Monday, December 24, 2012

Italy, Poland and Back Again

Oh my.  I have a heart full to bursting.  What a weekend it's been and we're only midway through Sunday!

Friday was a delicious, multicourse extravaganza hosted by our dear friends, B & G.  They generously thanked everyone who helped with their August wedding by having us all over for an Italian dinner - featuring platters of proscuitto di parma, taleggio, pecorino, a rabbit pappardelle, an arugala salad, a slow-roasted pork shoulder with root vegetables, beans, and pannetone and panforte for dessert.  Along with different wines to pair with each course and the emergence of midnight grappa!  It was unreal!  We sat and dined and talked public policy and laughed and joke deep into the night.  The Big Yam passed out and we tucked him into our hosts bed and trundled home bleary eyed at 1am.  We had a Sleep Away Camp night because we knew it was going to be easier than trying to get him down in his crib.

The Big Yam opted to wake at his usual time (7am) so we were hurrrrrting all day yesterday.  I can't even tell you how hurting.  Not enough sleep by far.  Then we went to Momma D's for a Christmas brunch with her sister and Cousin Yeti and Cousin M.  Then, just when we thought we'd be able to nap while the Big Yam went down, I made the inexorably bad decision to try to "quickly" fix our leaky kitchen faucet.  DISASTER.  I took it apart, but then couldn't put it back together again.  Then, the valves under the sink started leaking, and then, what had been a slow drip, turned into a full throttle rush of water from the faucet.  So I called our drain guy, who as it turns out, only does drains.  He recommend a plumber, but when I called the plumber he didn't pick up.  So I went down the list of Homestars.  Settled on Mr. Rooter because I thought they were reputable and they could come right away.  So, instead of napping, I then had to DEAL WITH A TRADE.  WORST!

I should have gone with my gut.  Mr. Rooter is a scam of scams.  Basically, it's a big organization that sub-contracts n00bs who get to wear the uniform and give people the impression that uniform = experience.  This guy was the worst!  He came in and was like, "You need a whole new faucet.  It's old.  And I need to re-do the pipes that lead to the faucet."  The cost?  Replacement of faucet (where I purchase the faucet - just the labour) - $250+ tax.  Then, to fix the pipes underneath ($150+tax).  So suddenly, I'm looking at another trip to Home Depot to buy a new faucet and $400.  So I put my Chinese hat on and worked on him for a solid fifteen minutes.  Me: "How about you bill me for the pipe fixing and then I give you $100 cash and you fix the faucet and leave it off the books" (and various permutations of this).  To his credit (and this is the ONLY thing I'll give to this guy), he wouldn't take my under-the-table haggling deal.  So, I was like, since I have to pay Mr. Rooter a "just to show up" charge of $70 anyway, at the VERY least just put my faucet back together again so I can use it and I'll deal with the mini-drip.  So he stayed in my kitchen for a G-D HOUR taking up time when I could have been napping, and at the end of it...DIDN'T PUT IT BACK TOGETHER PROPERLY.  When we turned the valves back on, the water was still gushing out.  I was so pissed!!!

So I called my original guy back and he was willing to come to our house, from AJAX on a SUNDAY, and he fixed both problems in an hour, and charged me $180 total.  Lesson learned.  NEVER, EVER go with the big guys, and go with the the little dude who has a sense of craft.  The upshot is, now I have a plumber and a drain guy who I LOVE.  Seriously, drain guy called me back yesterday afternoon just to make sure I'd found someone.  What a mesnch!

Even though we were feeling very, very, very rough, we pulled it together and went to S & P's for S's annual Polish Christmas dinner.  UNREAL.  10 people, in their apartment, served the following:

- Polish charcuterie - smoked sausages, cured meats, pickles, rye bread, and this yogurt/soft cheese spread that I'm addicted to
- fried mountain cheese on rye bread
- pickled herring on buttered rye (this pickled herring was sooooo good!  S gave me some to take home, because she's a sweetheart)
- cubes of chicken & dill aspic (this was like chicken soup, but in jellied form - cold and refreshing)
- a wild mushroom soup with sour cream and dill (the best mushroom soup I've ever had), served with little puff pastry wrapped mushroom puree bites
- perogies
- potato salad
- pork roast stuffed with prunes with mashed potatoes, and grated beets
- assorted Polish sweets served with vodka & blackcurrant syrup

And I think I'm forgetting a course.


Oh no you di'n't!!!  One woman!  Doing all that!  For TEN PEOPLE!!!  It was unreal to the max.

I'm still dreaming of that pickled herring (I'm eating the stuff she gave me for breakfast tomorrow) and thinking longingly of that mushroom soup.

Plus, we did a Secret Santa exchange and then people gave the Big Yam sweet presents and S & P sent us home with little bags of Polish candies.

I can't even.

The conversation was so good!  We talked about animal rights and voting with your dollar and racism and other lighter topics.  A debate about whether the majority of stars are orbited by planets (which was the Dotytron's position) resulted in us tweeting Neil deGrasse Tyson for an answer (we haven't gotten one yet).  We talked about unicorns.  It was stellar.

Again, we got home super-late (for a night out with the Big Yam) - another 1am.  But wonders of wonders - the Big Yam slept in until 8am and that extra hour made all the difference.  This afternoon we have a Christmas party at our neighbours house with the kiddies.

I also forgot to mention that on Thursday I went for the Hart House Holiday Buffet lunch with MHui and G and it was the best!!!  Just look:

I mean, REALLY.  How can you NOT want to eat there?  They also had a fire going in their giant fireplace and they were projecting snow on the walls for an extra Hogwarts-y touch.

Dr. Rei and Hanbo came by and spoiled the Big Yam rotten with a book of Aesop's Fables and a mini-Gandalf.  G got the Big Yam a cute board book about the moon and MHui got the Big Yam this adorable Chewbacca stuffy that makes Chewbacca sounds:

As an aside: nerdiest collection of presents, ever!  Love it.  

That's not even counting the train and bowling set from SMckay and this cute wooden doll that S gave to T and this cute wooden car he got last night.  It's all too much, really.

My heart is full to bursting thinking of how lucky we are to be raising a kid who is loved by our community of friends and loved ones and how lucky we are to be able to count this extended network of smart, funny, talented, kind, and diverse people as our dear friends.


Hilarious: while our plumber (who is an irie dude from one of the French-speaking Caribbean islands) was working on our kitchen sink, the Big Yam, clutching Gandalf up there, went up to him and said, "Look, it's Gandalf" and our plumber was all like :|

So good!

Sunday breakfast: brisket sammies with cheddar, topped with a fried egg, and tater tots.  F**king love tater tots.

Tonight for dinner we had fusilli with Italian sausage in a rosé sauce and arugala salad.  We chased these with cookies and milk.


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