Lox and keys

It turns out that at a point, you hit a wall with smoked salmon.

Let me elaborate. The morning after Saturday’s wedding (traditionally known as both Sunday Morning, and “easy like”), there was an arranged brunch at a nearby hotel. It was fantastic, and interesting. People who we’d previously seen at the wedding were visible in the light of day. That same assortment of characters, who had no other reason to ever be in the same room, filled a hotel banquet room. Naturally, for a hotel banquet. There were poached eggs with hollandaise, salads, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, bagels, fruit, pastries and, as mentioned, smoked salmon. Given the quantities of alcohol consumed the night prior, everyone was in mildly rough shape, and eager for a big feed. Having had virtually no appetite for the past few days due to sickness, I was in an ideal situation. I piled my plate high with meats and bread, packing my stomach like an apocalypse prepper before Y2K. While many cradled their heads in their hands, I bobbed up and down in my seat, happily chewing on animal, vegetable and dough based foods alike.

We had a five plus hour drive ahead of us post brunch. Our car was all packed up, we were going straight from the open buffet to the open road. I saw my friend/our driver lathering up a bagel with cream cheese. I thought, as is her style, that she was prepping a road meal. It made so much sense. We were at a buffet with gratuitous quantities of food. There was no way that they were in any danger of running out. Why not take some of the ample vittles on offer and make a lunch for the trip? When you thought hard about it, it was frankly wasteful and villainous to do anything but. I would do my solemn, heroic duty and prepare something to eat later. At the same time, I was gonna be subtle, low key and potentially surreptitious about it. For kicks, y’know?

I grabbed two bagel halves, a sachet of cream cheese and a stack of smoked salmon, capers & red onion. If I was to hazard a guess at how tall that salmon stood? Probably around five centimetres high stacked loosely. It might not have been a literal tonne, but it looked like one. I spread the sachet of cream cheese thickly, making sure every inch of each bagel face was covered. I layered the salmon, one sheet at a time. I wanted a tight operation, with a maximised salmon per bite ratio in place. I think I broke the scale. I also tossed two chocolate chip cookies into my lunch bag for a little treat. I wrapped the bagel in two napkins, and stowed it away in a plastic bag that I kept at the side of the table. 20 minutes later, the hotel brought out styrofoam containers for people to take home food. The food had all been paid for, and it was a common occurrence to offer leftovers in cases such as these. Clearly, my heroic and not at all self-interest based plan was nothing out of the ordinary.

We brunched around 11am. I think I finally got hungry just before 6pm. That’s how much I ate at brunch. I unwrapped the bagel and was hit with a salty scent. The bagel had heft, and the normally thin blanket of smoked salmon was instead a virtual steak. It was thick and substantial, having morphed into a solid brick. I took a bite and stopped for a second. I reeled. Amassed in such a quantity, it tasted like biting into pure brine. My body bristled. It’s not like the salmon wasn’t tasty, but holy hell it was intense. I think there’s a reason why it’s treated like a delicacy, because it’s meant to be delicately balanced. When it resembles a burger, there’s nothing delicate or balanced about smoked salmon. It’s an overpowering wall of taste. No room for nuance, it was like being slapped over the tongue with a whole fish. I powered through the entire sandwich, and I believe that my heart is now encased in a salty prison, preserved against the ravages of the elements. It’s what they call a “Love Lox-down”. My life has been divided into two periods, pre and post bagel. If I hear a word against my actions, I’ll decry it as a schmear campaign and deny everything. In my new life I’m emboldened an unrepentant. Born again under a pillar of salt. I am irrevocably changed, and the salmon is to blame.

I mean, mostly I’m to blame, but that doesn’t fit in with my new unrepentant personality, so the finger points to the salmon.

Something something tying the snot

Forgive me if this is somehow less coherent than usual.

