2.04.2019

making the move from plastic to glass food storage

Pyrex!
I bought these! I love them!

For the longest time, I've had a very large collection of plastic food storage containers. Allan and I have always brought most of our meals to work -- for healthy eating, for convenience (I'd rather not spend any part of my meal break foraging), and to economize. I also tend to cook in batches, plus of course there are always leftovers.

Eons ago, when I bought all the plastic, I didn't know it was unhealthy -- that the polymers break down and enter your food. I knew plastics were bad for the environment, but I thought if I kept the same ones for a long time, it was not as disposable. Plus I commuted by subway to my day-job, with a lot of walking on both ends. Even if I had known that glass food storage existed (which I didn't), it would have been too heavy to carry.

More recently I learned that all this lovely plastic has been leaching into our food for all these years. Yuck. Plus the containers have gotten old and ugly. I was torn between the desire to switch to glass food storage and my attempt to not replace things that are still useable. So I held off for several more years.

Now, in our new small-town lifestyle, we are cooking more, so I'm using a lot of plastic containers, and they are squicking me out. I gave myself permission to replace them. After all, I bought them more than 15 years ago! And I'm not even throwing them away: they will have a new life storing supplies for library craft programs. (I am single-handedly de-cluttering and organizing the Port Hardy Library!)

The next question was: Rubbermaid or Pyrex? Both are known for good quality. Both are safe for dishwasher, microwave, and oven (although not in rapid succession). Both have lots of nice sizes and options. Reading reviews online, it seemed somewhat of a toss-up. This wrap-up at Wirecutter finally tipped the scale to Pyrex.

I bought two of the set pictured above -- one 7-cup, two 4-cups, two 2-cups, and 2 one-cups (times two). Each size has a different colour lid, which is good for organization. I purchased them from Wayfair.ca, my current go-to for online housewares.

I can't do anything about all the carcinogens we've already ingested, but at least we can slow down the overall load. Plus I'm an organization freak: I love containers! I've just received two big boxes of shiny new toys! I find that having nice kitchen tools makes cooking more enjoyable.

thank you, nanaimo! the ndp government survives

Thank you, Nanaimo!

With all the personal blathering I've been doing, I forgot to write about something very important! There was a by-election here in BC: a seat in Nanaimo would determine if the coalition government -- the balance of power a mere one seat! -- would survive.

Translation for USians. In the last provincial election in BC, neither of the two major parties -- the NDP (you remember the NDP, right?) or the Liberals -- received enough seats to form a government. For the first time in Canadian history, the "balance of power" was held by the Green Party. The Greens agreed to support the NDP, so the NDP was able to form a minority government. It's not actually a coalition, but in order to stay in power, the NDP must work with the Greens.

To make things more confusing for Americans, the BC Liberal Party, which was defeated, is very conservative. The word liberal here is closer to the UK meaning of the word than to the US meaning -- not flaming right-wingers, but something like a moderate Republican. Kind of like Bill and Hillary Clinton.

More recently in BC, the provincial representative (called an MLA) from Nanaimo -- right here on Vancouver Island -- was elected mayor of that city. He was NDP, so that should be good for the residents of Nanaimo. But it meant that there would be a by-election -- an off-cycle election, for that one seat.

There have been a lot of issues on the Island -- the same social issues that haunt towns and cities everywhere, caused by governments' failure to control the cost of housing, and our society's willingness to allow the most basic human need, shelter, to be subject to the profit system. Add inadequate supports for mental health and addictions, and a lack of good jobs, and you have the usual crises of homelessness, overdoses, crime, and fear.

The difference here, I'm told, is that on Vancouver Island, these issues have been denied and ignored for a long time. Now people are finally talking about reality. Progressive people were concerned that there might be a conservative backlash, and this by-election would be just in time to reflect it.

Apparently Nanaimo voters are smarter than that.

The results:
NDP 49% (10,538 votes)
Liberal 40.47% (8,665 votes)
Green 7.38% (1,579 votes)
Conservative 2.06% (442 votes)
The Vancouver Island Party 0.7% (100 votes)
Libertarian 0.40% (86 votes)

Damn, I love living in a place where the Conservative Party is irrelevant! Yeah, I know the BC Liberals are conservative, but after nine years of Stephen Harper and with Doug Ford destroying what's left of Ontario, these numbers are just so beautiful.

