Friday, October 31, 2008

Pizza Abomination

The Tuna-Eater is a terrible cook.  Not because he sucks at cooking and always burns/ruins things, but because he concocts nightmarish foodstuffs.  Like hot-dog covered pizza.  
So unnatural.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Snow

Yesterday night Ottawa got the first snow of the winter season.  Even though Halloween has not yet arrived.

No measly dusting of snow: This. Is. Canada.  The season's first snow is measured in inches.  Not as many inches at in Brockway, but this snow isn't Brockway's first.

Frozen ice drips on the awesome windows of the RCL prints/drawings/photographs lab.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Who Doesn't Love Singing Russians?

No matter your politics, I think we can all enjoy this. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Montreal: the First Visit

Last Sunday my Hungarian flatmates, Andrea and Benjamin, and I went to Montreal for the day.  
Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world.  (Paris is number one.)  Samuel de Champlain founded the fur-trading post that eventually became Montreal in 1611.  It was a major French colony until 1760 when it was surrendered to the British.

Montreal was briefly captured by the Colonial Revolutionaries Who Would Shortly Become the United States in 1775 in the highly unsuccessful 1775 Invasion of Canada.  Good one Benedict Arnold.

The other day I was reading something written by a Canadian about the US.  The Canadian wrote something along the lines of, "Eventually Canada will be invaded: every nation gets invaded.  It's nice to be neighbors with the US.  We're friends: if we were invaded, they'd help us.  Unless they were the invaders.  They did invade us once before, but it didn't work out.  But as a Canadian, you have to wonder, why hasn't the US invaded Canada?  If they would benefit by invading Canada, they'd do it.  So the benefits of a free Canada must be greater than an invaded Canada."

As an American, I think one of the greatest benefits of Free Canada is that you always have someplace to threaten to run away to if the US makes you really mad.  A la 'I'm so sick of these taxes/politicians/green dollar bills, I'm freaking going to move to Canada!'

And back to the Topic of Montreal:
It was homecoming at McGill College.  McGill is one of the major Canadian universities and, despite being situated in the middle of Montreal, is a primarily English-language university.

Andrea and I decided to pretend that we were alumni.  It was so nice to be back on the campus where we had so many happy undergraduate memories.

A city campus with a strong divide between the city buildings and the trees and lawns of academia.

I'm so happy to be in Montreal on a beautiful day.  Even though I appear rather panicked in this photo.

Who doesn't love public art?  Benjamin has some help cleaning out his nose.

Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde.  Mary Queen of the World Cathedral.

Fun fact: I've noticed that all of the Canadian cathedrals are constructed mainly of wood.  The first yard of the structure of this cathedral is made of marble, but above that everything is wood which has been faux-finished to look like different types of marble or expensive tropical woods.  And the marble isn't solid, it looks like veneers.

I think it must have been much cheaper to build a wooden cathedral, give it some fancy paint, and put marble veneers on the first yard up the walls than to ship enough chunks of marble from where-ever in Europe to build the same structure.

This cathedral is a 1/4 scale copy of St. Peter's in Rome.  Baldachino and coffered ceiling included.

St.  Joseph.  Candles were really expensive here, so we'll just all have to settle for a photo.

Across from a park in the Downtown neighborhood.

I love these new red shoes.

I Make Hye-Sung Go to a Concert with Me

On Saturday I made Hye-Sung go to a concert with me.  Actually, I had been aware of this concert since early September, and thinking at that time that the As-Yet-Unknown-Hye-Sung might also like to attend, delayed a ticket purchase until early October.  The musician in question was Feist, and I really wanted to go to the concert.  What could be more appropriate than Canadian musician playing at the National Art Center in Ottawa?  Perhaps the Barenaked Ladies playing in the same venue... They're playing in December, and I think I might go - when in Canada, do as the Canucks.  Except the milk in bags.  That's just weird.

Anyway, asking Hye-Sung about going to the concert went something like this:

Me:  Hey Hye-Sung, do you want to go to a concert?

Hye-Sung:  What?

Me: October 25th, Feist in playing in Ottawa.  Want to go?

Hye-Sung: Hmmm...  (tips her head to one side, I realize she has no idea what musician I'm talking about)  Twenty-five October?  Okay!  Good good good!

Me: Great! 

Hye-Sung often repeats a word or simple phrase three times.  It's her style.

So I kind of made her go with me...  I did burn a CD and gave it to her, saying, "This is who we're going to see."  Happily, she really liked the music.  And the concert was spectacular. 

(This video is not from the Ottawa performance.  It's whatever the interwebs had to share.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Which the Babies' Hats are Finished Just in Time!

