Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Looking for some ideas to make Hallowe'en extra-special?  I have just the suggestion for you!  Here's what you do: wake up stupid-early, and think “Hey! Instead of going back to sleep on my day off, I’m going to jump out of bed and make cinnamon buns!” Take your fave cinnamon bun recipe and go to town - feeling very clever that you remembered, pre-coffee, to proof the yeast!

Decide that you want to experiment with a few mods, as follows. Substitute maple sugar for a bit of the white sugar (about 1/4-1/3 of the total amount.) Toast some walnut pieces and let cool. When spreading the usual filling on the rolled out dough, add the walnuts, and sprinkle a bit more maple sugar on, for good measure. Bake, let cool slightly, drizzle with maple cream. (I got a jar at Rhinebeck, just for this purpose!) Enjoy, again and again!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Death warmed over...

Dad was giving me a hard time the other day for not posting more since I've been back.  But really, I came back and had to jump right into month-end marking and progress reports, and a sooper-secret knitting project, and there has been neither time nor content to make posting worthwhile.

Yesterday, however, was our annual costume contest.  Which meant wearing a costume at school.  Which was totally fun!  I didn't actually make anyone cry this year, but I did freak a few people out.  Good times!

Succulent, cauliflower-like BRRRAAAAIIIIINNNNNSSSSS!!!!!!
I came in second in the teachers' contest - and rightly so: the giant cardboard & duct-tape Jaws mask was brilliant!  And happily, the fake blood on my chin did not stain quite as badly as I had feared, and should be fully scrubbed off by Monday.

I hope.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Le Fin

My bags may be packed, but I'm not sure I'm ready to go! It's been a pretty wild week here...and I'm not sure how I feel about going back to Real Life. Though it will, of course, be good to see Mr.Q and the beasties!

The last couple days have been busy. Wednesday...did not start out as the best day ever. (Not the worst, either, mind you! But not the best.) The weather was crappy and wet. I had my Gore-tex packed, and I am from the Wet Coast, so a little rain wasn't going to deter me! It seemed like the right weather to visit the cemetery at the top of Mont Royal, and then go over to the look-out at the Chateau.

Well, I got as far as the cemetery:

And then I kind of got turned around, and thought I was somewhere I wasn't, and I sort of walked around - not lost, exactly, but kind of misplaced - for a couple of hours. In the rain. In a cemetery with very windy, convoluted paths - so I couldn't just walk straight back to the bus stop. And then I had to pee, but I couldn't find the office - I briefly considered dropping trou behind a gravestone by a shrub, but even though I'm not religious, I'm pretty sure you go straight to hell if you pee on a gravestone. So I kept walking till I found the office (and a bathroom! Thank Bob!). A very nice (Anglophone) lady pointed me down the the opposite direction from where I knew the bus to be. So I called my sister, who was conveniently both at home and near a computer, and being a dutiful younger sibling, she found me the number for Montreal transit. Then, probably to make up for that time she punched me when we were kids, she used the power of her mind to send a taxi my way.

By now, my feet were frozen and very tired, and I was not a happy camper. Then I went for lunch, which either really didn't agree with me, or actually gave me mild food poisoning. And the rain really started pouring, and the bus stop near the metro was closed so I had to walk even further...Needless to say, by the time I got back to the hotel, I was pretty cranky, and ready for a nap!

At that point, I was thinking that just staying in my room till my flight left on Saturday wouldn't be a bad idea. Happily, it was a good nap! I woke up just in time to fly out the door for a show at the Basilica of Notre Dame. It was a light/sound/film kind of thing, on the history of both the church and the city...cheesy, but fun, and we had a few minutes afterward to look around the Basilica. It's a most impressive building!

Walking back to the metro, I saw this, which amused me:

Friday, I woke up to clear skies, wishing I could have a do-over of the day before. So I went right back up Mont Royal, followed a couple tourists with guidebooks, and found the Chalet & look-out with no problems.