(I looked up the fringe Vancouver Island Party, which wants to make the Island a separate province. Someone should tell their web designer about visual accessibility. No text over images!)

Vancouver Island seats in the provincial government:
NDP 10
Green 3
Liberal 1

2.02.2019

"use it in good health"

When I was growing up, my grandparents and other older relatives used an expression, "Use it in good health," or a variant, "Wear it in good health". 

This was said when you bought something that you were very excited about, or received a wonderful gift, or made a major purchase. If you brought home a new coat that you loved, and tried it on to show her, along with "It's beautiful," or "It looks great on you," my mother would say, "Wear it in good health." 

Another variant is, "You should wear it in good health." The you should part is a wish or a prayer, similar to the more formal (and religious-sounding) may you. It expresses a desire. In "wear it in good health," the you should or may you is understood. 

Tangent: there is also a sarcastic version of you should. "Maybe the Democrats will grow spines and vote against this war." "You should live so long." This is roughly equivalent to hell freezing over.

Another tangent: there is also the Jewish you shouldn't. "Bring a snack, you shouldn't faint from hunger," meaning, bring a snack so that you won't be hungry. This is often an exaggeration meant to be humorous.

So when I recently told my mother about our new car, she said, "Use it in good health."

I've always assumed this was a Jewish-culture thing, but I actually don't know. Perhaps it's even more specific, a Brooklyn-Jewish thing. Or perhaps it's not Jewish at all, perhaps it's generational. Do you know this expression? Did your family from [somewhere] use it?

I know most people will answer on Facebook and not here. But if you could leave a comment here so it's captured on this blog, I would appreciate it.

About the saying itself, it's one of those idioms I heard without ever thinking about. With my mother now the only person in my life who would use these old expressions, I sometimes hear them with fresh ears. I love this one. It acknowledges the importance to you of this material object, and at the same time, puts it in perspective. The coat is beautiful, but only if you have the good health to enjoy it.

1.29.2019

in which we find ourselves the owners of an suv

Add this to the list of things I said I'd never do, along with colour my hair and move to the west coast while my mother is alive. My hair, once a lovely honey blond, became a drab brown. My mom moved to the west coast first! And we need a bigger vehicle that can handle rural road conditions.

And so, we own an SUV.

In 22 years in New York City, I didn't own a car at all. We bought a new hatchback wagon in 2005 and a well-used compact in 2017. And yesterday we bought a big thing: a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander with two sets of tires (including new snow tires) and 88K kms on the odometer.

As we were shopping, both online and in person, I saw that I really prefer a boxy shape, an SUV that looks more like a small truck -- Subaru Forester, Toyota 4Runner, Volkswagen Tiguan. But the car has to be in good condition and within our budget, and we didn't see any of those that fit.

A 2016 Tiguan did turn my head, but the payments would have been a big stretch (who needs that!), plus the vehicle wouldn't actually give us much more cargo and passenger space than our compact Kia Spectra!

There were also lots of nice-looking red Kia Souls. If we were a two-car family and had one small and one large vehicle, I'd want that red Soul for myself... but that's not us.

In the end, it came down availability, affordability, and an appearance we could live with. So here it is, the third car we have owned, with our new BC plates.




1.27.2019

port hardy in photos

Here are some photos of our town and the area surrounding it.

Our lovely little rental house is an endangered species, a ranch, all on one floor. Excellent for my problematic knees and ankles.



It would have made more sense to build the deck on this side, where there's a lot more space and still plenty of privacy.





Instead, the deck is in the back, up against a neighbour's house -- which I'm guessing was built after ours. But these neighbours are rarely home, they are usually off exploring in their gigantic RV. And we are very happy to have a deck!




Diego wants to play.



Our street -- looking towards the cul-de-sac, the forest.



Our street looking towards the main road. Note the mountains in the distance.



Here's the view from around the corner, on an (extremely rare) clear day.



Less than a five-minutes drive, we are in town. Here's my library!




Downstairs from the Library is the Port Hardy Museum. They've been closed for the winter, but I'm looking forward to working with them.



The Library and Museum are on Market Street, Port Hardy's cute little main street.




