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“People in counties east of Ottawa should shut their doors and windows, says Chief Medical Officer of Health”

Quebec is burning. More than fifty fires going strong, burning up all that very valuable Quebec lumber. I didn’t notice it at first, even though my bedroom windows were open all night long. But when I left the house today to run to the bulk food store and to investigate new stoves, the smell was unbelievable. It was hard to believe these fires were happening so far away and yet it smelled like they were just down the road.

It’s been a dry, hot summer so far, stingy on rain and heavy on guilty-pleasure sun exposure. I hear the clunky, loud buzzing of a neighbor’s ancient low-end air conditioner. Why? The smoke has blown in the other direction, the air is cool and not at all clammy, and this is Canada, a land where mountains of snow will keep you from opening your windows and letting in fresh air for far too much of the year. Breathe it in. 

And then there’s the range mission. Do people really call them ranges? It sounds like something only Bob Barker would say when one was included in a Showcase Showdown. I’ve never been a part of a purchase of a new stove before—I was too young to put my two cents in when my mother went stove-shopping, and until I came here I always rented. Stoves have always been someone else’s responsibility. When I pulled down oven doors and slid my hands over control panels and test-turned knobs, I felt that scary grown-up feeling. It’s a big commitment. A “major appliance” that has to last years. The source of thousands of dinners and big weekend breakfasts, those pots of oatmeal and stacks of pancakes. And every single brand, every model, has shrill Internet press calling it a lemon, the worst range of all the ranges. At some point, you have to take a deep breath, spin around in a circle, point, and say, “That one.”

Listening to: Andrea Wittgens, “Comme tu Veux”