Whatever sickness I’m down with is kicking my ass. At the very least it’s deeply inhibiting my ability to sleep. Over the past few days, every few hours while in bed I’ll wake for some indeterminate amount of time. Always it feels like hours slip away. I’ll roll over, turn to my back, rotate my head, then turn the whole way ad infinitum. Despite not having had strenuous activity afoot, my brain feels messy. You know those old scrambled egg brain on drug PSAs? It’s like that, but someone has wedged a big block of cheese into the middle and it’s slowly dissipating through my mind. I think they call that melting, and I certainly feel like I am. With another hour left before my alarm went off, I figured I’d be better to get up and take writing out of the way for today. It sucks, I haven’t had coffee for the past three days, and I’d hoped it’d aid my sleep. Not so, apparently. I can’t tell if I’d feel more or less strung out if I’d been drinking it.

I’m gonna be in a car for five to six hours today. Will I perhaps manage to car sleep? Cram my body full of meds and conk out? Here’s hoping. We’re driving to Montreal, which seems like a shitty city to be sick in. Firstly, it’s bound to be snowy. Secondly, Montreal has all the best things to see, experience and eat. Thirdly, I’m going there for a wedding, and who wants to be sick at a wedding? Not this guy, that’s for sure. I’m there to eat, drink, and probably cry once or twice. While it’s true that being sick does not explicitly prevent any of these activities, I’d prefer not to leak mucus while shedding tears. There’s graceful wedding crying, and there’s whatever shit show I’m likely to be.

I also feel incredibly unprepared. I shouldn’t. We’re going to Montreal, it’s not a different country or anything. I shop in the same currency, there’s nothing fancy I need to enable for my phone, I don’t need a visa or even a passport. We have the Air BnB all booked, and it’s close to the venue. My bag is packed, but yet again I feel like there’s something that isn’t. I’ve got my clothes, still need to fold my dress shirt. I packed toiletries, my meds are ready to roll, I have comfy clothes for the drive. I could do well to put together some snacks for the trip. We have an abundant pile on the kitchen table. We also have things in the fridge I want to eat before they go off. I guess that means cutting that big chunk of ham into more tactile fry shaped strips. Do I need to shave? If so, it’d be so much quicker at home rather than at the Air BnB. Is that something I need to factor into my morning? Do I need to download some podcasts to zone out to in the back seat?

I think what I need is breakfast, to at least put myself into a place where I can make decisions. Oatmeal here I come!

Mr Peanut is dead and we’re all doomed

We looked at a new rental today.

I already hate the search. Not because of anything that was particularly unpleasant at this place. More that I can see the path stretching onwards, and it’s full of disappointment and near misses. Also potentially finding great homes and being beaten out by others. It’s not easy using our current abode as a measuring stick. While it ain’t the fanciest house in the world, it’s on street level, it has two spacious bedrooms with doors that close, a kitchen with lots of storage space, and on onsite washer/dryer. Utilities are included and it’s in a great area for transit and other amenities. It’s close to a bunch of our friends, which is neat.

Today’s place was a basement. That’s not a dealbreaker, and as far as basements go this one had a lot of natural light. The ceilings, while not terribly high, weren’t as cramped as I imagine some basements are. For either of us, they’d be fine. Taller friends would maybe have to duck under some parts. The kitchen wasn’t huge, at least as far as counter space goes. We’d probably need to put some more storage around, whether shelves or something of the like. Fortunately, there probably would be space for it. There were some fun nooks and crannies I’m sure we could turn into useful features. Potentially some places for our cat to explore rather than getting bored as she does in our current home. There was even an alcove that’d fit my computer without having to take up another room. There were two bedrooms, one slightly larger than the other. Tons of closet space. They weren’t tall closets, but very wide. There likely wouldn’t be enough room in the master for our bed plus a dresser each as we currently have. That’s not a hard boundary, it’d mean we’d just need to get creative about using the closets. Maybe even split stuff between the two bedrooms. The neighbourhood was nice. Beautiful houses and close enough to amenities. It’d probably chop about ten minutes off my ride to work, which is very much not nothing. Still close to our favourite bus route and VERY close to two main East/West streets.

