Okay, I know it's Ramadan. (Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim Gentle Readers, which I also wished by my Muslim friends while resisting the temptation to loudly and visibly eat and drink in front of them.) Apparently it's also Shavuot (shows just how bad I am at being a Jew that I didn't know it until I got into the hospital today.) I'm not sure what Shavuot celebrates* but it seems that part of it is a dietary stricture that all the coffee shops be closed. What-The-Heck? Coffee is kosher. I'm pretty sure that there is nothing in the Torah that says "Thou Shalt Not Drink Coffee on This Day." Harrumph. (My Resident was also in caffeine withdrawal and went across the street to that Great Canadian Institution and The Temple-Of-Bad-Coffee-and-Donuts, Tim Horton's. I don't like Timmies? I guess I'm also a bad Canuck).
*That was for dramatic effect. I know perfectly well that it celebrates being given the Torah, which is to say the original concept of codified law.
Mostly secular traditions for us today. I'm off work, not because of any religious beliefs, but it is a statutory holiday and my office building is closed. Unfortunately, I forgot to point out to my alarm clock (a.k.a. phone app) that I wasn't going to work today, so it went off at the usual time. I won't have slept much past that anyhow, but a little. Hedgefund woke up and told me she wanted to go out. That's odd, but no point in discouraging it. I had wanted coissant for breakfast, so a walk to the Market was in order. Question: how long does it take one to walk 3 blocks and back? Answer: 5-minutes, perhaps 10, or more likely just over an hour-and-a-half, if your legs are 15" long, you're pushing your toutou in a toy stroller, and you stop to check out cats and rocks and leaves. We left Nom and Wallstreet barely waking. Hedgefund is generally not a good eater (one of my worries), but she does seem to eat when we are out strolling. She pushed her toutou, I slipped food into her mouth every few steps. When we were at the Market, she decided she wanted to sit down and eat, so got to feed her a bit more (and drink my cappuccino) before we returned home with the remaining croissant, cheese, ham, and a blueberry danish sans blueberries (she rather likes sugar-coated blueberries).
Later, we met Nom's family at a farm for a cabane à sucre (sugar shack). Due to Canadian demographics (smallish population with a huge amount of real estate), less than half-hour drive out of Montreal, which is a good-sized city, one is in farmland. (I think there are even still a few farms on Montreal island itself.) Quebec is the world's greatest producer of maple syrup, so during the few weeks when the maple sap runs, it's traditional to go out to a maple tree farm, and scarf down a massive breakfast with everything cooked with maple syrup. For starters there was cole slaw (not really very Quebec), split pea soup (very Quebec), beets (?) and bread with creton. The main course was smoked ham, regular ham, baked beans, omlettes, roast potatos, maple-smoked bacon, oreilles de criss (bacon2, basically fried pork fat), saussages in syrup. For dessert were various fried dough dripping in maple syrup, chocolate cake, and an extra dose of Lipitor. Later was a horse-drawn ride around the maple plantation, and then some very stuffed people headed back for home.
On the more positive, spiritual side of things, "Happy St. Patrick's Day." (Yeah, the day was yesterday, and the parade is tomorrow, so I'm splitting the difference.) The most important part of the day (yesterday, the actual day) for me, beyond my being pseudo-Irish, is that is the anniversary (5th anniversary this year) of when I met that wonderful woman who is now my wife-and-mother-of-my-children. (Yes, Nom, for those of you not keeping track.) We'd "met" and dialoged on line for weeks before that, but as ravensron (and other lesser intellects) frequently points out, you haven't really met anyone until you've bet them IRL. Spekaing of the kids, they are adorable and all the other adjectives that doting parents say, and you're all probably tired of reading, even if entirely true in this case.
At the hospital the other day, someone was selling candy to help raise money for her son's high school something-or-other. I bought a box of chocolate mints (or minty chocolates, if you prefer). In my mind, that goes well with St. Paddy's Day. When I lived in Portsmouth NH, at one point I lived over a bakery. I was living with an exotic older woman musician, in one of the few true urban lofts in that small but lovely city. I forget the name of the bakery; it's not there now, although Ceres Bakery, my other favorite from that era, is still there. Anyhow, said bakery would do Leprechaun Brownies every year for 1-2 weeks leading up to St. P's Day. I adored them, often had one every day. After I'd moved up to Montreal, I was doing the long-distance relationship thing with the lovely lady for over a year. (That worked out as well as most long-distance relationships work. In the end, just as well, because (see 2nd paragraph) I'm now married to Nom.) I was down in Portsmouth the weekend before St. P's and decided to buy a whole tray of Leprachaun Brownies to bring back with me. I ended up scarfing down the entire tray in the course of 2 days, and then couldn't abide the taste of chocolate mint for over a decade. (No residual objection to exotic women, or even older ones, although Nom is in fact, much younger than I am.)