Inside - a Lego replica of the mountain & the Chalet:

On the way back down to the bus, some very cheeky squirrels:

It was bloody cold out, though, so I stopped to get some hot lunch before going down to Vieux Montreal for another poke around...Wandered into an old church or two, talked to a couple of artists who were selling photos on the street, bought some cheesy souvenirs, and just enjoyed the ambiance...

I've been seeing some rather amusing cheese ads in the metro; this one especially tickles my funny bone:

Finding dinner was a bit of an adventure on Friday night, but I was determined to Go Out And Have Fun on my last night here. And I did! After dinner, I actually stopped to look at a building I've walked past several times this week:

Eeek! I'm such a geek. Inside, it turns out, you can watch any of several thousand National Film Board productions...for free! (I love living in Soviet Socialist Canuckistan.) So of course, I went inside. Watched the Log Driver's Waltz short; a cool animated Inuit legend - in Inuktitut; and a documentary from the '60s on the science and legends of the Northern Lights.

And that pretty much wrapped up my night. Le sigh! It took me a long time to pack up, I just didn't want to admit the week was over.
I am looking forward to seeing Mr.Q, as I said...but I'm also a little worried. He tells me the bed is too big without me (aaaawwwwww!!!!) But I...I woke up this morning, sleeping sideways and spread-eagled, somehow managing to take up the entire king-sized bed all by myself.

I will suggest that he wear hockey pads to bed for a couple days, to minimize any injury caused during my re-acclimation to Real Life!

And that, in a nutshell (or seven!) has been my adventure Out East. Already thinking of the next one! Now to find something decadent for breakfast. If I'm lucky, I've got time for a last walk down to the river to say adieu to the city, before I have to get a cab to the airport...

Friday, October 22, 2010


I've been making quite the effort to practice my stunted French, and it does get easier. Yesterday my entire interaction with the waitress at dinner was en francais, and it felt pretty fantastique. Then again, I've been practicing pretty hard. Like this:

"Le (jus de) pamplempousse est sur la table."

"Le pamplemousse est sur la montagne."

"Le pamplemousse est dans l'arbre."

"Le pamplemousse est dans les feuilles."

"La tarte de sirop d'erable est sur le banc."

"Le pamplemousse va manger le tarte..."

Mais je bois le jus, et je mange la tarte!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

You say it's your birthday...

Yesterday was my birthday...Also, as it turns out, Viggo Mortensen's. (Though Mr.Q didn't seem nearly as interested in that tidbit as I was!) Anyway, I had a perfectly lovely day. I slept in a bit (trying for late nights & lie-abed mornings, to ease the jet lag when I go home.) I met up with a friend whom I haven't seen in a couple of years - she's been abroad, and just moved to Montreal last week - perfect timing! We met at the Atwater Market, where I had a divine pastry, and a really good cup of coffee (in all honesty, the first good cup since I left Vancouver a week ago!)

From outside the market - Oh my gourds!

After a great visit - much talk about music, I'd forgotten that we shared that love! - she went off into her day, and I went to Ariadne Knits. Where I stupidly forgot to take any pictures...but the proprietress was most friendly, and I may have bought myself a few skeins of "souvenir" yarn. Ahem. I didn't stay and chat as long as I would have liked, as I was so hungry for lunch at that point that I was about to start eating the yarn, or the small children in the store. Neither of which would have been very palatable, I'm sure: the former due to the eventual furballs, and the latter due to the absence of ketchup.

So I went back to the market, on a whim, and got myself some kind of Mediterranean bread with lots of olive oil; a round of soft cheese; and a fresh, ginormous honey crisp apple. (And a tarte au sucre for later!) Then I took my treats down to the canal, and ate lunch on a bench overlooking the water, here:

Mural spotted on the way back to the Metro:

Then back to the hotel to drop off my yarn, give my feet a bit of a rest, and figure out what to do with the rest of my day. I finally decided to do a walk up Rue St. Denis in the Quartier Latin, reputed to be a cultural hub...and very cool it was! Definitely a very European feel to the city.

And one for Mr.Q!