One big issue, the floors were terribly uneven. Whether they’d been warped in the past, or just poorly put together was up for question. There was a noticeable drop from one side of the kitchen to the other. As far as the bedrooms went, it’d be slightly awkward to have the bed on an uneven surface. We’d probably adjust with little cardboard bits or something, but certainly not ideal. The landlord showed us around, and she was very nice. She’d had the place for a while and told us about the other tenants. All of a similar age, professionals in their 30s. They travelled a lot, so they often weren’t home. The landlord herself did not live on-site. There was a washer/dryer in the house, but it was coin operated. I’m sure we’ve just been spoiled with our current place. Still, $5 to do a cycle does seem like a lot.

The backyard was gorgeous. It seemed to go on and on. The main floor neighbours had a lovely set up that I’m sure is fantastic in the summer. Double doors that opened up to a wooden ramp, which extended to an elevated wooden platform. They had a cluster of patio furniture underneath tarps. I bet it all comes out great. The neighbours had play equipment in their yard, so they’re either a family with young kids or they’re adults who are our kind of people. There was a tiny shed at the back of the property, which the landlord said we’d be welcome to use, but ultimately not a lot of space for storing a bike. So maybe that’d mean locking them to the railings on the front deck? Not ideal, but once again, not a dealbreaker.

Pros and cons all the way down. It’s the first place we’ve seen, so it’s too soon to have a firm view. We have just over two months, so it’s not a race either.

Still, it’s not too soon for me to hate all of this.

Sweater weather

Well I feel like wet garbage.

I don’t know what exactly has me down, but I feel cold and flu-esque. My skin is ultra sensitive, my muscles ache, I’m mega congested. I spent most of last night in bed just tossing and turning around. It felt like purgatory. I’d turn one way, settle in, then feel uncomfortable and turn the other way. I don’t know how much sleep I actually got, but I imagine it was in the realms of 4-5 hours if even. According to this article I read yesterday, that ain’t enough. The article says eight hours or bust, basically. That while we think we’re doing fine on fewer, we ain’t. That the cumulative effect of losing an hour daily can be tantamount to feeling drunk. Maybe 2020 is the year I finally tackle my dislike of slumber. Much as I don’t want to be sleeping that much, if it’s the healthy and responsible choice, I’m getting too old not to make those. It only gets worse from here on out, and the undesirable task of mitigating that falls to me. Gross. Is that what growing old is all about?

I’m honestly kind of gutted to be missing work today. It’s my first sick day as an independent contractor. Without paid sick leave, there’s a very real cost to being sick. I’m impressed that this is the first time since I started in September that I’ve had to stay home. Still, I could use the funds. We’re going to Montreal over the weekend for a wedding. So yes, money could be handy (as if it’s ever not), but I think it’s more important to take the time and heal up, rather than potentially ruining a trip. I’ve got a few days to right myself, or at least to get to a place where meds can do the heavy lifting. It’s gonna be cold and snowy no doubt. Montreal in January tends to be. Last year when we walked down the road in Montreal, cars were entirely covered by snow. It was nuts, and felt like we’d strolled through a blizzard. If I don’t get healthy soon, I really will be under the weather. Pun 1000% intended.

I’m actually pretty excited for this trip. I love weddings, and while I don’t know this couple super well, I do know them as abundantly loving, creative people. I’m sure it’s gonna be a fantastic ceremony, but moreso it’s gonna be a great crowd to spend time with. As far as I understand, there are a few group activities, and the wedding itself has involved a lot of communal work. The bridal party is quite extensive and close-knit. My girlfriend is part of it. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve cooked up, and the special touches that the ceremony will exhibit.

Right now though, I’m looking forward to kicking this flu to the curb.

Good news if you wanted to live in an escape room

I have nothing significant to say, and I feel more than borderline sick, so why not write?

