Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday Five, With February Snow on the Way

We're expecting some "at times heavy" snow today -- up to 10 centimetres, and then another 5 to 10 tonight. . .  And, unfortunately, I have to make my way downtown for a tooth-cleaning appointment at the dentist's this afternoon. So glad I can do that all via Shank's Mare (my grandpa's term for walking -- anyone else ever heard this? used the term?) and public transit -- the roads are going to be a mess. . .

Anyway, a quick Friday Five before I make sure my traction-soled boots are ready.

1.  If you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen this photo, along with a few others  picturing our condo terrace garden, under a layer of snow and ice. I'm so grateful that I deliberately added some joy-in-winter plants -- the fragrant Daphne odora pictured here and the sweetly scented Sarcococca (Sweet box), and also the Dogwood shrub, Cornus sanguinea, Midwinter fire, with its brilliantly coloured stems, the peeling bark on the Physocarpus (Ninebark). Leaves unfurling on clematis and hydrangea and roses. Furry buds fattening on the magnolia. . .  There's already so much to enjoy right outside the door. . .

2. But when I head outside for any longer than a quick garden stroll, I bundle up. Here's a What I Wore to illustrate. . .
I've lost my favourite black leather gloves --- bought in Bordeaux two falls ago, the cuffs folded back to reveal leopard-printed calf-hair trim. Only two places I could have left them, and we checked back the next day, but someone else who fits a 7.5 must have guiltily warm hands these days. I've been making my cherry-red leather ones work with all outfits -- sometimes that's a stretch. But I do like them with this Ganni coat I bought on sale, end of last winter. The colour -- something  between teddybear and mustard -- is one I never used to think I could wear but always admired. And now I think it's okay on me. You can see that besides my M0851 cross-body, I'm also outfitted with a (very light, scrunches into a tiny pack, so handy when travelling) backpack -- I leave the house with it empty, come back with it full of library books, groceries, new shoes, a set of dishes. . . okay, kidding on the last two, but it's good to be prepared, right?
Also wearing my ever-practical Blundstones, which are very de rigueur around here. All the cool kids wear them ;-) But today, I'm going to need something a bit warmer. . . and with a bit higher leg coverage.

3. No photo for this one, but my son-in-law has been making some truly beautiful sourdough loaves, and he brought me some starter last weekend. I've been "feeding" it a bit nervously, and reading up on how to "build" a dough from it. I think I'm ready to give it a try -- I'll document as I go and report back, if you're at all interested. Anyone out there making a wild-yeast bread? Apparently, the longer, slower process allows the bacteria to break down the phytic acid which can cause digestive problems. I just love the taste -- and the texture! the crumb on this bread is superb!

4. If your weather is keeping you inside this weekend as well, and you don't mind a bit of Gruesome in your Netflix, we watched La Mante when we were in Italy over the holidays.  A serial-killer crime drama with an interesting twist. We were able to watch it in French, with French subtitles, so we had the excuse of "practising our language skills" -- not sure, but it's available here with English subtitles as well. Well-acted, France/Paris as setting, but yeah, lots of gruesome. . .

5. Finally, I'm really hoping to finish my sweater this weekend, although given that I have both sleeves yet to knit, that might be ambitious. You may have seen this photo of it already, on Instagram. I'm still a bit leery of the bright, of the "high contrast" of the yoke -- that is, although I love the way the colours work together, I'm not sure it might not be too much for my lower-contrast colouring. . . But the rest of the sweater is that deep, deep brown (yarnmaker's Jameson & Smith call this colour "black" -- and it's actually undyed, so this is a Black Sheep sweater!), and I'm liking the way the strong dark background balances the yoke's bright necklace. . . Hope to be able to show you the whole, even model it for you, next week.
And that's it, Five on Friday. Didn't even sneak in a whiny number about the second crown the dentist has me scheduled for, replacing one that's being undermined. . . (see what I just did there? Tricky, eh?)

