Portuguese Tapas and Scandalous Affairs

I am subscribed to the Place des Arts newsletter.  Which is great because I know what’s coming, what’s on pre-sale, what’s on special…  I say great but not sure if this is a good or bad thing! Ka-Ching!  On September 20th they had a 45% price reduction on Les Grands Ballets Canadiens’ “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”.  Hmmm….  I checked to see what sorts of seats were available then contacted my ever-willing- partner-in-all-things-cultural, Julie, to see if she was interested.  If she wasn’t, I was going to go it alone.  However, it is always way more fun to share these things.  Lucky for me, she said yes and I purchased the tickets in a loge.  Number 13.  Maybe that should have been a warning.

We agreed to meet just outside of the interior parking lot (both of us felt lazy) around five-ish giving us a good almost three hours to eat and catch up.  But where to go?  Many options in that hood, lemme tell you!

There are two restaurants, one in back of the other, built right on the sidewalk of Jeanne Mance Street.  They are like glassed-in “pop-up” style restaurants. Only permanent.  At least, I think they are!  Coolest thing ever.  Both of them are the “offsprings” of high-end restaurants in the city.  We stopped first at Brasserie T (baby of Toqué!), checked out the menu… looked interesting.  We decided to check out the second one.  There was no menu posted outside so we had to go in and ask to look at it.  This one is Taverne F (baby of Café Ferreira).  We chose this one.

The hostess asked us if we had a reservation.  You see, on nights where there are events going on at PdA, they are booked solid.  However, if we were willing, there was a place at the bar.  Ever the uncomplicated peeps we are, Jules and I accepted.  What a great thing that turned out to be!

Our barman/waiter, Simon-Pierre, was excellent, plus he had a little of the Chris Pratt look to him 😉  It was suggested we order 2-3 items per person.  So we ordered 6 in all.  He then suggested a bottle of red (Boina) to go with.  I have no knowledge of Portuguese wines so his suggestion, based on our tastes, was essential.  No.  I did not take any pictures of our food (d’oh!) however should you wish to, just click on the link above and you can see all sorts of beautiful pictures.

We started off with Pastéis de Bacalhau (the quintessential cod fritters with a red pepper piri-piri sauce), Sardinhas (roasted sardines with pickled veg) and Camarão e Amêijoas (shrimp and clams).  Perfect trio to start us off and we had lots of time to enjoy, so we did!

Simon-Pierre asked if we wanted a little break before the next three and we agreed….  We then had Polvo (grilled octopus with potatoes, confit tomato, chouriço and shery vinaigrette), Feijoada (lima bean cassoulet with chouriço sausage and fried pork) and finally, Arroz de Marisco (seafood rice, sofrito, calamari, shrimps and mussels).  With a little (maybe more than a little) bread to sop up the various sauces – for both trios – we were feeling just perfect.  Not too much, not too little.  We leisurely finished off our wine and chatted away.

It was then suggested we have a little dessert.  Looking at the time, we still had over half an hour to kill.  What the hell! Pastéis de Nata is a classic Portuguese pastry (custard tartlet, cinnamon, caramel sauce) and then that handsome feller went and gave us each a glass of Moscato!

Simon-Pierre in action

Now we were properly stuffed!  We made our way back to PdA and settled into our seats.  They were not as great as I had hoped.  If we had been on the other side of the theatre, we would have seen everything.  We did have a great view of the orchestra pit.  Snark, snark. The stage was built on an angle, to represent hills, so any action happening on the left-hand side was out of our view.  Thankfully, not too much happened in that corner, but still.  Quite annoying.  During the second half, the two sitting ahead of us and to the right (where the water bottle is and which had a better view) did not show up and we considered taking their seats but by the time we realised they were not returning, we, didn’t want to disturb…

View from our seat

I was a good girl and did not take any pictures of the ballet.  It was a pretty ballet but it was so slow in the beginning, us two chicas, satiated on food and wine, both struggled to stay awake (I was relieved at intermission when Julie admitted to me she was struggling as much as I was!)  A bottle of sparkling water each and we were ready for the second half!