Birthday dinner was a mango-chicken salad with a glass of kir. Then a walk up to Juliette & Chocolat, which is far too close to my hotel for comfort! I got a cup of chocolate to bring back to my room, and didn't realize till I got here that I should have accepted the spoon I was offered...So much drinking chocolate left at the bottom of the cup, I should have stirred it into the milk...oops! I guess I'll just have to get another cup while I'm here.

Anyway, it was a fabulous birthday. And two more days of Montreal adventures ahead of me! I think I'm falling in love..

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here be dragons!

Let's be honest. I have (barely) survival-level French. By which I mean, I can manage, with the aid of a lot of gesturing & sound effects (skills well-honed from years of teaching English!) I can do all the important things: not get (too) lost; order a coffee; find a bathroom. (Not necessarily in that order!) I can't have much of a conversation, beyond discussing whether a grapefruit is on, or possibly under, the table (or was that in your mother's shoes?). But I can find an exit or figure out a menu, and understand why the name of the candy store up the road (Sucre Bleu) is pretty funny.

So while I was planning this trip, and on the train up - even when I got to the hotel, then went out for dinner on Monday, I had this idea that "How very charmant! Everything is in French!"

Then I got up Tuesday morning, left my comfy hotel room, and realized: "Holy shit! Everything's in French!" So I called Mr.Q with a minor melt-down, certain that I wasn't going to get any breakfast...He steadied my nerves, and sent me out into the city to have an adventure. (And I did get breakfast: some lovely crepes, with mixed berries.)

And the French thing hasn't been a problem, because every time I try, whomever I'm talking to kind of gives me this little smile, shakes their head, and switches to English. The first person I tried to talk to in French was a very nice homeless guy, who barely spoke any English, but between us we managed, and it was quite a confidence boost. Until I ordered a coffee from a Chinese woman at a cafe, and she switched to English...oy!

I started out with a quick walk around Vieux Montreal - I'm going to have to go back, because it was all so overwhelming that I barely managed to take in a fraction of it. I went to the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum of Archaeology and saw some really old stuff.

(I also realized I'm not so good with museums, as I don't have a lot of patience to look at all the details and displays - I just like to look at the cool stuff.) It was cool - and old! Maybe not for someone in Italy, but being from Vancouver, it was practically ancient! The foundations (literally!) of the country and all that. As I said, cool!

A little more wandering, and I headed back to the hotel for a rest. Then off to the Botanical Gardens, where there was a lantern exhibit in the Chinese garden. (Also, an Insectarium with lots of cool (dead) beatles and butterflies...though disturbingly, some very large spiders as well! I'd been hoping, not being insects, they'd be excluded. Apparently French Canadians have different ideas of whath constitutes an insect!)

Below: some pics of places aroung Vieux Montreal (I have no idea of what - I just liked them!) The ones from a higher perspective were taken from the look-out at the top of the museum. The lanterns, obviously, were from the gardens - the exhibit was called "The Magic of Lanterns" and it really was magical!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Down by the station, early in the morning...

I love travelling by train. It's slow, and the trip to Montreal was quite long. (Not least due to the tourists on board...oy! I maintain, now and always, that there is a huge difference between a "traveller" and a "tourist" - and I have little patience for the latter!) Anyway - it was a great way to see more of this corner of the world, and the leaves were indeed beautiful. Some highlights...

From the station in Poughkeepsie:

Albany (?):

Somewhere with pretty leaves:

Waiting at the border...

On the home stretch, back in the land of maple syrup and mooses:

And finally, Montreal! My hotel is nice - old, but clean, and very conveniently located. I went out in search of dinner, found this (for Mr.Q - there was a huge display for Godin guitars in the window!)

Finally settled on poutine, the one thing I knew I could order in French:

(My accent must be a lot worse than I thought, because although I tried...the burly Quebecois behind the counter immediately switched to English!)
Finally, back in the hotel, drinking mead from a plastic cup....

And now off to explore the city by daylight! I could get used to this travelling thing...