Could have mentioned how much I enjoyed a sweet little memoir I finished last night -- Isabel Vincent's Dinner with Edward. I'll save that for a future post over on my Reading Blog.

But I really should say something about the fun conversation building up around my last post, the one on Dining Alone, part of a Solo Travel series. A very desultory series, I must admit -- if you're looking for something much more focused and comprehensive on travelling solo, you really want to check out Solo Traveler, a really useful site written (and curated) by two Women of a Certain Age.  Meanwhile, I'm going to respond to all your comments there, but it might take another day or two.

That's it, then. Happy Friday! And the mic is yours. . . 

49 comments:

  1. That sweater is stunning, Frances. I can imagine how striking it will be with your grey curls. If I were you, I would consider wearing it with the fab leather skirt you got a couple season ago.
    I am with you, a bread with a good "crumb" makes me very happy.
    My brain and heart are beyond flattened by the latest in Florida. Searching for something to watch this weekend to shut it all out temporarily. Olympics for me, I think. All that action on the half pipe cheers me no end. I adore the stories of the athletes that each news station seems to do. While I miss American coverage of the Olympics, I feel so lucky that I have the BBC's beyond excellent coverage to watch. It has been a balm after last week.
    Looking forward to more sour-dough tales!
    A.in London

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    1. Hmmm, I think you're right, and I'm going to try it with that skirt (and some black leather sneakers, I think) as soon as it's off the needles and blocked.
      I haven't been watching too much of the Olympics, but it's hard not too feel proud of our (Canadian) efforts at 27 medals so far. And Norway? Wow! Fewer than 5.5 million, and 37 medals!!! Gobsmacking!

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    2. Norway also usually comes first in the human development index, has one of the highest percentage of women in Parliament, and many other things. Friends from Oslo were here in Montréal for a scientific conference last year and were telling us about Oslo's impressive plans for greening the city further still.

      But even Norway has not been free of mass shootings/killings as we remember the neo-Nazi "homegrown" terrorist who killed 77 people on the island of Utoya and in Oslo, mostly teenagers and civil servants. But much rarer...

      I love the blacksheep's wool and that knitting!

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  2. The sweater looks gorgeous...you truly are a talented knitter mater!
    Shank's Mare? Never heard of that expression...watch out for the icy patches as you walk...it was not easy walking here yesterday.
    I had the same thing happen with a pair of desugner sunglasses once...and someone got a very nice pair of free sunnies...I found a $20 bill on my walk one day and kept it...looked around for anyone closeby and saw no one so I put it in my pocket!

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    1. I found a $100 bill on the ground once when we were living in Prince Rupert -- actually turned it in at the RCMP station. They chuckled a bit, and I got it back in a month or so when no one claimed it.

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    2. btw, I would never have done that for a $20, but at the time, $100 would have been a big loss for a single mom, if that's who'd lost it. More likely, one of the resource-sector workers coming in from the field for a weekend's partying in "the big city" -- unpeeling a stack from his wallet to pay the taxi. . .

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  3. Gorgeous sweater,indeed! It is a piece of art itself,no need to accessories
    I like the coat,too
    What a wonderful idea to have all those plants to cheer up the winter blues
    I'm watching the danish series Dicte and like it very much
    Scandinavian noir,but nice as well. Highly recommend if you've liked Borgen,Bridge and Killing
    We have a lot of snow and I've postponed my trip to Vienna
    Dottoressa

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    1. I loved Dicte -- can't wait for the next/last season.

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  4. Echoing the knitting awe!
    Shanks's Pony here in Scotland.
    Your Daphne photos here and IG have made me put it very firmly on my New Garden list - which I will take photos of for you but the light has been too low all winter.
    No real watching going on here. A tiny bit of Olympics each night, French news daily on TV5 Monde, plus the comfort blanket of 'Call the Midwife' on a Sunday evening.
    Would love to make sourdough but don't think I have the mental space just now to take on such a demanding child.
    Like you, more dentist to come - round 2 of root canal next week. Joy - but at the same time, thank goodness for dentists.

