Sunday, February 13, 2011

Enrobed Manotick Faerie Duck

"Tis not the ice nor frosty winds, 
but shadows in the winter gloom, 
That thicks man's blood with cold."

- My Canadian respin of an ancient mariner's rime

Yet another Canadian dawn draws forth a minor agitation: What manner of arctic illusion doth beset mine eyes, this time?

Faerie fire, perhaps.

Or maybe steam from somebody's shower vent.

Look, it's another Toastmasters club. Lucille Bouthillier, who I met at the Above and Beyond Advanced TM Club was kind enough to invite me to the Manotick Toastmasters, home club of Chris Ford.

I had no idea who Chris Ford was, but by the way I was told that information it felt as though it was something I should have known.

Manotick is a quaint little town just outside of Ottawa. The club was formed in 1996 and meets in an 18th century building. That night, the local Pathfinders Girl Guides joined in the meeting as observers. Back when I was in the Australian Scouts, our patrol set the state time record for pitching a 6-person tent.

One minute and forty one seconds, to be precise.

I liked a lot about the Manotick Toastmasters. They had a good variety of speakers, tea and biscuits, as well as an early portrait of Queen Elizabeth II mounted on the wall. During the table topics session, I was a reporter interviewing Albert Einstein.

Once upon a time in my life, snow was fun and frolic-worthy. Not long after that, it became a nuisance. The Canadians have all manner of methods for its removal, including local neighbourhood patrols of modified trucks that meander through the sidestreets.

These would also be useful to collect up all the cash when a Lotto truck tips over on the highway.

During our ritual weekly visit to the supermarket, I extended my camera out with my hand and said "Hey Ethan, look at this."

Above is what a three year old boy looks like, observing the click of a camera shutter.

Going anywhere in the Ottawan winter requires careful risk assessment of the pros and cons.

You could find something new and amazing, or you could end up being found by a search party, frozen in a large block of ice holding a map in your hand.

Little Italy is worth the hassle though. Simply for the quality of their antipasto seafood dishes.

King Neptune himself wouldn't mind his minions being relished so tastily.

I bought a packet of SKOR chocolate from the local supermarket, just because they used the word 'enrobed' in their description. It seems like a word that we need to use more often.

Such enrapturing vocabulary enthralls me as I sit enthroned upon my chair.

I like museums as much as any other amateur childhood palaeontologist, but one country's heavily lacquered dinosaur skeleton often seems as good as the next's.

Hmm... 'next's'...  now there's a funny word.

The Canadian Museum of Nature was fairly good, but nothing out of the ordinary except for an unusually large collection of fluorescent rocks. I heard that the Museum of Civilisation is more impressive, but it was north of the river and thus beyond the borders of my bus route knowledge. 

We had some good times at Alaa's place eating pizza, inhaling shisha and playing cards. I learned a new card game called Con Carne. The aim is to get rid of your cards by producing certain sets. And out of about 100 rounds, I failed to win a single game.

In retrospect, I think I played a little too conservatively.

We spent the Chinese New Year at Bao's house, with Wei-Wei making a traditional dumpling recipe from their hometown of Shandong. 

Shandong dumplings have pork and chives as stuffing and are a nice alternative to Korean mandu. We had a good time exchanging international dumpling technology.

In Australia, we have really large ones called pasties.

It was a nice and cosy night with some good food and a little wine. I contributed the plate of roast duck, sourced from the Green Fresh Chinese Grocery. There were many firsts  that night as well: First New Year in North America, First Time Eating Shandong Dumplings and First Time I've Spent a New Year Thinking a Lot About Firsts.

The Year of the Rabbit hopped in quietly without much further ado. Here's hoping that it will be a good one for us all.


Anonymous said...

Woo dumplings :D
I actually made my first pasties the other day :) What kind of fillings do you use in Australia?

pitchfest said...

Hmm, parsnips, I think. And carrots and potatoes. That's something that James Lim would know.
He comments here sometimes...