I am moderately notorious for waiting until the last possible minute to complete baby hats.  Though I was not sure it would be possible, the hats for Alpha & Omega (now known as Colin & Gillian) were completed before they even turned a day old!  Not too bad.

The little fruit-tart hats are currently being blocked on some baby-head-sized balloons.  The balloons did not come with Happy Sleeping Baby Faces (TM).  I added those.  Because sometimes I am a genius.

As per AIC guidelines for documentation, the colorchecker has been included.  They're not intended to be "girl is pink and boy is blue" hats; they're "somebody is a raspberry tart and somebody is a blueberry tart" because those are the best kind of tarts  (see The Best Part of Paris).  Bobble-icious!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Library and Archives Canada

Last Friday Hye-Sung and I went to the Gatineau Preservation Center of the Library and Archives Canada.  The Preservation Center is gigantic, and only houses a portion of the collection of the Library and Archives Canada.  Conservation of books, paper, and photographs is on the to floor, as are the film archiving, processing, and reformatting staff.

This is the Preservation Center.  Or at least the part of it that fit in the camera frame.

The foyer.

Conservation: paper conservation in the foreground and photograph conservation in the background.

Compactor storage.  Our hosts are pictured, with the pink scarf is Tania the photograph conservator and in the blue jacket is Janet the collections manager.

The place is so big that there are street signs.  The hallways have names.  This was the most straight forward sign in the building.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gordon Lightfoot

For reasons to be detailed later, I was driving home from the Gallery today and radio channel surfing, like I do.  Guess what song was playing on the radio?

Gordon Lightfoot: the Wreak of the Edmund Fitzgerald!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Canadian Thanksgiving

Yesterday (Monday) was Canada's Thanksgiving.  I know, as your personal anthropologist/ethnologist, I really should have insinuated myself into a Canadian family in order to get invited to a Canadian Family Thanksgiving Dinner.  Unfortunately, I live in the International House of Pancakes.  Two flatmates are Hungarian, the Tuna Eater is Irish via the Arctic Circle, and there is me: the two Canadians live in far-away parts of Canada, so they did not go home for Thanksgiving.

I have drawn the following conclusions about the Canadian Thanksgiving:

1). Thanksgiving doesn't seem to be as big a deal in Canada as it does in the US: both socially and commercially.  The Canadian flatmates did not go home for the holiday, and the people at the Gallery I talked to either did not go home or did not go very far away.  Also, there have been no tv commercials or newspaper flyers advertising after-Thanksgiving Day sales.

2). The Canadian Thanksgiving meal seems to be the same as the American one.  Granted, my source for this is Hye-Sung, and the only dish she knew the English name for was 'big big turkey'.  (She went to Toronto with her flatmate, to the flatmate's family dinner.)

3). The paper conservator at the Gallery, Geoff, said that the Canadian Thanksgiving is so much earlier than the American one because the seasons change so much faster in Canada.  The Old-Timey-Canadian Harvest took place earlier in the year than the Old-Timey American Harvest.
I spent Canadian Thanksgiving at the CanadaHouse, making Uncle Joe's Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner: spaghetti and meatballs.  Then I started making the baby hats for Alpha and Omega- they'll be super-cute!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dish Rack Genius

Today I bought a dish rack.  The flatmates have been using the second-half of the two-part sink to store drying dishes.  I feel that this system is risky, in that it is very easy for messes to get on to those 'clean' dishes.  We needed a dish rack.
The flatmates are absolutely astounded by it.  Astounded to such a degree that it seems as though my purchase of a dish rack (which is an amazingly brilliant object) was the smartest thing any person has ever done.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Walking Tour 2: Centretown and the University of Ottawa

As tantalizingly alluded to earlier, last Saturday Hye-Sung and I took the guidebook and followed the route for 'Walking Tour 2: Centretown and the University of Ottawa'.  The highlight was definitely the Canadian Museum of Nature, and of course, as you know, the poutine.

The National War Memorial.  This was begun after World War I and, sadly, finished four months before World War II started.

I have no idea what this sculpture is about, except that it is terrifying.  Perhaps it is an Allegory of Canada: a large sleeping Arctic bear, soon to wake and consume all of the little fish surrounding it.

We wandered through a bunch of pleasant neighborhoods, walked along streets with little stores and kebob shops, dawdled in a large and friendly art supply shop.

The next stop: the Canadian Museum of Nature.  Really - the museums here have such grandiose names.  Whoever named them: good job!  The building that houses the museum is quite large and Victorian.  It is currently undergoing massive renovations (you can look through the windows and see the whole way through the building), but there are some open and revamped exhibits.

Follow the dinosaur tracks to find the exhibits.

