chanter_greenie: a house and road blanketed in snow (Wisconsin winter: buried in snay)
[personal profile] chanter_greenie
It's been too long, and... well reasons, and I said what the heck, why not? Have an orange!verse slice of life snippet, or rather several, somewhat listed. No warnings, save allusions to not-so-pleasant things happening to people offscreen. None of those allusions are detailed. 2054 words.



Things that are just about essential at the safehouse in Brampton:

*The hot water heater

It may be a little older than some models out there, but it gets the job done, which mostly keeps assorted resident and transitory people from freezing in the shower or doing their dishes in a sinkful just about straight from the Arctic, which is plenty good enough for everyone. The day it finally poops out, says Sandy, he'll fix it himself or get drenched in ice water trying.

"Right," says a chuckling Leigh, "and then you'll call me or Lise or Camilo or somebody to come save you from the frozen torrent." Sandy snorts with laughter and agrees, "Probably," through his own giggles.

*The coffee pot

There've been enough mug-clutching people, local and non, around the kitchen table and in the living room over the years to tell this tale quite thoroughly. Quite colourfully, too.

Pierre, for one, is perfectly cheerful about being all but banned from tinkering with the thing when he visits. To quote reliable sources i.e. just about everybody else who more than occasionally passes through Brampton, that happened after the three successive dishwater batches and the incident with the scoopful of grounds in the reservoir. "No shame over here," Pierre says airily. "The one was a fff--foul-up, acch! Sorry. Almost forgot there's kids in the room. Anyway the one was me fouling up. I can't deny it or at least, I can't deny it convincingly! As for the others, it's not that mine tastes like washing up water, it's that everybody else's coffee's too strong! I've told 'em a million times. I'll stick to tea, thanks. You leave tea in the pot overnight, it doesn't taste like liquid pencil eraser dust the next day." On the heels of that description comes a squawk of "Ewwww!" from one of the aforementioned kids in the room.

For her part, Jilly takes the blame for the water glugged all over the kitchen counter and onto the throw rug but no, she did not crack the old carafe, that was all Gloria's fault for swerving out of the way at almost the last second and making her, Jilly, wobble and drop it, so it categorically was not her making the mess this time. What? Anyway she, Jilly, cleaned up the glass in the floor, and at least the carafe was empty! Oh, and her mother's Greek coffee is the best in the world and her yia-yia's is in second place. Just so you know.

For not having grown up drinking all that much coffee--according to him, both his parents thought it and, especially, the instant American variety that came out of a jar was horrible--Sothy's isn't bad. At least it mostly tastes like the genuine article.

Speaking of genuine articles, depending on who you ask, both Eric's and Lise's formuli for brewing the stuff are either abysmal and disgusting (Pierre said abysmal, and he admits it) or deliciously strong. "Yeah, like a nuclear explosion," opines a grinning Terry as he salutes Lise with his mug. "Yeuuuugh," mutters Squirt with a shudder that might or might not be entirely theatrical.

*The teapot

Coffee's great, but the other pot has supplied its share of full mugs to the desperate masses too, and not just to the strict tea drinkers in the crowd – Meg, Mary, Pierre. Doc|Twan-Bernard and Sister can split a pot of whatever variety between themselves on long nights. Squirt takes a leaf - a tea leaf, a paper leaf, maybe both, whichever - out of both his parents' books and mixes black tea with a dollup of raspberry jam, much to Adrian's voluble disgust. Quinn doses his occasional mugful with, so Helen says, about three spoonfuls too much sugar, Helen herself is a camomile fan, and Carlos takes the credit every time there's something like oolong in the cabinet with the rest of the tea things.

As for those tea things (and coffee things, and hot chocolate things, because any categories there might've initially been got blurred together almost the moment they were created), they seem to have a habit of multiplying from if not week to week, then at least month to month.

