Thursday, 30 July 2015

The feline dilemma

I recently blogged about this new cat who shows up in the communal garden. There has been some development about him and it created a bit of a dilemma. First, he has become more and more accustomed to the people living around here. Some of them in particular: a middle aged woman and her young niece (who is spending summer here with her aunt), an old lady living alone, who apparently lets him in her flat, and well, my wife and I. We have decided to name him Domino, after hesitating between Guinness, Oreo, Prospero (very Shakespearean I know), Freya (if it was a female cat that would have been her name). As Domino has been very eager to walk in the flat, we agreed to let him in sometimes, when the weather was bad. Because of what happened to Odin, we don't want him to cross the street and get run over.

So we invited him in, or rather he did, I mean before we could say yes (well, as far as we can talk to a cat) he had ran in when we opened the door. And since then we do let him in from time to time. Domino settled in easily, too easily I might add. Odin did too, but at least we had the blessing of his owners. Domino's owners, with whom we spoke three minutes all in all, only told us that "he's very independent". We don't even know his real name. Or theirs. And for the record, before we even allowed their cat in, we tried to give him back to his owners, but nobody was there when we knocked. And we know others, at least two, have let him in their apartment from time to time and fed him. Even if Domino's true owners say he is very independent, their cat keeps asking for attention the moment we go out. So... We are in a bit of dilemma. I don't want to be labeled a catnapper. And he is no Odin, who was a true independent (if demanding), cat: Domino is far less aloof, far needier and far more vocal. All the same, it feels good to have him around and to see him wolf down the treats we give him. And he is happy around us and here. Especially since that when he is not here, he is in the garden, spending his days sitting in the mud until somebody comes to him and cuddles him. But he is not our cat. And I do not want him to develop a dependence on us that could be dangerous for him when we go away. Not to mention that we do not have the right to own a cat. I couldn't care less when I had Odin, but these are different circumstances. So this is our feline dilemma.

L'humiliation de Gérald Tremblay

Je sais que ce n'est pas vraiment une justice pleine et entière. En fait, ce n'est peut-être même pas un début de justice. Je crois que ça n'arrivera que lorsque l'ancien maire sera traduit en justice. Cela dit, quand j'ai lu hier que l'UPAC avait perquisitionné chez Gérald Tremblay, ça m'a fait comme une petite joie féroce. Ca ne sera jamais comme s'il avait été battu aux élections comme il l'aurait mérité. Mais au moins, le fieffé imbécile creatard qui croyait au Déluge et à l'Arche de Noé se fera fouiller comme un vulgaire bandit de bas étage. Ah, schandenfreude! Bien fait pour sa gueule, quand même.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Signs of the coming autumn?

I know, I know, it is a strange title to have when July is not even over yet. But it is ending. And I cannot help but see and feel the signs in the air. I might be wrong. I am no sibyl or oracle. And I know I am pushing it as I usually blog about the signs of autumn coming in August, not July. So I hesitated a lot before blogging about them. But here they are. At least I think so. Maybe it is wishful thinking, you tell me:

-The temperature has gone down. Considerably for a month of July. Even when it is sunny, it is not hot. It is warm at best. I need to wear warmer clothes. Not heavy ones, but still.
-There is often a gentle breeze, not a warm one but a cool one, that can be actually surprisingly stingy. I only have the experience of this sort of breeze when autumn is coming.
-In the evenings, the temperature goes down a lot more.
-Talking of evening, the sun goes down earlier and earlier. Of course, this would be true anyway after the solstice, but when it gets cloudy, you can feel the evening falling far more. With the temperature cooling down and the wind, it really feels like autumn.

So there you have it. Maybe wishful thinking. August months, even September sometimes, have been hotter than July. All the same, I enjoy the cooler days and the signs, whether they are red herrings or genuine.