Guido's is a local landmark -- an excellent cafe, a lovely small bookstore and gift shop, and a large and extensive shop filled with the work of local artists and artisans. It's the only place like it in our town, and it's an absolute gem.




This restaurant has two names -- the original name, Captain Hardy's -- which most people still use, even though it's no long the name of the place -- and the new name, Fire Chefs. Captain Hardy's had a long history here, and the new owners very smartly kept one of the signs. The food is amazing. I keep trying to order something different, but when you've found the most perfect fish-and-chips -- from halibut, no less -- it's hard to say no.





There are lots of murals in the area. The one above is next to Fire Chefs. The one below is the library and museum building.




Like Guido's, Macandale's is a local landmark.



Unfortunately a lot of Port Hardy looks like this. This is what it means to live in a "resource town," tied to extraction industries. A mill closes, a mine is abandoned, a fishing run is depleted -- and this happens. It's boom or bust.





But facing the other way, you see this. You're never far from mountains and water here.


The Christian Fellowship offers a free, hot -- and reportedly delicious -- breakfast every morning. They serve anywhere from 30 to 150 people each day. They are good people, who treat everyone with dignity and respect, and aren't fishing for converts.



Here's our little post office. There's no door-to-door delivery here. That's no problem for us, as we live five minutes away, but it's definitely an issue for more rural folks. The post-office workers are super friendly and helpful.

That's Allan and Diego going to pick up one of our many packages. It's Sunday -- on weekdays there are always lots of trucks outside and people running in and out.




The sign says mall, but it's really it's just the Save On Foods (supermarket), a pharmacy, a subway, and a lot of empty space. There's also a job bank and some other service agencies inside.



There are a few chain stores here.




This is the intersection at Rt. 19 -- the road down to Campbell River and the rest of the island. You can see our only fast-food restaurant, and our two gas stations.



This guy is everywhere. There are no traffic lights in the whole town! This intersection is known as "the four-way". See the bay and mountains in the distance.




This is a First Nations-owned hotel and restaurant. The food is supposed to be great; we are looking forward to going. I'm planning a separate post about the restaurants of the area, but I'm waiting until we've been to them all once. The options are limited, but so far all the food has been really good.



We heard there was Chinese food in town, but we couldn't find it. Along with several other things I was looking for, I was told, "It's at the old mall". We looked everywhere but still nothing. Finally I asked someone where this "old mall" is. Turns out it's between our place and the main street, but well off the road. It's more properly called a ghost mall, although it is trying to make a comeback.



The Old Mall is on a hill; this is the view from the parking lot.



Of course there's a mural.



This is the Chinese restaurant. There is supposed to be a Filipino grocery store in the mall, but I never found it. There is a nails/beauty place, a couple of kiosks, and not much else. But there was a lot of construction. I'll check back on their progress.





I was very surprised to see a lovely little cafe in the middle of the ghost mall.



On Rt. 19, as you enter the Port Hardy District, you pass a group of these historical plaques. They are really nicely done. Eventually we will visit everything listed here. Five of these communities are home to my libraries. Alert Bay, a First Nations community, also has its own library.

Vancouver Island North:



Port Alice:




Alert Bay:




Port McNeill:



Sointula:

Don't you love tourism history? Those "hardy Scandanavian immigrants"
were striking coal miners! They left out the best part!



Sayward:




Woss:



Telegraph Cove:




Coal Harbor:


And our own Port Hardy:





Some other random facts about the area.






Back in town again: the bay is steps away from Port Hardy's main street. Every time we're there we see at least one bald eagle.











Every town in Canada has a cenotaph, but this one also honours First Nations people who died in the empire's wars.











Here are some views of the bay south of town, and also Storey's Beach, a great place to picnic or take your dog for a run. On the way back from Storey's Beach, we turned off at a sign for wildlife viewing. It was an estuary, said to be excellent environments to see migrating birds -- and animals looking for a migrating-bird dinner. We didn't see either, but it was a lovely walk.











Storey's Beach:















Pretty nice spot to wait for a ferry. This boat goes to Bella Coola, Haida Gwaii, and Prince Rupert, on BC's Inside Passage.






There are huge mountains in the distance, but they usually look like this.





I'll do separate photo posts for each of the towns or sites we visit.