It’s no secret, Mark is pretty special. He hears that all the time!
My brother-in-law is an outdoor enthusiast who seems happiest when paddling one of his restored wooden canoes on Georgean Bay, or down the Gatineau River with his two favourite women on board – his lovely daughter, Lia, now at university, and my sister and his wife, Annie. (Sorry, Mom-Annie, we know you will always be his first true love!) Mark is the type who makes other husbands look bad by being so good. Like the first time we went canoe-camping and he brought me a cup of fresh-perked coffee direct to my tent while I was still cozy in my sleeping bag. This was meant to nudge me awake and to welcome the new day on our first morning on the lake. Who DOES that for a future sister-in-law?
He is a happy, hobby-chef and baker extraordinaire. He’s been known to orchestrate the shredding of a bushel of cabbages for sauerkraut-making come harvest time, and put up dill pickles, beets, olives, and whatever else is loose. He makes the tastiest whiskey marmalade you can sample, even winning a world-renowed Scottish culinary award for it! He bakes the only Christmas fruit cake I will eat and his double banana loaf is to die for. That’s on top of cooking gourmet chicken Marengo, chicken Cacciatore, curry with all the fixings including banana and papadum, melt-in-your-mouth barbeque ribs, and spaghetti Bolognese to please a crowd. And he keeps the family abode humming while his visual artist spouse produces gorgeous works and prepares for exhibits, open-house studio tours, and visiting clients.
He has an eye (and pocket book, one would hope) for industrial design, and he expects only THE BEST equipment in his kitchen and workshop. I recall fondly the replica, hand-made mead-drinking pottery mugs he brought home from Nova Scotia’s Louisbourg Fort (including one as a birthday present for yours truly 😊). And later, when he special-ordered a bunch to replace the ones that inadvertently dropped to the ceramic kitchen floor one at a time. Lukily he takes full responsibility for his butter fingers… And thankfully, I’m not saddled with the said dropsies, as I continue to enjoy wrapping my hands around that lovely, pot-bellied mug every morning, still enjoying my ritualistic yerba-mate 20 years later.
And he has a wicked sense of humour, our Mark does. His one-liners can be jaw-dropping zingers that leave the rest of us speechless, wondering how the heck he comes up with these pointed phrases at lightening speed. Zing! Like the time my husband, an avid cyclist both on road and trail, was light-heartedly complaining about the numerous sewing machines I had lined up in our home. How many machines does a person need to make a garment, he pondered? Or was it in reference to my growing collection of spinning wheels?… In any case, as I desperately wracked my brain for a suitable retort in defence of my textile obsession, my dear brother-in-law pipes up with a question of his own, “How many bicycles to you own, Robert?” I could picture the half-dozen rides hanging in our garage. Whoa! A moment of dead silence preceded the eruption of hoots of laughter and high-fives! Thank you, Mark!
Still on the topic of pastimes, Mark is generous with compliments on my latest fibre creations, noting how they would unquestionably appeal to discrimating buyers. He even inspired me to explore and take up weaving, this from a non-weaver, simply taken by the possibility of a hand-weaving a modern-day ceinture fléchée (voyageur sash). I mentioned in conversation how pricey yarns can be, as are quality fabrics, and the fibres needed for spinning and weaving. (I might convince myself that I am saving money by making, rather than buying, the object of my desires as this greatly appeals to my frugal self, but I’m likely the only one being fooled here.) As for the man who recognizes quality the instant he sees it, Mark summed it up this way, “Hobbies cost money.” Simple and factual. I’ve not questioned my growing stash of tools and materials since. A fact is a fact!
I love this man.