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    1. Are dentists covered under NHS Scotland?

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    2. lagatta à montréal: yes, dentists are part of the NHS, although there are private dentists too.

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    3. Thanks, Linda. Unfortunately, that is not the case in our otherwise generally excellent version of the NHS...

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    4. interesting, the local adaptations of an expression -- I imagine someone's traced the linguistic routes and roots. . .

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  5. I am in awe of your knitting talents. I am not going there though because my last effort at knitting a sweater went badly - so I will leave it alone and leave the knitting to you.

    I once had a sourdough starter that lived in my refrigerator for several years. I don't know what became of it. I must have neglected it at some point. Now I look forward to sourdough bread whenever I am in San Francisco - they have the best and it must have something to do with the water or the fog. So I am leaving the sourdough to San Francisco.

    Have a good weekend!

    slf

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    1. It's best to know our strengths, right? ;-) And let others develop theirs...

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  6. No knitting here , I admire your skills , but we do have Shanks's pony in northern England . I love soda bread , especially Irish soda bread but haven’t made it myself . I’m sounding lazy - but I did climb a little Scottish mountain today . It’s a favourite of ours with a wonderful view of the estuary & out to sea whilst inland there are layers of misty mountains . I didn’t plan on doing it today , too cold , but then I thought what if next time I actually can’t manage it ? So up we went & yes it was cold but what a view . Tired now but pleased with myself .
    Wendy from York

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    1. Another vote for Shank's pony.
      Soda bread is without yeast, am I right? I remember having delicious loaves of it at the breakfast table on a long-ago holiday in Ireland, visiting my uncle.
      Good for you, going out despite the cold to enjoy that view. Sounds beautiful.

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    2. Yes , it’s supposed to be the easiest of breads , but I still haven’t made it yet
      W

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  7. Yes, we travel by Shank's Mare here too...she took me on a nice long trip down the frozen river today.

    I haven't worked with sourdough but it is on my list (along with yogurt-making and ricotta cheese). I do have funny memories of jars and bowls of kombuchas all over my kitchen, maybe 25 years ago...(like little sea creatures, floating in their liquid)...

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    1. My grandpa spent quite a few years in Manitoba, so I wonder if that's where he picked up the expression.
      I never did kombucha, but there was the "friendship cake" starter to keep alive. Did do yogurt in the 70s and also had beans sprouting on the counters ;-)

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  8. Hi Frances, Linda beat me to it re. Shank's Pony in Scotland. I'd be very interested in your adventures with sourdough! It's freezing rain here right now and at regular intervals I can hear chunks of ice falling from the roof. I guess spring is on its way!

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    1. Chunks of falling ice as a sign of spring -- hope you're not offended if I prefer the green tips of bulbs poking out of the pots on the deck ;-)

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  9. Blundstone are so cool I even want a pair here in California! Am making do with 20-year old Doc Martens;).

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    1. If Blundstones suit your feet, they're the bomb! Here they're magic, because, as the ad says "They soak up water like a rock" (i.e. not at all!) so they're good in our rainy climate. My pairs tend to last about 5-10 years, while Paul wears his out in 3-5.

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  10. My mum says "shank's mare" all the time. Your sweater looks beautiful. In 2016, there was a display of traditional knitting at the Whalsay Heritage Centre. Your yoke seems similar to some of the patterns. I think I'll start watching Marseille tonight. Pro-D today was abbreviated due to the snow. It was a really interesting lecture by a psychologist on anxiety in children. I'm going to visit Solo Traveller now. Have a good week-end!

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    1. I'm so pleased to hear that expression is still being used.
      I can only imagine how wonderful that knitting display was, right in the heart of where it all started!
      We haven't got hooked on Marseille yet, despite having watched a few episodes, but I'm going to try again. Despite his horrid politics, I've long admired Dépardieu as an actor.

