No Bags On Feet!

Our family trip to Bilbao, in 2003, started off warm and sunny:

So we have arrived in Bilbao. It is 36 degrees and sunny here — like we magically teleported ahead by 2 months into summer.

But it was all rain from there; the next day:

We set out on our snacking mission at about 7.30h. About 15 minutes in, it started to rain. Hard. Fast. Wet. We sought shelter under the canopies of shops. Somehow Oliver, by placing his fingers in the lowered shutters in front of a chi chi clothing store, caused an alarm to go off. We left that storefront quickly. Eventually, growing ever more tired and wet, we ambled into Cafe Iruna. This joint was jumping, apparently busy not only from the Sunday evening crowd, but also because of special events surrounding its 100th anniversary.

And the day after that:

When we emerged an hour later, the skies had opened. Fortunately we had purchased an umbrella earlier in the day. Unfortunately, our ‘one umbrella should be fine’ theory proved naive, and Catherine and I got drenched while Oliver hung onto the umbrella, for dear life, in his stroller. A thirty minute dash later, and we arrived soaked to the skin at out hotel.

And the day after that:

Today it rained, again, and our spirit was slightly diminished as a result. We made the best of it all, though, and took the wonderful Bilbao subway out to the edge of town where we rode across the river in a giant car carrying gondola, walked up the side of the opposite town in the pouring rain, walked back down along the ocean in the pouring rain, and returned, in the pouring rain, to Bilbao. Where it is pouring rain.

The trip wasn’t our first one as a family, but it was the first one where we set out to structure ourselves as a lean, mean, travelling machine. We had two suitcases, a car seat (with backpack straps on it), and a tiny umbrella stroller, with all its helpful rain-protecting accessories left at home to cut down on our travel weight.

This meant that when the skies opened and the rain started to fall in Bilbao, we were woefully unprepared, both for keeping the adults dry and for keeping Oliver dry. Our ultimate solution was to use an El Corte Inglés department store shopping bag as a makeshift set of rain pants, along with a tiny lightweight rain jacket:

Photo of Oliver in an umbrella stroller with a shopping bag on his feet.

Oliver absolutely hated wearing the bag on his feet, something that culminated in him crying out, at the top of his lungs, “NO BAGS ON FEET.”

If not perhaps his first words, certainly his first EXCLAMATION! in the form of a sentence.


I love receiving mail. It seems like magic, an envelope put in a box on the other side of the world shows up in a box up the street. All for a couple of dollars.

We received a comforting sizzle of holiday mail, with some truly lovely stamps. My two favourite were these, a bicycle stamp from The Netherlands and a colourful quartet of stamps from Ukraine.

South Indian-Style Mac and Cheese

My late friend and colleague John Pierce codified his mother-in-law’s macaroni and cheese recipe and it’s online at I made it for supper tonight, and it’s as good as John described it. Just the thing for a cold, wet winter’s night.

The big revelation for me: macaroni and cheese is really macaroni and milk and cheese. Leave out the milk and you’re just making cheesy pasta. 


My experiment printing light-on-dark with my Golding Jobber № 8 letterpress finished up last week, and I’ve given the cards that resulted a couple of extra days to dry; they are now available for sale in the Queen Square Press shop.

Letterpress ink is generally quite transparent, and so simply printing yellow-on-black was going to result in something too faint for my tastes; I attempted to address this by printing first with opaque white ink, letting the cards dry, and then overprinting with yellow. The result is very interesting: the GLIMPSE looks different from different angles, something you can see quite clearly in the photo here. Sometimes it’s very yellow, sometimes it’s reflective to the point of looking silver.

All the various glimpses seem appropriate, given that my idea was to capture the zeitgeist, the tentative peek at the end of the pandemic.

Group of black cards, printed in yellow with upper case GLIMPSE, on a wooden table.

The Return of the Cucumber

Cucumbers were really the only food that Catherine truly abhorred. As a result, I lived in a cucumber-free household for 28 years; it was as if cucumbers went extinct in 1992.

This week, as part of my weekly online Charlottetown Farmers’ Market order, I added an Atlantic Grown Organics cucumber, and I’ve built cucumber into our last two suppers. Wow. Fantastic.

All hail the cucumber, back from extinction.

Sorting the Zoom Gallery View

This Zoom forum thread about being able to story gallery view provides a fascinating look into the many people, from teachers to dancers to actors to game developers, for whom this feature would be a big improvement.

I noticed that, after a recent update, my Zoom did, indeed, allow me to drag people around gallery view; what I didn’t know is that if the host does this, then the order can be deployed for everyone:

Your custom order will be seen only by you, or the host can deploy their custom view to all participants. This order can be released and the order will revert to the default.

Rusty Washer Paint Fix

Our five year old LG washing machine started rusting last year, under the detergent drawer. Initially I treated this as the start of an inevitable, unstoppable process of decay, but I decided, instead, to see what I could do about nipping the rust in the bud.

I went to Home Hardware and picked up some sandpaper, some painters tape, and a can of glossy white rust paint. I stripped the rusty area down to bare metal, finished cleaning it with vinegar, and then masked the area with the tape and plastic.

The spray paint took a bit of getting used to, and I started off painting much too close, but I quickly learned my lesson. I ended up applying three thin coats, 20 minutes apart. I removed the tape while the paint was still tacky, and then waited 48 hours before reassembling the washer.

The result isn’t gallery quality, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. And the rust is stopped in its tracks. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get more than the 7 years we got out of the last washer.