I have to admit to not having read D.H. Lawrence’s book – yet – so I did not know the storyline, except for the obvious part.  I also like to NOT read the synopsis of the ballet because I like to see if I can figure out what is going on.  And I did, mostly, so that says a lot for the choreographer, Cathy Marston.  It was easy enough to figure out who was who except for two characthers:  Lady Chatterley’s sister – though I was fairly certain that’s who she was.  (A little aside on this character… At intermission, I turned to Julie and asked:  “Have you ever seen such a busty ballerina?” To which she responded: “I know, right?  I couldn’t help but notice, too!”  One of those stupid things you can’t help but comment on because it truly is outside the “norm”.)  There was another dancer that we thought was maybe a lady of the evening but, it turns out, was the lover’s (Mellors) former wife.  Oops. My bad.

Taking a bow

All in all, we did enjoy it – way more than the last one we saw which was Stabat Mater – a whole lotta hype that disappointed us.

What we both were wondering is why in the hell do they put this image on the cover of the programme and all other advertisements?  We kept waiting to see this superbe costume!  Nope.

They do the same with their videos… not anywhere near what we saw, costume-wise…

 

Cook in Tuscany – La Chiusa, A Surprise, Innocenti and Farewell

*** EIGHT – yes, EIGHT!!  months have gone by since I returned from Tuscany.  I had so many issues with my computer that I had put this aside to finish later and later never seemed to come.  I am now, if you don’t mind, ready to finish the telling of this fabulous life-changing (for me) trip! ***

♣♣♣TWO YEARS – yes, officially TWO YEARS have, as of today, gone by since I started my Cook in Tuscany Trip.  I am not counting my day in Zug because that would have made yesterday the official two-year mark.  Though I am not pro-resoution, I have promised myself to finish every project I have started and that includes this one.♣♣♣

Now where was I….

Sigh, the last full day in Montefollonico, at La Costa with this fabulous group that made the start of my trip so wonderful. The next morning most would be hopping the van to Chiusi-Chianciano Station to continue their adventures elsewhere or return home.  But till then, we had a full day of wonderful stuff!

As per usual, we had our breakfast in the closed-in veranda before making our way to our last cooking class.  It is kinda funny that we had the van, considering how close we were!  We could easily have walked there and back but hey, why not?  And it’s not like any of us knew where we were going anyway.

This time we made our way to the restaurant La Chiusa, run by Michelin-star chef Dania, a woman who is somewhere in her 70’s but does not dress “accordingly” (whatever that is supposed to be)!  She is one sexy lady!  Though divorced, her husband still works with her.  How very European, eh?

Dania is very artistic and she showed us how to decorate plates with zucchini and beet purées.  We made stuffed zucchini flowers, pesto risotto, chicken stew, caramel nests, fig and caramel ice cream.  The colour of the egg yolks… I have no words.  And this standard for them!

Once most of the mains were started, Dania brought us through to her gardens, which were still amazing in September.  Huge kale, leeks, rows and rows of rosemary, basil, eggplants, peppers, fig trees, zucchini with their blossoms – it was amazing to walk through, while Dania chattered away, occasionally translated by the lovely Geraldine – same who had translated on truffle-hunting day.  I think I would spend hours on this bench, dreaming of what to pick next…

Group photo!

We then went into the “pasta” kitchen where Antonietta had us making ravioli stuffed with ricotta and lovely gnocchi.

All that hard work meant we got to eat al fresco on the terrace.

To return “home”, we decided to walk this time.  It was just up a hill, less than a kilometre and let’s face it, walking was not a bad idea.  As we entered the gates of Montefollonico, we were chattering and laughing when I heard “Dale?”.