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  11. My Virginia mother sometimes said "shanks mare" for walking, sort of a joke, frequently at the expense of a lazy child who wanted a ride somewhere..... Too bad about the lost gloves; sometimes when I think I have lost something it rematerializes on the floor of the car or in a forgotten pocket. Doesn't sound like that is in the cards for your gloves, sadly.

    And finally, "low contrast" coloring is an interesting concept and nicely describes my current state, I'll have to think about that.

    ceci

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    1. Yes, I can see that use working -- Grandpa was usually being a bit self-deprecating -- he'd long had a car by the time I knew him, but he'd come from some seriously tough times (left in an orphanage that farmed kids out for work).
      I keep hoping that my gloves will materialize like that -- my habits are usually good enough that it's tough to believe I left them behind. But I think you're right, not in the cards.
      The high/low contrast concept is one I learned of in some Style blog or other -- definitely not mine, but makes sense.

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  12. "Shank's mare" is an expression my parents have used for walking. Haven't heard it for years now. Your wild-yeast bread sounds delicious. My brother has started some and I'm hoping to collect starter from him one day. I do love a good sourdough loaf. I'm always in admiration of skilled knitters like you.
    No snow here although a few flakes have fallen intermittently. The skies look heavy and perhaps we'll have rain. My daughter in Vancouver has texted photos of the snow dump you're experiencing. Wow!

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    1. Did you end up getting any more snow? Crazy that we got as much as we did and that it's mostly melted away now (thank goodness, because as you know, it's horrid to get 'round in when it melts and freezes and melts and freezes.

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  13. Hmmm...the internet are my comment! ...take two...

    Your sweater looks great!

    It looked rather nasty at times today, as I glanced out my 2nd floor office window. But, when I drove to Granville Island after work around 4:30ish, it had stopped...only to start again!

    I’m looking forward to your thoughts on Dinner With Edward, I really enjoyed it.

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    1. I enjoyed DWE too -- not sure I'll say much more about it, but it was a lovely little book, wasn't it?

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  14. Shanks Mare, my mother used to say that. I have not heard that for years. My husband makes sourdough bread every week. He made his own starter from fresh pineapple juice. That was quite a few years ago. You just have to remember to feed it, says I who has nothing to do with it except eat a few pieces.
    Ali



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    1. Ha! I hadn't heard of making the starter from juice -- I'll have to ask my SIL how he got his going. I was just happy enough to take some from him.

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  15. I am looking forward to follow your sourdough adventure. This winter I have really enjoyed the benefits of probiotics on my health, and sourdough is next on my list. I need to know a bit more before I start.

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    1. I'll post about the sourdough with a link to the site with the recipe and all kinds of good resources. Not sure I'm going to have good results this first time, but we'll see. The big bonus, as I understand it, with the wild yeast bread is that the bacteria break down the phytic acid that can make digestion tough.

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  16. Thanks for the Solo Traveler blog hint -- just bookmarked it. It will be useful.

    Best wishes in your sourdough endeavors. Even thinking of that endeavor terrifies me -- not because I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to succeed at it, but that I would succeed and that then I'd eat all the sourdough. In fact I am suspicious of all really good bread because, as my mother once said about really good scotch, it's a traitor!

    Ann in Missouri

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    1. Ah yes. . . I'm a bit concerned about this as well.
      A solution we've found to your mother's concern is to keep a bottle of Laphroaig around. Its heavily peaty wallop is usually enough to slow my drinking pace ;-)

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  17. So many interesting things in this post! I love that your sweater is black-sheep :-) I've never heard the term shank's mare but I am thrilled that you reincarnate your grandfather when you speak his language. Also, when I was pregnant (almost 19 years ago?!?!?) my mother bought me the most gorgeous gloves from Cole Haan and, the second time I wore them, I lost them in a cab on my way to my midwife appt. I'm not one of those people who misplaces her things. I'm very careful. I was beside myself with all of the hormones and I was afraid to tell my mother - even though I was 29 years old?!? Finally, I told her 2 years later and she thought I was insane. She couldn't believe I had mourned the loss of gloves that way. Next thing I knew, she gave me another pair - and I still have those!

