the square of soil by the front door. The carrots got dug up in early October and the onions were lifted a month earlier. But five parsnips were left in the ground all winter. Where they apparently grew. I had to dig around each root down around a foot and pull on the damn things. I left at least a quarter inch width of each in the ground. They came out with a snap.
So, this was dessert. We made a stack of pizzas tonight. This was the last one. I even have the blister on the back of my wrist where I brushed the hot oven wall to prove it. But apple pizza? Thirty years ago in the north end of Halifax, Nova Scotia there was Pizzeria Tomaso with Mr. Tomaso still holding sway before he sold the business to a local family who promised to keep up his standards, brought from Sicily. It was only open Thursdays and Fridays from 4 to 7 pm. He was about 80 and had 15 high school kids working behind him. I remember going in once and among the stacks and stacks of pizzas seeing, among those destined for law firms head offices and nearby neighbourhood families, boxes marked "the Cabinet" meaning the five or six extra larges were destined for the cabinet room of the government of the province. I remember asking for anchovies on my 'za and he came past the clerk taking the order to slap my face saying "You want anchovies? You a good boy." He used to cook pizzas 90% of the way and offer then tax free as "cook at home" pizzas because he was really mad that there was tax on pizzas. The CBC Halifax evening TV news was presented live from his pizzeria counter once a year when Frank Cameron and Doug Saunders hosted the show in the '70s and early 80's. He used to give away wine when you were waiting for your order because he was so mad that he was not allowed to sell it. And they still make an apple pizza.
The Great Lakes from space earlier today. Look at all that good cheddar.