Une co(q)uille

Ceci un billet sur les petites trouvailles que l'on découvre de temps en temps dans notre quotidien. Je veux parler de celle-ci: une coquille d'oeuf, enfin une moitié de coquille d'oeuf, prise dans le jardin. Ca a l'air d'une coquille en tout cas. Je ne sais pas de quel oiseau il s'agit. je me demande s'il y a eu un nid dans le jardin. Si c'était le cas, la coquille de l'oeuf éclos serait arrivée bien tard dans le jardin. Elle y est toujours. Petite anecdote linguistique puisqu'on parle de coquilles: en fraçais, on dit qu'une faute de frappe est une coquille. Cela vient bien entendu d'une faute de frappe sur le mot: si on n'enlève le q de coquille, alors ça devient tout autre chose et ça prend un tout autre sens. Alors voilà, coquille est notre mot du jour.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Stories of the Supernatural (an anecdote)

I blogged two days ago about my recent visit to Wallingford. It was too short a time really. I did however made time to visit their independent bookshop. As usual, I bought a few books there, as I always find treasures. I also saw a booklet called Oxfordshire Stories of the Supernatural, with a sticker saying "Only £3.95" (which makes it cheaper than online, believe it or not). The cover looked very exciting and I knew it was some stupid book of cheap thrills and "real" ghost stories, but at this price I thought I might as well purchase it. I have a thing for local folklore and legends and however silly these stories are they make for great Halloween reads.

Except that I did not purchase it. Because however I love that cover, I thought it looked awfully familiar. I thought I might already have purchased it, maybe in this very independent bookshop. So I decided not to. Buying the same book a second time is always too expensive, when you can use this money to purchase a new book you never read. And I already had made a few purchases. And it's not like my collection of scary stories is lacking, in fact I am quite proud of it, what I truly lack is time to read them. So I pondered about buying it and then giving it to someone who loves scary stories (say Buffy's owner), but then decided not to purchase. At home, I discovered my mistake: I had bought during my time in Devon its own regional Stories of the Supernatural. It had the exact same cover. Only the colours surrounding the spooky image are a bit different. So that means I will have to go back to Wallingford and its bookshop, hoping nobody will have snatched it before. Oh well, it's an excuse like any other.

Un travail de moine...

J'ai sans aucune gêne volé cette photo de la page Facebook de la Chocolaterie des Pères trappistes. Je sais, je suis un impie sans foi ni loi. ce qui est vrai: je n'aime guère l'Église et ses prêtres, je suis un apostat qui assume pleinement son anticléricalisme, sauf que je me permets d'avoir un peu d'affection pour les moines, surtout lorsqu'ils font oeuvre utile en préparant pareils délices. Car c'est difficile à battre comme dessert. Alors je leur fais de la publicité: leurs chocolats aux bleuets sont maintenant disponibles. Vous trouverez leurs points de vente ici. Je devrais dire leurs bleuets enrobés de chocolat, car c'est plus exact. Ce qui fait la différence, c'est le bleuet sauvage. Et j'imagine que ça doit être un travail délicat d'enrober tout ça de chocolat noir. Un travail de moine, en quelque sorte.

Monday, 27 July 2015

The old coat is back

As you might have known from my Friday post, I need a new coat, because my usual one leaves me soaked when it rains a lot. Well, this weekend I washed this stupid coat and as it was still drying yesterday I used my old coat. It is a coat I bought at a ridiculously cheap price back in 2009, lean, worn out, very old. Black, but that kind of pale black that is getting dangerously close to charcoal colour. I had to sew one of its pocket back because I had accidentally tear it when sitting on a chair where the pocket had caught an arm rest. So it is scarred too. You know, it's an old thing. I had replaced it with the rubbish coat I want to replace. My old coat was getting temperamental when zipping and, well, it looked very old. But I had kept it. And I thus wore it as a temporary coat yesterday and today. And... And it was fine. It is more practical than the rubbish one, as it has more pockets. It has a better hood that stays on your head. It does not leave me soaked. And the temperamental zipper seemed to be working just fine. It also looks better on me (or I look better in it). So I wonder why I wanted to get rid of it in the first place, apart from its age.