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    1. I love this comment and I love your mom already. When my third daughter was Four, she was playing with her Royal Doulton Penny Bank, shaped too temptingly like a ball. She was devastated when she broke it, and I bought her another, reminding her of the careful handling it required. When she broke that one, though, I did not replace it. Perhaps had it been made of leather I might have ;-)

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  18. Also - just found this: https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/shanks-mare.html. Apparently, the phrase has been around forever!

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  19. Shank's Mare is my favourite means of transport at the time, with the wind too icy and the roads too slippery to take the bike. In German you'd say "auf Schusters Rappen" which translates literally as "by the cobbler's (black) horse".
    I very much like the colours of your sweater. I am into sock knitting myself at the moment. My sister gave me a book of sock patterns for my birthday, most of them nice, fresh, modern looking designs. I am also thinking of adapting some Sashiko designs to knitting. Can't be so complicated.

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    1. I really like this German expression -- that it brings in the cobbler, who fixes the shoes we walk those "Shank's Mare" in. . . the poor man's (black) horse, our own feet...
      I'm curious about those sock patterns now, and I'm very keen to see your adaptations of Sashiko to knitting!

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  20. My grandparents used the expression "shank's pony" meaning to walk somewhere. They lived all their lives in NW England and walked or cycled as their only means of transport. For many years Gran was a danger to herself and other road users as she wobbled along on her bike at a snail pace.I remember her as an old lady, announcing that she was "giving up cycling and just going to use shank's pony ". Funny thing is,she was about the same age as I am now ! Guess they aged younger inthose days right?

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    1. Funny, I never heard my dad use the expression, although he's from NW England (Middlesbrough) -- or perhaps I did, but I'd locked in an association with my Grandpa instead.
      So interesting to think about our grandmothers and realize they were our age. I think they did age younger (arguably harder lives, at least mine did), but also perhaps less push to keep looking young? And then I wonder how my Nine-year-old g'daughter will picture me, when she's my age. . .

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  21. Yes, I am a passionate sourdough baker, tending to my starter with lots of care (I have been using the same one for about 10 years now). Check the website thefreshloaf.com for lots of inspiration and advice from fellow bakers.
    We have also just finished La Mante, excellent but quite gruesome, as you said. Have you seen Dix pour cent (Call My Agent)? We enjoyed that a lot as well.

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    1. I try to imagine that, the constancy of using the same starter for ten years. Perhaps I'm just at the start of a long relationship ;-)
      Thanks very much for the website reference. Tomorrow will be the test for my first two loaves. . .
      Yes, we've seen two seasons of Dix pour cent -- enjoyed it very much. Looks as if there may well be a second season of La Mante -- the ending of the first left an opening, right?

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  22. My grandfather used the term "shank's mare". It is my preferred form of transportation when there is snow and ice. When the roads were treacherous and I had to go out for something in when I lived in the Hudson Valley, I would walk even though it was a windy route through a national historic site. Always made me happy though. I couldn't have made it to the dentists - as they were two towns away. One advantage to a city.

    The sweater is gorgeous. I've been slower with my knitting, and made a mistake, so I just ripped again, but only the last corner of the back this time.

    It has been so miserable in Knoxville this winter I'm considering a pair of Blundstones. I had a pair once that I mostly used around the yard and garden or when we were out traipsing around the county. They were my "barn boots" . I wore them out but then we stopped traipsing and I just made do with my tall LL Bean boots when he snow was deeper, but those didn't come to TN. I'm constantly walking the dog through rain and muck, so something has to happen, foot-protection wise.

    I maintained a wild yeast starter for many years. I grew it from wild grapes that thrived on the edges of our wooded areas. I let it die when I learned I was celiac because no one I knew wanted to fool with it. I'm thinking of someday starting another wheat-free variant. But not right away. I'll have to live through construction for some months in a kitchen-less or semi-kitchenless state starting sometime this summer. I can dream of future yeasts, and hopefully read about your adventures.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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