Just so you know, I am officially off sugar. No more sugar. By any reckoning, Christmas is over, and since I arrived in Canada I have already consumed the following essentials:
Black Midnight birthday cake made by my mother
Striped shortbread triangles made by my mother
Real Canadian maple syrup on pancakes made by my mother
A Tim Horton's old-fashioned doughnut
A chocolate chip cookie made by my niece and me
One scoop of Vermont's famous Ben & Jerry's ice-cream--in Vermont!
Yesterday my brother and I went to visit Red Mezzo in Vermont. Long-time readers with excellent memories may remember that Red Mezzo is my red-haired opera singer friend who lived in Montreal. Like most of my long-term readers, she has ceased to be Single. She got married to her handsome crush object (who adored Rita Hayworth) and now lives on a dairy farm an hour's drive from my brother. She and her husband now have two beautiful children toddling merrily around their old farmhouse.
After coffee and zucchini bread, Red Mezzo, her daughter and I went upstairs to clean up the daughter's room and play with her toys. I could not resist the Fisher-Price clock, for I used to have one exactly like it, and discovered for the first time that its tune is "Grandfather's Clock" (1876) by Henry Clay Worth. Then I played with the wooden doll with the 100 (literally) magnetic outfits. Finally I seized the children's version of Anna Karenina which was all about AK's clothes and not at all about trains.
Highly suspicious, I searched the lovely illustrations for a hidden train, but it isn't there. It is a completely unironic child's version of Anna Karenina with direct quotes about AK's clothes. There is an illustration of Vronsky in his lovely white uniform, but no mention of or reference to Karenin. Little girls who love this book--and I reveled in the pretty dresses- are in for a terrible shock when they grow up and read (or see) the whole thing. I still haven't read it, but the Keira Knightley film left me with jitters.
Then we all sat down to lunch which was followed up by Ben & Jerry's ice cream, which may have milk from the very cows in the very barn in it. I had one little scoop because (despite all the treats mentioned above) I am on a low-sugar diet. Red Mezzo's husband felt badly that he was giving me sugar, but I assured him that I considered B&J ice cream the vin de pays of Vermont.
Maybe a good low-sugar diet rule is that one can only eat Ben & Jerry's when one is actually in Vermont.
We returned to my brother's village in Quebec after lunch, so as to greet the returning schoolchildren. After supper, my brother took me along to karate, and I was highly impressed when the sensei asked him to take the children aside and refresh their memories on some kata (or whatever they are). My niece--an orange-belt--was the smallest child there and the most impudent. (Nulli to Popcorn: "I 'm not daddy, I'm sempai !")
I was charmed when Popcorn pulled her two girlfriends there--one much taller and somewhat older than myself--over to my bench to introduce us. This display of good manners was so staggering in a six year old that I can only assume there was an element of "show-and-tell" to it all. (The girls smiled shyly and seemed delighted to be pulled hither and thither by the tiny human tugboat.) Then I was terribly impressed when my brother taught the children--a mix of francophones, anglophones and hispanophones--in English, French, and whatever necessary Japanese.
But it was -17 C when we got back out to car. Brrrrr! How happy I was to return to my brother's hearth with a book.