The three little silver spoons with the hints of tarnish and the leafy patterns in their handles belonged, so she's proud to say, to Leigh's Cape Breton grandmother. The tea egg with the Khmer characters embossed around the top is Sothy's, and when that ended up in the cupboard rather than at his little place in Collingwood no one entirely knows for sure. Sandy picked up the low-sided sugar bowl painted with pink and yellow flowers at an estate sale in Muskoka. It just seemed right.

The two handfuls of little fancy-bordered square side plates, four in one crystal grey stack and four in the other, came from a Boxing Day morning's browsing years ago in Ville de Québec, and Anna's usually sober mouth quirks to, for her, a positively whimsical degree when she tells that story. The tea tin with the red and gold Chinese dragon on the label has a generous palmful of pennies in it, just in case, so that's probably what's rattling if someone bangs into the cabinetry from the side. The mismatched set of stainless steel serving spoons, for fishing reluctant teabags out of mugs, you know, that sorta thing, came from Jennifer over in Winnipeg. Sooner put to use somewhere than put to use nowhere, and if nobody minds the burr along the handle of one where it almost went down her auntie's kitchen garbage disposal--sorry, folks--all the better.

And mugs, with or without teabags in their depths? Mugs there are. The lavender purple one with the Radio Canada Internacional inscription in vibrant blue, white and red inks is Quinn's, on loan to Brampton's residents by virtue of good behavior, and if anyone drops it, let it be known he'll take his retribution straight out of their hide. The otherwise plain white one with the colorfully imprinted topographical map of the nation is Sandy's, and he'd really rather no one dropped that either, please. He's pretty fond of it. It was his father's. The midnight black one, the forest green one, and the Toronto Maple Leafs one with the chip out of the handle are all jumble sale finds of Helen's, bought with purpose just after the network of safehouses became a thing. The Bluejays one is a spare of Meg's that she donated to the cause, and the sky blue one with the rose polka dots all over it is Leigh's, given to her by a colleague, not a parent, Terry.

The clear, palm-sized cream pitcher belonged to M.J.'s wife. She left it behind when they cracked up, either forgotten or just not needed enough to bother taking along, and once everybody got together and started doing the friendly assisting thing for refugees, he thought... well. Somebody ought to make use of it. It wasn't doing anybody any good sitting in the back of his dish cupboard getting dusty, that's for sure.

*The two dedicated spare bedrooms on the second floor, the mostly-converted, still has a desk and a couple cardboard boxes along one wall bedroom on the first, and occasionally the chesterfield in the living room. Enough said.

*The washrooms, one upstairs, the other downstairs. Very much enough said.

*The radio

Yes, yes. When hanging around this crowd, asking 'Which radio?' is fair. But if you're in Brampton, more than any other, The Radio is the big one in the living room, the unit in the open-fronted wooden cabinet down at the end of the chesterfield further from the kitchen door. Or closer to the back hallway door and the upstairs staircase, depending on which way you're going.

It's twenty years old at least, judging by the thin sheets of silver-grey metal plating on its front and sides, the fabric over its speaker and the series of smallest-to-biggest twirly knobs beside its - two fingers wide and about as long - frequency display. For an older setup, it's got decent FM reception - not great, but passable - and the AM is downright nice. The shortwave is a bit patchy, but it gets the major broadcasters well enough, and it doesn't sprout birdies all over the CB and pirate frequencies every time someone turns on an upstairs light and that, says Leigh, is a blessing in about three ways. You won't get an exceptional performance out of it if you try to transmit, but you can make yourself heard, if you have to.

There are fingertip-sized letters stamped beneath its controls, embossed metal wording that a fair few refugee children have traced, sounded out, asked about or, in one memorable instance, tried and failed to scratch with a fingernail. "H-E-L-I-O-S / CA.

If Quinn and Jilly get into a battle over which station to listen to, stand clear or else risk an oof!--collision when somebody makes a dive for the tuner on a split second's opportunity. If the radio picks up a call the sender designates as 'important', 'urgent', 'immédiat', 'priority', 'oh-oh, écoute, grouille-toé!' or 'Hey Brampton, I dunno if you copy me but this's an emergency', ditto.