La chauve-souris se meurt au Québec

Le titre n'est pas de moi mais de La Presse Sciences. Lors de ma pause du midi, j'ai lu cet article déprimant (désespérant même) sur la chauve-souris québécoise, dont la population serait décimée par le syndrome du museau blanc (SMB). Cinq espèces seraient menacées. Ca aura un effet malsain sur l'écosystème, car les chauves-souris sont insectivores (les québécoises en tout cas). Et puis, toutes raisons environnementales mises à part, moi j'aime les chauves-souris. Je ne les ai guère vues au Qébec (ici c'est le contraire, elles sont assez nombreuses), mais je me rappelle du jardin de la famille d'un ami où elles volaient souvent le soir. Enfin, pour mes lecteurs vivants au Québec, le gouvernement sollicite des informations de la population pour répertorier les colonies de chauves-souris. Veuillez consulter pour plus d'infos. Bon voilà, j'aurai fait au moins une bonne action aujourd'hui.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The cream tea and Bean & Brew in Wallingford

As this is (still) the weekend and as a weekend tradition on Vraie Fiction I am plugging a meal from a restaurant. This is the new discovery I made yesterday in Wallingford: Bean & Brew, an independent coffee house. For the record, Wallingford is one of my favorite English towns and one of its appeals is its independent businesses, like this one. And because it is such a pretty town. So I had this classic delicious cream tea yesterday afternoon, with scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam. The tea was from lose leafs, not teabags, from Tea People, a company Bean & Brew advertise a lot. It is the first time I've heard of them, but I will learn more, because this was one of the best teas I had in ages. That means it was the best cream tea I had in ages too, because it needs to start with a good tea. But the food was delicious too. I could have eaten more, greedy as I was. So I intend to go back to Wallingford as soon as possible to enjoy the town and this new place.

À la Sainte-Anne...

A la Sainte-Anne les bleuets sont mûrs. C'est le raisin de chez-nous, fils du feu; du sol humble et pierreux c'est l'offrande; c'est le miel des crans sauvages, le frère des éricales dans le royaume infini des sphaignes et des tourbières.

 Menaud maître-draveur, Félix-Antoine Savard

Je le cite chaque année, la même citation. Mais le chez-nous de la citation, c'est le Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean. Bon, je sais, dans le roman c'est Charlevoix, mais c'est le fruit emblématique de ma région, alors je peux dire que le bleuet c'est mon raisin. Et aujourd'hui, c'est le temps de le récolter.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Irish teddy bear

You remember that I blogged about this plush toy before. It is a lovely looking teddy bear with a shamrock on his tummy that is one of the decorations and emblematic elements of the local Irish pub. i wanted to mention him again to correct a mistake I made in my first post. And also because he looks really cool. Anyway, I thought at first that he was a Care Bear, to be more precise Good Luck Bear. And, while I loved the bear, I have to confess I don't care one bit about the sickeningly sweet Care Bears. But then my brother PJ made a very accute remark in a comment: the shamrock does not have four leafs, unlike Good Luck Bear's. There are other differences, important ones, which I then noticed. Care Bears had a lot of heart shaped elements in their design: their paws, their nose and, in Good Luck Bear's case, the (four) leafs of his shamrock. This is obviously not the case here. In fact, a quick look at the Care Bear on Amazon makes you realize that the design of the bear of the Irish pub is far simpler. So this bear is either an imitation, as my brother thinks, or his resemblance to the 80s brand of plush toys and cartoon is merely coincidental.

Either way, I am very glad, because as I said I don't care about Care Bears. And imitation or coincidence, this means that this bear stand on his own, does not belong to a stupid brand which had no place in an Irish pub. Can you imagine a Care Bear drinking alcohol? Or even condoning the consumption of alcohol? Which is ironic, because some bears have been known to be drinkers. No, this bear is now truly Irish (wherever he was made). He is green and white, he has a shamrock on his tummy, he truly belongs to this pub. And I am sure he brings the luck of the Irish far better than the other one. All he needs now is a name. I might baptize him Shamrock.

Les huevos rancheros d'Aux Vivres

Je l'avoue, ceci est un pur billet de food porn et désolé si vous vivez le Supplice de Tantale en regardant ça. Mais je le subis aussi: si j'ai déjà fait la découverte des huevos rancheros, je n'ai jamais mangé la version d'Aux Vivres. Comme la plupart des photos de leurs mets végétaliens, je les ai prises... de leur page Facebook. Ces huevos rancheros s'ajoute à la longue liste de ces mets que je devrai découvrir ou redécouvrir lors de mon retour à Montréal. Petite note: bien entendu, Aux Vivres étant végétalien, ce ne sont même pas de vrais oeufs. Qu'importe, je veux essayer ça au moins une fois comme déjeuner.