A conspiracy to taste scotch! Had the latest instalment of my twice yearly scotch tasting at the new house. Unfinished and unmovedinto rather than truly abandoned. Was putting it off from the usual moreorless solstice event because wanted to do it by firelight, but couldn't manage that one. (Going to be gas fireplaces, but still not connected. Gas utility blames the plumber, plumber blames the gas utility.)
People brought chairs (tables courtesy of its being a construction site), munchies, and of course scotch. The tradition for the winter solstice event is to bring partly empty bottles to kill off with the dying of the year. (You have your year-end symbolism, I have mine.) Not strict about this, fresh bottles are accepted too. Since missed the (approximate) solstice, went with (approximate) mid-winter day. (Most ppl take that to mean the same thing as solstice, but I use it more literally as being the middle of winter: half way between the solstice and equinox.) Also felt the menfolk needed something to help recover from the stress of Valentine's Day.
Regardless of the date and source of illumination, a good and inebriated time was had by all. Nice munchies, interesting environment, wonderful scotch, splendid company. The surprise star was Amrut, a single malt made in India.
do dheagh shlàinte
Recently have the house as an excuse. "Hey, I bought you a house this year…" I'm wondering how much longer/how many holidays I can use that one. Is it a certain time period? A certain number of holidays? One holiday per room? One month per xxx square foot? There must be some guideline. I'd write to Miss Manners, but being a woman, she'd just tell me to suck it up.
These, in the day when heaven was falling
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their military calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.
Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.
Now that I'm a family man, I don't care as much, and am more inclined to celebrate those more traditional holidays, whose celebrations are more family-oriented.
The day does have a certain significance for me, in that it is the anniversary of the day I met Nom ("meeting" on line/emailing doesn't count), so it's functionally our anniversary. We don't do much to outwardly to celebrate it as such, but we do celebrate it in our hearts.
Last night, went out to dinner w/ Nom’s family (so me, her bro, & her dad were all “fathers” being feted). Went to Moishe’s, which is an old, established steakhouse, where some of the waiters have been there since 1920. On some level, I’m not all that excited about steak anymore, my tastes have evolved, but Moishe’s is great for the atmosphere of old style steak house. Think Manny Wolfe’s. Dad would have loved it in his younger days. We supposed to have gone out for brunch today, but didn’t sleep well (not due to Hedgefund, just one of those nights), then ended up sleeping late to catch up. Then Hedgefund had a fuss attack, followed by other baby-stuff, and then we didn’t feel like going out, so just had bread and cheese and jam and taramasalata and fruit. Frankly, it was a fine brunch. Have desperate need of food shopping tomorrow.
Back to the salt mines tomorrow.
Bought Nom flowers and took her out to brunch. It's her first Mothers Day as a mother and she deserves all the honour due. I was a bit miffed, after all, it's not Girlfriends Day, it's Mothers Day, and although she is a mother, she is not my mother. It will be okay in the end though. I'm keeping all the receipts for things like this, and handing Hedgefund the bill when she turns 18.
Just kidding about this, of course. Hedgefund actually did arrange for, and pay for everything, putting it on her credit card. I just did the legwork, what with her not being able to walk yet.
*Recently realized that my Autocorrect is Canadian, since it adds the extra "u" to words like "honor."
Easter for Christians
Passover for Jews
Playoffs for Hockey*
Got invited to a game yesterday. I’m not a sports fan. At most, I can tell the difference between certain games by their speed, action, and accouterments:
Hockey is the fast-moving one with skates and sticks
Soccer is the one with all the running but no scoring ever happens
Cricket is the slow-paced one where nothing ever happens
Anyhow, every year or so, someone invites me. Usually a pharmaceutical company or other entity with whom I do business. I enjoy it. Have only a minimal idea of the rules and often not much more idea what is happening, but it’s fun. Yesterday was courtesy of my accountant; his firm has a couple of season tickets, and I was invited to game three of the quarterfinals. We were in the first row, right behind the glass. It’s some sort of shatterproof clear plastic. I know it’s shatterproof, what with its not having shattered when a puck hit right in front of us. Or a stick. Or someone’s face. The Habs** scored a goal in the first 30 seconds, and went on to win 3:2. Both teams played hard and well, throwing themselves into the game (and in one case into the net). Might have to go more often, or at least buy a Canadians hat or shirt for when I do go.
