Slipped in the clippings

Many years ago, while living in Ottawa for a summer work term, brother #1 and I each bought electric hair clippers. We both shaved our heads at the time, and thought we could save money by doing it ourselves. (And checking the back of each others’ heads.)

I kept it up for probably a few years after graduating, but eventually starting going to proper barbershops. (I’ve always kept my hair short.) The clippers just got stuck in a drawer, but followed me around through each move.

When the pandemic hit and everything closed, I dug the clippers out of whatever drawer they were in. They still worked, and thank goodness, because they were the only thing that’s kept my hair reasonably tame since.

Yesterday, for the first time in over two years, I had an appointment with a barber. It’s just up the street (my old place was across the street from St. Lawrence Market, which was convenient when I lived around there, or still went to the market for groceries every other week, but not so much anymore), it was a very chill vibe, and I accepted the up-sell of a hot towel + face/head/neck/shoulder massage. This is NOT something I’d normally go for, but goddamn…I just about fell asleep in the chair. Now I don’t think I can go back to shaving my own head.

After, I picked up sandwiches, some sourdough, and a peach & pistachio tart from the nearby Petite Thuet (so that’s gonna become a regular thing too, I think) and managed to get home just before a violent thunderstorm blasted through.

Club Pickup

Today Lindsay and I (and our friend Sarah) drove down to Beamsville to pick up our Hidden Bench wine club allotment. It was our second one of these visits. It was a beautiful day — we ate snacks and sipped wine inside the barn and out.

We’re now loaded up on a bunch of great Riesling and rosé for the summer, but also their killer Pinot for the cellar and — most excitingly — the 2018 La Brunante, their flagship red, which was superb when we sampled it today. I still have the 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017 vintages as well, so there’s a pretty solid vertical building up.

DriveTime

Since I’ve been driving to work a few times a week, I’ve managed to resume some podcast-listening, which used to be my TTC commute activity. Some favourites of late:

  • Scamfluencers, in which Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi tell stores of true (mostly white-collar) crime carried out by people with some combination of gumption and psychopathy.
  • The new season of Against The Rules by Michael Lewis.
  • Will Be Wild, about the Jan 6 US Capitol riot.
  • I’m just about to start a podcast about Nova Scotian winery Avondale Sky. Their site says “If you love wine, business and the thrill of new ventures. Then Avondale Sky Winery Podcast is the show for you.” and I was like…yup.

Pie & Twenty

We just got back from a couple of nights away in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I worked from there on Friday, which gave us a nice excuse to stay an extra night. We stayed at 124 On Queen for the first time (big win; nice rooms and super central), had a couple beers at the Irish Harp Pub, and dinner — as always — at Treadwell:

  • Bread w/ 13th Street Blanc de Blancs
  • First
    • D: Whiskey Cured Atlantic Salmon, Creamed Sweet Potato, Maple & Birch Syrup w/ a Nebbiolo rose from Piedmont but I can’t remember which
    • L: Chilled Pea & Mint Soup, Chive Crème Fraiche, Preserved Lemon, Brown Butter Crumb w/ a Loire Chenin…just can’t remember which one
  • Second
    • D: Pan Seared Scallops, Maple & Chili Glazed Pork Belly, Apple & Yuzu Puree w/ Flat Rock Nadja’s Riesling
    • L: Herb & Upper Canada Ricotta Gnocchi, Green Garlic Pesto, “Pingue” Guanciale, Shaved Pecorino w/ Azienda Agricola Molino Arneis
  • Mains
    • D: Honey & Black Pepper Roasted Duck Breast, Charred Endive, Orange Marmalade, Hoisin Sauce w/ Stephane Aviron “Chénas Vielles Vignes”
    • L: a dinner special of trout crusted with chorizo w/ 13th Street “June’s Vineyard” Unoaked Chardonnay
  • Dessert
    • D: Pistachio Tart with Vanilla Whipped Cream w/ Meldville Sparkling Muscat
    • L: a dessert special of panna cotta, rhubarb, and some other stuff w/ Meldville Sparkling Muscat

This morning we slept in, picked up two pies from the new Pie Plate store, stopped at Leaning Post for what was supposed to be a few bottles but turned into twenty, and drove home. I must say, just being able to pull into the garage and unload things sure beats dropping off a rental car and shlepping our tired asses home.

A new hope

The Raptors won yesterday against the 76ers, staving off the sweep. (Sorry, Shaq.) Despite no team ever coming back from 3-0 down, I’ll keep the faith until the end. This team has earned it.