Friday, 24 July 2015

I need a new coat

After more than a month or so of dry weather, it has started raining today. Pouring, in fact. I went to buy my usual sandwich treat and had to get through torrential rain. And... And I was soaked, to there and back. Because I discovered that my cheap light coat/jacket, which I bought even cheaper on a sale at some cheap shop, about two years ago. I thought that with the hood, it would be suitable enough for rainy days. Mistake, big mistake. I had already discovered this coat was not much of a raincoat at all, but today I truly felt it. I might as well have been wearing a jacket made of sponge. So the moral of the story is: I need a new coat. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to tell me.

Les Bleu Poudre et Jean Coutu pour vendredi

C'est vendredi, alors je télécharge pour célébrer et vous faire rire un peu (voire beaucoup) ce sketch de 100 Limite, avec Jean Coutu qui est en mode autoparodique et autodérision, absolument génial. Un grand acteur qui a le sens de l'humour. Pour la petite histoire, l'émission a été mon émission québécoise préférée pendant un temps et la cassette/le disque À Vendre, je l'ai écouté jusqu'à l'usure.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Planning the holiday reads

As I am planning my holidays to York, which are not for soon but still these needs to be prepared, I am also preparing my reading list for then. I do the same for every holiday: I make myself a list of a few holiday books that I try to make as much as possible relevant to the place. You might remember what I did last year for my time in Devon, which I think was a pure stroke of genius. York proved to be slightly trickier. Then I decided that I will read Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. I will rediscover a crime writer I know fairly little about, discover the source material of a classic movie I have yet to watch and more importantly... I have a book that fits thematically with the long train journey ahead. I think I am absolutely brilliant (I say it with all humility). It will be the topic of another post, but I have good reasons to believe that our time in Yorkshire will be another railway-themed holiday.

And also, as I did last year in Devon, I will also bring a book of scary stories (I don't know which one yet, I have a rather good collection, if I may say so myself). There are two reasons for it. The first one is that Yorkshire, like many great English places, seems to be full of atmosphere and character, the kind you would need to fully appreciate a scary story. The second one is, as fellow blogger Jaz from October Farm reminded me yesterday in a post, there are less than a hundred days until Halloween.That might sound silly, but that means Halloween is slowly but surely getting there. And I start reading horror stories to get myself in the mood as early as August now. First mixed with other reads, then gradually full on. But first, I will enjoy a good old crime thriller. And you, what do you read on holidays?

Sentier chicoutimien

C'est un ami à moi qui a pris cette photo, publiée sur Facebook. Un sentier de marche près de son centre-ville, à Chicoutimi, il a ajouté dans son explication sur la photo "ancienne voie ferrée". je ne sais pas si ça veut dire que ce sentier est l'ancienne voie ferrée, ou s'il est près de l'ancienne voie ferrée. J'ai décidé de la lui prendre, avec sa permission, et de la publier ici. Parce que c'est un aspect de ma ville d'origine et du Saguenay que j'aime beaucoup: la proximité avec la nature. Il suffit parfois de traverser deux ou trois rues et on se ramasse dans le bois. Enfin bref, j'irais bien me promener dans ce sentier ou dans un autre à Chicoutimi.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The name is Spectre

Ohhhh, goodie, goodie, goodie! The Bond fan in me was happy today: the new, full, full blown and fully glorious trailer of Spectre was released this morning, at 8:00AM  BST. I know I am that precise, because I watched it first thing in the morning on my phone, as soon as it was released. I was not merely happy, or excited, I was bleeding ecstatic. This may actually be the Bond movie I have been dreaming about, but never daring to hope, let alone expect, to see one day. Bond's nemesis Blofeld is most likely back, with the face of Christoph Waltz. This is a lovely throwback not only to the old days, but also to the novels. I don't want to dwell on it like I did for the previous teaser and the first one. So I am leaving the trailer below for you to enjoy and please feel free to comment on it. Am I the only one to be excited about this movie? I don't think so. And by the way, the acrylic painting on this post was done by local (I think) artist Teresa Illman, based on a scene from Skyfall. I thought I would put it here to give this post a personal touch.