*This is Canada. It’s our national religion, especially in Montreal. Many people think it’s just our national sport, but that’s not true. We have 2 official national sports: lacrosse (really) and fighting about languages.
** The Montreal Canadians, a.k.a Les Habitants or Les Habs, a.k.a. Nos Glorieux.
Actually, it was a coincidence that we met on St. Patrick's Day, but it seemed to have worked. Fast forward 2 years, and baby makes three. In honor of both events (our meeting and St. P's Day), we were going to have sushi. Little known fact is that sushi was originally peddled through the streets broad and narrow by Molly Malone. However, what with her having died of a fever, and no one could save her, neither Molly nor her sushi were to be found (and besides, Nom decided she wasn't in the mood). So instead, I made some Irish Stew for dinner. (With Guiness, you ask? Oy, such a question. Of course with Guiness.)
Anyhow, we wore green clothing, ate the stew, and toasted the day. Sláinte!
To day is Pi Day - 3.14 (writing the date US fashion).
Next year, to this very minute, will be an epic Pi Day that will happen only once/century. (But I'll likely forget by next year, so posting now) Why? Because it will be (again, numbering American fashion): 3/14/15 at 9:26:53:
Even if not quite epic right now, it is still Pi Day, so I hope yours is happy and full of yummy. (We now return to our regularly scheduled gushing.)
Jan - Burn's night
Feb - Hallowe'en
Mar - St. Paddy's Day
Apr - Passover and/or Easter
May - not sure, but Celtic spring with maypole?
Jun - St. Jean Baptiste
Jul - US Independence Day/Canada Day
Aug - not sure
Sep - not sure, but dang its great weather in Montreal
Oct - Samhain
Nov - US Thanksgiving?
Dec - Christmas, Hannukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice
Did do one traditional holiday thing. Nom and I went to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve. It's a Jewish tradition. Not the religious Jews who observe Kosher dietary laws (there are a few Kosher Chinese restaurants around, but they're generally pretty bad), but the secular ones, the ones who regard Jewish as an ethno-cultural group. There is a big arguement whether "Jewish" is a religion or ethnic group(s), but in fact, by ancient Jewish law, it is a matter of being born into the tribe (via the maternal line), which makes it tribal/ethnic. (Actually several ethno-cultural subgroups, which is a wayyyy long discussion. Like any group, it has divided and subdivided over time, and since Jews have been at the business of self-identy longer than anyone else in the world, we've managed to sub-divide more, despite having very few of us around.) Anyhow, there is this Chinese-restaurant-on-Christmas-Eve cultural thing. I wasn't aware of it growing up, only got introduced to the idea since moving to Montreal, but have since realized it is widespread in N. America.
( Documentation )
Nom always enjoys partaking of my culture (even if I don't really care), so off to Peking Garden we went. When we walked in, noticed there were 2 tables of Asians and 19 of Jews (when we sat down, made that 2-1/2 and 19-1/2 tables of each). It was the end of the evening, the food was on its last legs (in fact sent back 2 dishes), but the tradition had been observed. Tradition....tradition! (cue "Fiddler on the Roof").
Christmas Day proper, we did have a big family midday dinner. Sort of. Her cousin was in town from Toronto (ptui), and that side of the family had a get-together at a Chinese buffet. Not sure why Chinese and not Vietnamese. Maybe there just aren't any VN buffets, or maybe they figure they eat VN every day at home, so want to do something different. Was really more of a Chinese-and-western-with-a-little-sushi-
Today is Boxing Day in these parts. Might further observe (local) tradition by going shopping in over-crowded stores, or more likely observe (my) custom of hiding in the house and ignoring it until it is all over.
Long story short, me, Mr. "I'm-the-only-doctor-in-Canada-who-runs-
We were very tired, but then had a good office Holiday Luncheon. Joyeuse Fetes Tout Le Monde.
*Was at Nom's Obstetrician yesterday. We had the last appointment of the day. She said she had a patient call up at 2 PM, demanding to be squeezed in that afternoon to discuss contraception. Patient was irate b/c couldn't be accommodated and threatened to report her to the medical board. 'Yeah, honey, holiday parties coming up and you have an emergency need for contraception.'
** Some mix-up as to who was supposed to be on-call. Not me, but patient needed to be seen for possible auto-immune blistering disease, and I was available.