What the… I spun around and there was Pierre.  One of Mick’s close friends and former clients.  Oh. Em. Gee.  You cannot make this stuff up!  I mean, come ON!  This is not THE rocking place of Tuscany.  This tiny village is tucked away in the middle of nowhere!  I can still hear Donna saying:  “You turned French Canadian in front of my eyes!”  Speaking of eyes, the whole gang got all misty-eyed at seeing us hug.  Pierre looked at me, then up at the sky and let out a “Mick, tabarnac!”  He said he was a little bit of a believer but now was full-fledged.  I had no idea he and his wife, Geneviève, were there on vacation.  And it was his in-laws who wanted to go visit there.  What were the chances?

Pierre and Me

We exchanged emails and made arrangements to hook up in two days.  So. Very. Cool.

We had a few hours to kill before our next adventure and Sandy wanted to deliver an apron to Dania in thanks.  So I joined Donna and her for a walk back to La Chiusa and Dania.

Our last excursion was down the street from LaCosta to Innocenti Wines.

We were greeted by Vino, Vittorio Innocenti’s sweet dog.  We entered and a few feet in, found ourselves in a fairly dark and musty wine cellar with the big casks.  Vittorio and Laura (Geraldine’s mum) were waiting for us to give us a tour.  Not a very big one!  The place is quite small and feels very intimate.

It was our last night together! How quickly it passed.  How much fun we had.  The memories created will remain forever, of that I am certain.  Friendships created and with the magic of Facebook, maintained.

Our last supper was at La Costa in the closed veranda as the evening was quite cool.  We had a lovely feast of pork chops and the lemon roasted potatoes and balsamic roasted cipollini, three types of crostini (mushroom, roasted tomato and olive), salad and a birthday cake for Cindi and Alison!  A perfect ending to a perfect week in perfect company.  Linda and George gave us each a lovely ceramic plate as a memento.  We would save our good-byes for the morrow.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

 

 

Search For the Perfect Q-Ban – This Ain’t Easy – Take Two

This past week – and I mean FULL week of seven days, we have had weather to rival any Caribbean country – say, like… Cuba!  I’m talking a most disgusting average of 35°C (95°F) with that humidex factor making it feel like 45°C (115°F).  What’s a girl to do?  Continue on her search for that perfect Montreal version of the Cubano sandwich, of course.  Her partner in crime, Julie, ever the willing participant, agreed to meet me today, Friday, on my day off.  So what was today’s temp? 22°C (72°F) and it felt downright chilly!  Now for us Quebecers, who start wearing shorts when it hits 15-16°C (60°F), – sooner for some locos – this may seem silly.  But it has been hotter and muggier than the inside of Hades mouth so, this cool-down was quite the shocker.  And me, wearing a sundress…

Now I know Linds B. and Marc, over at Sorryless are done with the whole Cubano Sammy thing but they did encourage me to keep on it.  They apparently like when other peeps crash their party…

Right.

On my way to destination number two, I was struck by the sheer amount of garbage everywhere.  You see, here in Quebec, the official moving day is July 1st.  That means peeps are moving from one apartment to another and leaving shitloads of stuff behind.  I’m thinking garbage day in the area I was driving through still had not come…

Destination number two was suggested to me by a friend whose boyfriend just so happens to be Cuban.  He says other Cubans go there:  Café Cubano, still on the outskirts of Little Italy but now, on Beaubien East Street.  Traffic for Jules was horrendous, so I sat outside on a park bench in the sunshine (it was still warm, then).  Then I took a few pics in preparation.  Cute little brother and big sister skipped by.  I was amused as it seemed everyone who passed by sounded French from France.  Had me wondering what area I was in after all.  Very residential with little business like this one on the ground floor and apartments above.

Julie arrives and we pick a table.  Always a good sign when the other patrons speak the lingo.  We get the menus and I see that the Cuban Sandwich is NOT there.  And yet, when I Googled it, it was.  Hmmm…. I ask the waiter if they do do Cubanos and he says, get this:  “Not today”.  What?  “I am sorry, tomorrow you can have some.  Today we cook the pork and it takes hours. There are none today.”

Fuck.

Looked at Julie and said, “What to do now?  I am on a Cubano Sammy search.”  She agrees we need to find another place so here we are sitting in this restaurant, with our glasses of water we dare not touch, Googling for other restaurants in the vicinity.