Le sandwich à la crème glacée gentrifié

Petit billet de gastronomie estivale, doublé de nostalgie. Nous sommes le temps de la crème glacée et qui dit crème glacée dit sandwiches à la crème glacée. Vous en mangez encore, vous? Je me rappelle que c'était, avec le sundae, l'un de mes desserts glacés préférés quand j'étais enfant. C'était un truc souvent collant, enfin la tranche du sandwich, un biscuit au chocolat, était mou, collant et il me restait sur les doigts. On va se dire les choses franchement: c'était un dessert cheap. Mais c'était bon! Et puis je me rappelle qu'il y en a eu de meilleure qualité quand j'étais plus vieux, qui ne collaient pas autant aux doigts, tout aussi bons, mais ils avaient perdu un certain charme désuet. La dernière fois que je me rappelle avoir mangé des sandwiches glacés, c'était en 2000. Ca date. Je m'en rappelle parce que mon petit cousin de quatre ans alors s'était bourré la fraise desdits sandwiches pas longtemps avant souper lors d'un séjour chez nous. Ma mère l'a gâté pas mal plus qu'elle l'a fait avec ses propres enfants, quand on avait son âge.

Alors et enfin bref, je suis tombé sur un article de La Presse/Le Soleil en ligne titré Fondre pour le sandwich glacé. On y apprend qu'il s'est sophistiqué et en fait passablement gentrifié. Et je ne suis pas certain que ce soit une fabuleuse idée. Parce que pour moi, un sandwich glacé c'est un dessert simple, voire un peu bête, donc complètement dénué de snobisme. Et donc le grans sparage pour transformer ce dessert bête en un truc haut de gamme, je trouve ça un peu contre nature. Bon, cela dit, je suis gourmand et j'ai une dent sucrée, alors je ne bouderai pas mon plaisir si jamais j'ai l'occasion de manger un sandwich au gelato italien, ou peu importe comment il sera réinventé lors de sa gentrification. Mais j'en achèterais bien un dans un dépanneur, là, que je mangerais avec autant de plaisir.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Shady characters

It happens sometimes, mostly in the evenings or at night. My wife and I take an evening walk, or I walk back after doing some shopping, or after she walks home from her orchestra practise. There is a car parked somewhere, in the parking of this block of flats or another, or on the side of the street. And there is someone in it. Usually just one person, sometimes two. When we can see more than their silhouette in the shadows, they are people we have never seen before (and never see after), just waiting in their car, waiting for what we don't know and it is always a strange time and place to wait for whatever they are waiting. Have anyone of you ever had these types of encounters? Maybe I read too much crime fiction and I know I have a wild imagination at any time, but my imagination is really fired up and set free when I see them: I always find these people highly suspicious, if not downright sinister. I mean, we live in a small, quiet English town. A place where nothing or very little happens. Then again, I know there is crime here, like everywhere else, and sometimes violent crimes too (I might blog more about it one day). So there are these moments when I wonder if I am not witnessing something taken directly from fiction, when a hitman or a criminal of some sort is spying on his future victims. It is like walking by a crime drama about to happen. In any case, because of the circumstances of their sighting, these are truly shady characters.

Le jardin familial cet été

Mon plus jeune frère Andrew est allé passer quelques jours chez mes parents pendant les vacances. Il a pris des photos du jardin familial, notamment des clématites qui sont en fleurs, par esprit de fierté filiale. Mes frères et moi ne sommes pas le moins du monde jardiniers, mais en ce qui concerne mon père, c'est une autre paire de manches. Je n'ai pas vu la maison familiale en été, le vrai été tel qu'il l'est en juillet, depuis 2006. Et comme chaque été, il y a un moment où ça me manque. J'ai blogué sur le sujet l'année dernière. Et encore une fois je sens que quelques jours d'été chez mes parents me manquent. Et puis bon, aussi beaucoup par fierté filiale, j'ai décidé de publier une des photos des clématites contre le solarium prises par mon frère.