Meanwhile, my only excitement surrounding the Canadiens has been hoping they finish dead last so they have the best shot at the #1 draft pick.

Apart from the Raps overachievement, most of my excitement lately has been for the start of the Blue Jays season. They look awfully good this year, and they’ve been fun to watch.

And so it goes. One team playing well (and favoured to win it all); one occupying the middle, and one in dead last. Logically, it’s so rare that all your teams would be at the top at the same time. I guess the closest I ever got was 1993:

  • the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup
  • the Blue Jays won their second world series in a row
  • The Edmonton Eskimos (I used to watch way more CFL) won the Grey Cup
  • The New York Knicks (the team I considered my favourite, until the Raptors were created) lost in the Eastern Conference finals to the Bulls

At the time I probably didn’t appreciate how rare all that combined success was.

So, go Jays. And c’mon, Shane Wright.

Meat. Sports. Good.

Last Saturday I went to my first hockey game since the pre-Omicron home opener. The game was, just like said opener, Leafs against Habs. I’d managed to get my hands on some tickets, so I brought a former colleague who’s a big Leafs fan. We had dinner before at the Hot Stove Club, where we indulged in huge steaks and a 2001 Rioja, which might have been a tiny bit past its peak (no tannin or acid left, just fruit — dried fruit, given the age — and relatively subtle oak, but it hadn’t tipped over into a vegetal note. In retrospect I might have ordered a more delicate cut than my ribeye to match it properly, but we’re niggling now. It was a lovely meal, and chance to catch up. I also got to see Auston Matthews hit fifty goals in his last fifty games, even if it did come at the expense of my team. Nonetheless, a good night all around.

The first rule of flight club

Earlier this week we joined a handful of other patrons at Chez Nous Wine Bar’s inaugural Flight Club. It involved samples of 11 different Ontario wines (see below) some of which were the acknowledged stars of Niagara, while others snuck up on us.

It was terrific fun, to where Lindsay had to restrain me from excitedly blabbing too much. If this is a monthly event, we’ll happily keep signing up. Though, given how we felt Tuesday morning, we probably won’t share a bottle of wine before we go to the next one. That wasn’t our best call.

The wines:

  • Meldville Muscat Bubble 2020
  • 2027 Cellars Pinot Gris 2020
  • Leaning Post Riesling 2018
  • Flat Rock Gewuztraminer 2020
  • 13th Street Maximum Intervention 2020 (Riesling; orange wine)
  • Big Head Rosé 2020 (Malbec)
  • Westcott Temperance 2020 (Pinot Noir / Gamay)
  • Bachelder “Les Villages” Gamay 2019
  • Malivoire Analog 2020 (Cabernet Franc / Gamay)
  • Ravine “Sand & Gravel” Cabernet Franc 2019
  • Black Bank Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

One year ago

A year ago today I tested positive for COVID. I’d felt bad for several days, then felt better to the point of being pretty surprised at testing positive, and shortly after the diagnosis went through the worst of it. Our neighbours and their neighbours were a few days ahead of me; Lindsay was a few days behind.

We made it through okay, obviously, but it’s pretty freaky to think about.

Dune

When I made my list of favourite movies of 2021, Dune (imdb | rotten tomatoes) made the cut. I mentioned that I’d never read any of the books, even though my dad loved them. I decided to change that, and bought — and read — a copy of Dune (goodreads) in February. It was pretty good too — a dense little sci-fi switch-em-up amidst nonfiction.

I also grabbed the second and third books in the series — Dune Messiah and Children Of Dune — for later. Maybe they’ll be a palate cleanser when I finish The Lynching (goodreads) in a week or so.

Two years

Yesterday, March 18, marked exactly two years since my last day at the office (at my previous company), and, for all intents and purposes, the start of the lockdown for Lindsay and I.

No point rehashing the last two years, but it does feel like we’re now — for better or worse, and perhaps only temporarily — tentatively re-entering the world, at least in Toronto. Last Friday we went to see a (very excellent) Jacqueline Novak comedy show; last night I met up with some old Delano colleagues, one of whom I hadn’t seen in 21 years, at Craft Beer Market, which was pretty much full. On Monday, I start working in the office again, a few days a week.

I hope we can keep things under control. I hope we can restart our social lives in some way without endangering the most vulnerable. Even I, Captain Introvert, crave interaction and dinners out and travel experiences. But not at all costs, so…fingers crossed for safe re-entry.