We come upon La Bodeguita de Montréal on St. Laurent Street, a 7-minute drive away.  We decide to go with just my car – why look for two parking spots?  While I’m driving, Jules says.. “Hmmm.. their Facebook page says it’s closed.”  Dammit.  On the Google page, it says Fridays it is open from noon.  We keep going, not knowing who to trust.  We get there.  Door is locked.

Fuck.

More Googling, and by now, our stomachs are starting to auto-digest and we need us some grub.  We do NOT want to drive to downtown as that will take us a good 23-40 minutes.  Julie finds one on Park Avenue – but it’s a Mexican joint!  BUT the comments on whatever site she is looking at says you MUST try the Cuban Sandwich.

We need no further reason.  What a fabulous find!  Lemme tell you, Linds and Marc, if I decide to crash your taco party, Imma go back to this spot called Ta Chido on Park Avenue.

Colourful, joyful, smell of fresh bread cooking, kitschy as all get-out, we are charmed immediately.  Screw the Cubano, if we must.  By now it is quite cool and we choose to sit inside.  Then move to outside.  I did NOT know there exists some Mexican Heavy Metal… Thankfully it was playing pretty low (so wish I had Shazamed it 😉 )

I have to share some of the decor with you…

Okay, I’ve made you wait enough, haven’t I?  Let’s get to serious bidness.  As we were starving, we ordered a bowl of guacamole with the usual chips and chicháronnes. We stuck with water for today.

I explain to our waitress – sweetest gal ever – that I am on a Cubano mission and though I realise that this is a Mexican place, they do have what they call a Cubano… She says:  “Well that is what WE call it too.  But.. I am so sorry to tell you, we are out of jamón.”

Sigh.

Julie suggests we get two different sandwiches and share.  And frankly, that is a great idea.  So, Jules gets the “Tinga de pollo” – pulled chicken sautéed with onions and chipotle peppers, mayo, black bean spread, avocado, tomatoes, sour cream and feta cheese.

And I had the “Cubana” – breaded beef cutlet, pulled pork and ham (though there was none), mayo, cheese, black bean spread, avocado, tomatoes and caramelized onions.

Julie found the chicken needed some oomph and was glad to pour on the jalapeño sauce that was brought to the table.  I agree.

The “Cubano” had nary a Cubano element… but was very tasty for me.

We are 0 for 2 in the authentic Cubano search.

However.  After some discussion, and poor Julie still has no idea what a real Cubano is…I give it a solid 6/10.  Why so high when there were only two elements in the sammy?

That bread.  That bread was so bloody divine, I cared not one whit that it had never seen the inside of a press.  So good, in fact, that Imma go aaaaalllll the way there to buy some to make MY OWN Cubanos…  And for my celiac friends, they also make gluten free… though I would check out the facilities to make sure there is no cross-contamination.  I didn’t go look, to tell the truth.

The pulled pork was tasty, as was that piece of beef and caramelized onion.  Avocados are a favourite ingredient of mine and pretty much end up in all of my sandwiches.

The chicháronnes were light and crunchy and addictive.  the guacamole was delicious with just the right amount of smooth and chunk.

We felt we had made quite the discovery after all the shenanigans of finding a bloody place to eat.  Plus, Julie still wants to be my cohort for the next run.  Win-Win-Win.

As a result…

A little extra “blah-blah-blah” as our day was not done…

Traffic was gonna be crap for both of us, so we decided to go to the Marché Jean Talon to browse all the wonderful produce, get inspired for supper – right, like I was gonna eat supper – and maybe flirt with Frank from Birri Farms.  (What?  He’s gorgeous, Italian, single and such a flirt…)

On our way there, as we were approaching a stop light, I was pointing out a restaurant we had talked about when BANG!  I got hit from behind.  WTF?  Both of us were stunned.  I got out of the car and the guy behind got out of his apologising profusely.  First thing he asked was if were we hurt, then we checked our cars.  Mine had nothing, his, a cracked bumper.  I asked him if he wanted to fill out papers and he declined (I might add his car was a clunker).  Asked again if we were okay, apologised again and we were on our way.  We turned at the next street and pulled over to really check.  Nothing.  We both felt it in our necks – a light case of whiplash.  I know we are going to feel it tomorrow or the next day.