*The back door.

There's a pretty fundamental difference between the cell's two largest safehouses. That is to say, permanence, and not in the way some people would think.

The thing is, Helen might stay at the place in Windsor for half the year, but she lives in, votes in, and by her own easy admission loves Saskatoon, and that's before her husband and son are factored into things. Yes, the Windsor place is unquestionably Helen's domain, but the Brampton one is also Leigh and Sandy's home.

For Leigh and Sandy, home includes a half-dozen (love them or hate them) pictures on the walls, snow emergency calls from the school district at five A.M., a scuffed-up but serviceable black station wagon in the driveway, a non-talking, squeaky parakeet in a cage, and a couple of big friendly dogs bouncing around the yard and through the living room and snoring in the hall. And within that last one lies a little bit of a problem from time to time.

It's not like that, before you ask. There's never been any question whether or not these are gentle dogs, any more than there's ever been question that Leigh and Sandy are fundamentally gentle people. But even if she's well-trained not to jump on potential new friends, between the leaning, the spinning around, and that powerful tail, a greeting from a chocolate Labrador is still just about enough to topple Céline, Meg or anyone of similar size or smaller right onto their backside. And an exuberant golden retriever bounding up to you with a knotted rope tug toy in his mouth can look very much like a dog charging you, especially - not only, but especially - if you come from a certain kind of situation.

Then you get folks who didn't have dogs around growing up (Pierre) or pets at all (Sothy), and then there are visitors with allergies (Lise), and sometimes the people passing through include really little kids, and maybe someone's just never going to be entirely comfortable with dogs even after they learn to read canine body language (Sister), and and--

Sometimes, "Sandy, could you let the dogs out into the back yard and then shut the door for a few minutes?" is just plain the best way to handle a given situation.

*The front door.

This one - give me your battered, your bleeding, your tired from a long day in class, your shocked into silence, your snowy boots all over the doormat, your laughing children, your emergency run's safe end, your grocery-laden friends - needs no explanation at all.

*The--thump! cranky circuit breaker way in the--thump! back of everything--thump! down in the cellar. When it's able to put the lights back on, that is, which can't--thump! happen if the levers for the fuses decide to stick--clack! "Gotcha."

Leigh emerges, triumphant, into the re-lit kitchen with dust in her hair, dirt grey smudges all over the fingers of one hand, and cobwebs on one sleeve.

It's at least a full five seconds before she sneezes.


Notes are important, too:

*In the interest of full disclosure, when I was growing up, we had a radio very much like the one described here, only it was on a metal shelving unit, not in a wooden cabinet, and it didn't sport any embossed lettering; that was the television. Helios is meant to be something like a Canadian branch of local reality's Sylvania, hence the /CA indicator.

*Yia-yia is Greek; according to Jilly, her grandma's coffee is second only to her mother's.

*Écoute, grouille-toé! basically means hey, listen, hurry up! If someone's in a nasty situation and drops formality while trying to raise someone on air, you might hear this one. The rest of the Quebecois translates fairly plainly.

*Yes, if you leave certain varieties of inexpensive coffee in the pot overnight and then heat it up the next day, it really can taste like liquid pencil eraser dust. Bleh!

Date: 2019-01-22 06:27 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
We had a Heathkit amp-and-tuner pair my da built, with a Gerard turntable and Acoustic Research AR-1's, all cabinetted in rich oak... the sound was so warm that Mancini's The Music Of Hawaii[sic] made a winter day feel like the beach...

Anything in my cup left overnight gets _tossed_. Tea or coffee, fresh is best!

* I'm *picky* about the `okina. Hawai`i. It _is_ a letter.
Edited (spelling explanation) Date: 2019-01-22 06:29 pm (UTC)

Date: 2019-01-22 07:07 pm (UTC)
cmcmck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cmcmck
That just has to be Quebec French as I speak European French relatively fluently and don't even recognise the phrase! :o)

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