I feel conflicted writing about shows I’ve done Described Video for. Most of them have yet to air, so that seems tantamount to spoilers? I don’t know that anyone would care, but something about it still seems iffy. For the first time in so very long, I really like my job. If there was any way my behaviour could lead to losing it, that’d be good behaviour to avoid. That said, I was watching a show last night where two characters wanted to have sex but OH NO, they were out of condoms. They had a chat about whether or not they had to use them, because she was on birth control. She was like “well, how about we both get tested, and try this again tomorrow night?” It read as if there was some causality implied. They’d get the tests, and if they were both STI free, they’d have sex sans condoms. Have these writers ever had a check up? What kind of place do they go where they’re getting instant answers? Every time I’ve had a sexual health check up they’ve been like “here, pee in this plastic container and if you never hear from us again, you’re all good.” It’s not the biggest issue in the world, but it also seems a little odd that nobody in the writer’s room would speak up. It’s great they’re encouraging check ups, but it would’ve been nice to handle those little details. I mean, look, I’m not asking for them to do a detailed scene where these characters sideline the plot to get check ups. It wasn’t even a big plot point. I dunno, just felt lazy. I’m sure very few viewers even batted an eye.

In other news, the Ford government is back on its bullshit. For those too lazy to click, they’re essentially trying to bring in changes allowing developers to hire their own building inspectors. I can’t imagine a world where this is a good idea. I’m not gonna pull any Chicken Little rhetoric here, but I get the sense that this would lead to a ton of rushed jobs, where safety concerns went largely ignored. The chances of developers hiring inspectors who were fully impartial, and held building codes and standards with the respect they deserve, seem incredibly low. Like most of the Ford government’s policies, it seems the type that favours those with money at the expense of those without. The rich folks sure aren’t gonna have to live in these potentially unsafe hovels. They’re not gonna be so desperate that they’ll opt for subpar accommodations. If the province is SO worried about the abundance of inspections required and the lack of inspectors, why not pump money into hiring more inspectors? There are already institutions that perform these exact jobs, and it seems a ton easier than creating the infrastructure required for adequate additional training. It’s not like I’m well learned in these matters, but I’m not sure Ford sees a lack of education as an issue. I mean, it never stopped him.

Also, just a reminder that the Ford government removed rent caps for any properties built after November 2018. So if you’re getting one of these new rush jobs, it may be potentially unsafe, and they can raise your rent as they see fit. For the people, eh? Cool, just when we’re looking to find a new place. Will the fun never cease?

For me it will. I’m out.

Lookin’ like a pile o’ snacks

I have a problem right now.

It’s not a big problem, or an urgent problem, but it is a problem at the moment. There are too many snacks in this house. We hosted a party the other night, and ended up with more snacks than we had at the start of the night. It’s hard not to overdo it. Just because they’re there, it doesn’t mean that I have to eat them. Thing is, I do want to eat them eventually. Most of them are sealed, so they’ll keep. We have biscuits, candy, chips, crackers, popcorn. All yummy stuff. We also have charcuterie remnants in the fridge: Cheeses, meats, pickled goods. I’m having top tier sandwiches these days, and it’s fantastic. My problem-that’s-not-a-problem will sort itself out eventually. We’ll spend time with friends, bring snacks over to watch movies. Share the love. At the moment though, the snacks are just sitting there on our table. We don’t have the cupboard space to fit them, so they’re watching us. My girlfriend thankfully took the mini cupcakes to share with her co-workers. That still leaves a veritable pile, and I don’t just want to give it all away.

If I had to estimate, I’d say we have maybe 2-3 weeks worth of snacks. I’d rather that they were 3-4 weeks worth, but I know our nature. We’ll haphazardly open a bag, then feel obliged to finish it. Snacks are insidious like that. To compound the non-problem-problem, my girlfriend got me a heap of delicious cookies from back home as a birthday gift. They’re EVEN BETTER snacks than anything sitting on the table. I want to spread them out over time, but that would take the kind of willpower I rarely come by. These can’t all end up in my body. Maybe we’ll have to pointedly invite people over to share the load.

Underlying all of this faux woe, is the fact that I’ve gained weight recently. Much like the aforementioned munchery menace, it’s not truly a big deal. I’m in a great place with body image. It’s not the sort of thing that throws me for a loop anymore. A few days back, I stepped on the scale. It’d been a long long time, and the weight I’d gained was understandable. There’s been a lot of revelry over the Christmas and New Year period. I’ve supped and sipped with a lack of concern. It’s been fantastic. I’ve definitely overdone it, but I don’t feel terrible about it. Where in previous years I’d be pulled into this negative spiral, now I can look back at the past month or so and see very obvious causality. That doesn’t mean I’m stoked, but neither am I torn up. I just understand, is all.

