February 2008


This is the train that held up my trip

Here are some news articles about the train accident that prevented me from reaching Montreal this week.

Sorry, no English articles, so here’s my summary for my readers who don’t know French.  A CN train had mechanical difficulties near Saint-Janvier-de-Joly and had to be towed.  While they were hooking up another train to it, a 53-year-old CN worker got stuck in those big hooks between cars and was crushed as the second train backed up to the first.  Quebec police were there within minutes followed by the Saint-Janvier volunteer firefighters, but there was nothing they could do.  CN’s police are investigating.  They don’t know yet how he got stuck but foul play is not suspected.

That’s a sad story to have gotten involved in.

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I spoke too soon!  The 15-minute wait turned into 30 minutes, then into an hour, then into two.  Now we`re rolling backward through familiar scenery (we just went through St-Apollinaire again), back to Charny, where they say they`ll transfer us to buses to continue by road to Montreal.

Still, I`m in no rush so this just adds to the fun of the trip.

And snacks and drinks are now free.  🙂

Past the calming dip and rise, dip and rise of the electric lines outside my window is all blowing white snow and trees.  Occasionally we pass a farmhouse or country business.  More occasionally still a town with some beautiful name like Saint-Redempteur, Saint Apollinaire, and Val Alain, filled with small homes with their sloping roofs and the little curve at the bottom. 

We just passed a cemetary headed by a huge cross and a life-size Jesus hanging from it.  I guess the reminder of his death is supposed to comfort us in ours, though I would prefer a symbol of his life instead.

Traveling by train is incredible after all the stress of air travel.  We should do this more often.

There was no line up at the station.  No security checks.  Two minutes after getting out of the cab I was already checked through and just waiting for the train to arrive.  I wasn’t even at the station I’d originally purchased a ticket for, but the agents didn’t bat an eye.  (Imagine buying a plane ticket out of one city and then showing up at another trying to catch a flight!)

When the train arrived everyone was on within a few minutes (no showing your ticket either, at least not until later.)

I have the cheapest fare available but the seats are as wide as first-class on a plane, with tonnes of leg room.  The luggage racks above and below the seats are twice the size of those on a plane.  There are no seatbelts anywhere.  Wifi is available for $9 for 24 hours, and there are even power outlets for every seat.

If you want peaceful, pick train travel.

(Edited later:  Ah, here’s the downside of rail travel:  they just announced a 20-30 minte delay due to a broken freight train ahead of us!  Good thing I’ve got a long layover in Montréal!)

Shana said the other day:

If I have two boys I’ll name one of them after a book of the Bible, like John or Moses or something.  And the other one I’ll name Kingston.

And if I have twins I’ll name both of them Kingston.  Because they’re twins!

Colored Polka Dot Rotini! 

 Yes folks, it’s a recipe!  And I got it out of Reader’s Digest, if you can believe it.  Of course I only used half of their ideas and substituted whatever I wanted for the rest, but that’s pretty normal, right? 

So here it is.  Tricolored Rotini (corkscrew shaped noodles) cooked in coconut milk and spices.  Yum.  I know it looks like a lot of spices, but it still tastes pretty mild so season as desired.  And it really doesn’t take that long to measure out, the hardest part is getting started. 

If you use lentils or chickpeas or another bean, it makes a complete protein with the noodles so that’s a complete meal all in one. 

1 1/2 cups Vegetable/Chicken Broth 

1 cup light coconut milk (as if I ever buy LIGHT anything! use regular, it’s good for you)

1 tsp EACH sugar and ground coriander

1/2 tsp EACH ground cumin and chili powder

1/4 tsp EACH curry powder and ground ginger (I used more curry and less ginger, b/c that’s the way I like it.) 

8 oz (227 g) tricolored rotini pasta, uncooked  (Yes, you can use whatever noodles you have)

1 cup frozen green peas  (or lentils)

1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup dried currants (I used chickpeas, I don’t know what currents are. )

Combine broth, coconut milk, sugar, coriander, cumin, chili powder and ginger.  Bring to a boil.  Add noodles, reduce heat to med-low, cover and simmer for 6 minutes.  Add red peppers, peas, and chickpeas (or whatever colorful things you like and are using).  Simmer 6-7 minutes more until liquid is absorbed and pasta is tender.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 

Sorry, no pictures, we made it last with white spaghetti noodles, and didn’t think to take a picture.  It looked better the first time with the colored corkscrews, but the second time I doubled the curry powder and Nate couldn’t get enough of it. 

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The weather lately has been a bit too much for our poor cardboard thermometer.

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