On Monday I took the train to Montréal. My brother Nulli was waiting, and we went off to get a late take-out lunch at Schwartz's (me) and Co Co Rico (Nulli). In years past I have had the famous black cherry soda to go with the smoked meat sandwich and fries, but at 46 g of sugar--forget about it. Sadly, the sandwich and fries were not the same without it.
We drove to Nulli's village in the Eastern Townships of Quebec (Estrie, en français). Village and countryside, thickly populated by tress, were knee-deep in snow. The lake was frozen solid and also covered with snow. Fantastically beautiful--and one reason why I travel to Canada in February!
My brother and his family live in a sprawling 1950s bungalow with a finished basement and an enormous conservatory added in the early 21st century. It has a stone floor, a pine wall and ceiling, ceiling high glass windows, a gas fireplace, my brother's grand piano, some green potted plants, comfy armchairs and sofa. Never mind the grandest rooms in the Historical House: this is my favourite room in the world.
Nulli and his kids are mad about karate. This morning I was treated to a demonstration of karate moves in the conservatory. Then my brother led me through yesterday's calisthenics workout again. He is disturbed by my Edinburgh tales of altercations on the Rough Bus, the Not Supposed to Be Rough Bus, the Rough Beach and the Polski Sklep and thinks I should learn karate, too. I have pondered this, but the quickest fixes would be (A) putting the old-lady berets in storage (B) taking the bus as infrequently as possible.
We went to the main street yesterday for lunch, and I was impressed at how neighbourly everyone was. (Of course, it is a small town.) I even met the sensei. Interestingly most people can switch from French to English (or from English to French) without too much awkwardness. Conversations between francophones and anglophones are cheerfully bilingual.
Today is a "frozen rain" day (snow is not a problem for anyone out here), so Peanut and Popcorn are home from school. This afternoon I shall teach them the Greek alphabet and then help them make cookies. At the moment they are suspiciously quiet, but apparently they really are just playing nicely.