While I may have surpassed the worst of my anxiety around my body, I can see that I want to do something about it. My clothes aren’t ill-fitting, but some are perhaps more snug than I’d like. The winter months are hard for keeping active in any case, and I’m sure a bunch of this weight will dissipate when I don’t have to contend with snow. At the moment though, a literal pile of snacks aren’t the first thing I want to see when I enter the kitchen. It seems the solution to my not-quite-problem is that I need to learn moderation. I can have little a cookie, as a treat. I don’t need to resort to demonising less healthy foods, but it’s worth taking into account what I’m taking into my mouth. Irregular schedules have meant that eating habits have been uneven, and I’d be well served to figure out how to work around these patterns. If that means just chowing down on cabbage on main, I can do that. I can always eat more cabbage.

As ever, kimchi can be a snack too.

A Leonardo original

Last night I left the house only to shovel the footpath. I returned over two hours later.

Yesterday was a total whiteout. It snowed all day long. The streets were covered. Some dude in our neighbourhood was going double time with his machine, doing his self-imposed duty to keep the footpaths clear. At some point I looked out and realised our footpath was still snowed over. Snow was still falling. I thought if I at least shovelled, it’d make things easier to work on later. I wrapped up and grabbed the shovel. I put on some music and went to town. The show was so soft. I found that in lieu of shovelling, I could kind of just push the shovel and send snow flying. It was less intense on my back/forearms, and made quick work of the task. Our neighbours are older, so I thought it’d be a nice deed to shovel their footpath too. Satisfied with a job well done, I walked out back to return the shovel. I looked at the picnic table sitting in our backyard. It was totally covered with snow. Maybe I could use that snow to make a lil’ snowman.

I’d never really done a lot of snow sculpting before. I scooped snow together and tried to make the ball base. It wasn’t coming together quite like I hoped. It was too difficult to roll the snow on the table, so what I had was more of a mound than a ball. I stopped and thought, wouldn’t it be funny to make a massive penis? Give the upstairs and downstairs neighbours a good chuckle when they came home? I worked on the balls, set up good foundations. I wanted the sculpture to top out around head height (pun surprisingly unintentional), so I could work on it from the ground. I realised that if it was gonna be a truly impressive sight, I had to establish some solid girth.

Having not done much snow sculpture, I totally loved it. I’m not a big visual art guy. I had a blast when my girlfriend and I had a modelling clay evening, but that was a specific style of sculpture. With the right consistency, snow sculpting is amazing. Last night’s snow was so soft. Unlike other mediums, I had basically unlimited materials. It was easy to pick up (and if I ever needed more, I could just shovel and dump the pile on the table) and shape. I realised that there were all kinds of techniques. If I was shaping vertically, I could shave away with firm downwards karate chops. It worked really well. If I wanted smooth surfaces, I could polish with my gloves. My fingers don’t go right to the end of my gloves, so there’s always a little tip at the ends. I found that I used these tips to do most of my line work or whittling. If I rapidly rotated my wrist, I could get a real Edward Scissorhands thing going on. If I made a mistake or wanted to change something, I could just pack more snow on, then whittle away at it to get the shape just right.

Hours passed and I lost myself in my task. I started really getting into the shaping. It was cool to be able to look at it from all angles, consider proportions, etc. I knew I wouldn’t quite get the girth to length ratio exactly as I wanted because of the height limitations, so I tried to decrease the size of the balls to help my shaft perspective. I stood on the table and looked down. Was it even on all sides? What kind of gradient did I want for the head? Were all sides even? What did I want the ridges to look like? Was I gonna do veins? I decided it could use little a frenulum, as a treat. My girlfriend came out at some point, worried I’d slipped and hurt myself. She offered hot cocoa when I finished. I had such a blast, and it might finally be time for me to own some waterproof pants so I can try again.

Anyway, here’s what you came for, in all its glory.