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January thaw

January 26, 2010

It rained yesterday, like nobody’s business, ruining all our lovely snow and uncovering all the debris we never managed to clean up this fall. Let me remind you that this is January and that, really, we’d all just as soon be skiing. These cruel January thaws just make spring feel that much farther away. Yesterday’s rain yielded today’s flooding and ice jams which tends to raise blood pressure at work along the banks of the Winooski River. And I have to say that that’s pretty much what this week has been like. I sort of wish I’d get the same kind of warning that the weatherman gives on the radio: “This week: expect flooding and ice jams. Do not try to ford high water or otherwise accomplish feats requiring skill or sound presence of mind. This could be bad.”

As just a wee sample of my frame of mind, allow me to present exhibit one. Today at the gym, some very unkind person flagrantly crossed out my name on the sign up sheet for the treadmill and wrote in her own. I’ll be honest, I was torn between sitting down on the floor and sobbing and going over and yanking her sorry ass off the treadmill in indignation. Fortunately, I did neither but you know that stress is creeping up on you when you’re standing in the gym, sweaty and irritated that it’s only Tuesday, and find that someone’s thoughtlessness reduces you to visions of hair pulling and name calling. And then, finally at home and excited because some frames we’d ordered for photos had arrived, I watched my cat calmly squat in the middle of the empty box and pee on it. Yes, it’s shaping up to be one of those weeks, folks. Flooding and ice jams. This could be bad.

It’s been kind of going like that lately. So in a fit of cabin fever and a desperate need to get out of my house, I talked Hubby into a spontaneous drive up to Montreal this weekend. It was such a relief to get out of the house, get a little urban exposure, eat some yummy food. On Saturday, we drove straight to the Jean-Talon Market, my new favorite spot in Montreal, and spent the early afternoon taking photos, eating, and speaking very bad French. We then wallowed in the pool, sauna, and steam room before heading to dinner.

If you ever get to Montreal, I seriously recommend eating at Le Nil Bleu. This is super delicious Ethiopian food and there’s nothing else like it. It’s in the plateau section of town, which was a brisk (Read: freezing. The rain had not yet come.) 20 minute walk from our hotel. And let me digress for a minute to say that I am deeply envious of people who can do this on a regular basis. There is no such possibility at my house. We cannot walk anywhere that’s practical and I have to say that part of my cabin fever lately has come from all the damn time I spend sitting in my car, driving to work especially. So, anyway, I was appreciating the walk, cold as it was.

But the food. The food was truly lovely. The foundation, literally, of the meal is a huge, flat pancake called injera, made of fermented teff flour. On top of this pancake is a whole array of curry-like stews. We had one with yellow lentils, one with chicken with a sauce that was not unlike mole, a spicy-hot beef stew, and lamb and vegetables that was warm and perfumed with herbs. In the middle of all this was a little salad of lettuce, tomato and onion. With this platter, they bring a plate with strips of injera rolled into little scrolls which you unroll and use to scoop up the stew, eating the whole mess with your fingers. There are no utensils, which I have always loved after living in India. And when you’ve eaten all your stew, you thriftily eat the injera from the bottom. Pretty neat, eh?

I am sorry to say I have no photos of this meal. As we set out for dinner that night, I considered bringing my camera and elected not to. I then immediately found a million things I wanted to shoot. I will learn someday. But in lieu of that, allow me to share some other photos from Montreal. And along with it, my sincere hope that your week is warm and dry with no ice jams in sight.

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