The Canadian Museum of Nature is fun for all, but would be especially fun if you were a small child.  They also have a really awesome section devoted entirely to the birds of Canada.



There are some really fantastic dioramas at the Canadian Museum of Nature.  Hye-Sung and I decided to pose in front of them as though we were in the actual locations.  I think I told her, in this shot with the goats, to 'be a movie star, with goats'.

Being terrified of the moose.  Mum - this is for you.

Hye-Sung was wild about all of the fuzzy fluffy animals.  She also goes crazy every time she sees a squirrel or a chipmunk - she talks to them.  Apparently both little animals are quite rare in Paris: they are everywhere here.  Canada is Nature Central.

We stand in front of the infrared camera.  It was supposed to be teaching us something, but we don't know what, because we spent all of our efforts on photographing the screen.  I'm the one with the green specs.

Polar bears.  Thank goodness.  I would have been so disappointed if there were no polar bears.

This is Hye-Sung's favorite picture of me.  After she took it, she kept going through the saved photos, looking at it and giggling.

My favorite photo of Hye-Sung.

After the Canadian Museum of Nature, we went to the Elgin Street Diner for poutine (see Poutine).  Then the batteries in my camera died, so I'm sorry to say that there are no photographs of the lower portion of the Rideau Canal or the University of Ottawa

The Tuna Lecture

Right now, the entire Canada-House smells like tuna fish.

It has been smelling of tuna fish for about an hour and a half; I distinctly remember it beginning after one flatmate made a sandwich.  This flatmate in particular can be especially obnoxious, but that is probably a story or two for another day.  I surmised that the tuna-smell was likely his fault, as he is incapable of functioning in any sort of polite society despite the fact that he is over 20 years old.

I walk down stairs to get some Airborne, swathed in my American germ paranoia, and say in general to the flatmates gathered around the tv, "Why does the entire house smell like tuna fish?"

Flatmates 1 and 2, "I don't know."

Offender-Flatmate, "That's what that smell is!!!  Huh!!!  I don't know."

I walk into the kitchen and get some water for the aforementioned Airborne.  I notice, in the bottom of the sink, the stuff that remains when you drain the water from a tuna can - the fishy water with all the little tiny tuna pieces in it.  This is all over the sink basin, not washed away as it should have been.  I briefly glance into the garbage can.  In it rests the tuna can, unrinsed, little bits of tuna clinging to the insides and along the rim.  I rinse the sink, but leave the can.

I know whose work this is.  And in order to prevent future tuna-scents from permeating my freshly laundered clothing, I proceed back to the living room and deliver a lecture on the proper methods for dealing with tuna.  I give this entire speech staring into the air over all of their heads, as though I am mentally reading aloud some sort of scientific paper.

"I know why it smells like tuna fish.  When you squeeze the can to drain the water out into the sink, make sure that you rinse all the liquid and little bits down into the sink.  That way no tuna remains to generate the smell.  Also, it works well to rinse the can out too.  What is really best is to rinse the can out and then immediately place it into the recycling bin outside, on the porch.  That way the entire house will not smell like tuna fish."

This was followed by a comment from one of the non-offenders, "Or easier yet, don't eat tuna."

The Tuna Eater sat in silence, and I headed back upstairs.  Hopefully this will not happen again, or there will be some face-punching.  
As in me, punching Tuna Eater in the face.

Monday, October 6, 2008


This repulsive mess is a traditionally French-Canadian dish known as poutine.

Poutine is French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds.  Cheese curds.  

Hye-Sung and I went on my guidebook's 'Walking Tour Number 2: To Be Revealed Later' on Saturday.  The guidebook recommended stopping at the Elgin Street Diner for a classic (French) Canadian dish - the aforementioned poutine.  Everyone at the National Gallery has also been recommending poutine, talking about how great it is, how Canadian it is, how it is the best food to eat late at night.  Myself, I prefer toast.  But anyway, we definitely wanted to include a stop somewhere we could get some.

The Elusive Hye-Sung, waiting outside a massive and lethargic freight elevator at the Canadian Museum of Nature.  The museums in Canada has such fantastic names.

(Remember, Hye-Sung is South Korean, studying conservation in Paris).

Hye-Sung and I agreed that the poutine was good but that we should have split a plate, we each got such a massive amount that we each only managed to eat half of our plates.  We told the waiters that we'd never had poutine before and were greeted with a loud, "Really?!?!   Where are you from???"  And upon our answers the responses were, "And there's not poutine in France?  It's totally French.  And it's not in the US?  Wow."

Two poutines.  Hye-Sung's elbow in the top corner: she is also photographing her massive plate of French-Canadiana.