 

Joining in on the Search for the Perfect Q-ban Sandwich – Take One

Marco and Linds over at Sorryless have been on a quest to find the perfect Cubano sammy. ‘Course they are way out there in Pennsylvania – a good 8.5-hour drive for me – so there ain’t no way I can play with them direct-like, so I am crashing their party from way over here in the Great White North …

I mentioned my latest adventure plans to my friend Julie who was more than willing to keep me company. Now… we were supposed to do this weeks ago, but you know how that goes. Life gets in the way and all that. Neither here nor there. We finally made it.

Turns out, there are a lot more places making Cubanos than I ever expected. I even solicited my Latina friend, Naira to see if she had an opinion. Despite her boyfriend being Cuban, she had NEVER been… Sigh. She did suggest a place and we shall be trying that place next. I was wanting to be nice to Jules and pick a place ‘twixt us so I chose La Cecilia, just outside of Little Italy on Bélanger Street.

I parked a few blocks away on purpose. Figured I’d need to walk off the extra calories and this is a ‘hood I don’t really know. Turns out it is more Latino than Montreal’s official Quartier Latin What up wit’ dat? I heard more Spanish a-speaking here than I ever did in the Berri area… Our colourful character (see below) confirmed this to us… He said this ‘hood had more Latino-influenced establishments than they did. Apparently, Mtl Blog agrees.

Julie needed to leave by 2:30-3:00, latest, to drive her son to his grad (ball), so we didn’t have all that much time, but really? How long does it take to eat lunch? We met in front of the restaurant at around 12:45.

Such a tiny place! We liked that. The owner (we presume) spoke in an extremely heavily Spanish-accented French. I made the mistake of saying hello in Spanish and he let ‘er rip… Señor! No habla l’español (though I can understand if spoken s-l-o-w-l-y). Second good sign.

I explain to him that we are on a mission to discover wonderful Cubano sandwiches and probably would have taken some kind of appetizer but we were able to take a “combo” of sandwich with soup or salad or fries and a drink. We both opted for the salad. As for the drinks, Señor Chef/Owner suggested a “Maracuyá drink”, or, as they call it, in his native Dominican Republic (uh-oh, not so good sign), “Chinola” – turns out that this is the term for Passion Fruit blitzed with milk into a sorta milkshake if, you please.

Absolutely delicious!

This character came in. What a hoot and a half. Obviously an employee (could be family, who knows?) and said that it was all wrong… How can you have a Latin-inspired restaurant such as this and have no music? Up on a chair he went and turned on the music. Ahhh… now it was perfecto!

Talk about adding colour to the joint

Along comes our sammy and “salad”. Um. OK. I had explained to Julie what the components are supposed to be, which is why she jumped on the bandwagon to have one: pork, ham, cheese (I won’t get mad if it’s not Swiss, but it better have flavour), pickles and mustard on a pressed bun.

I’ll start with the salad. Cut up iceberg lettuce, a few slices of tomato “artistically” placed on top and a little container of bottled Italian dressing. I couldn’t even take a picture. I know, I know, I should have. Hang on… lemme see if I can replicate it… Ya. Never mind. I am positive you can picture it.

The Cubano. Yes. Bread was pressed and nice and crunchy. Pork was the equivalent of pulled pork – I’m not too bothered by it because it was so tasty. Found a small slice of ham in the second half of my sandwich. Cheese? Was there cheese? Pickles… Yoooo hoooo? Where are you? They must have been held hostage by the cheese… I think there might have been some caramelized onions, but that may be because of the pulled pork. There were a few little pieces of lettuce but not even enough to give it crunch… There was some mustard on the bread. Wasn’t there? Yes, there was. A very light coating.

My expectations were not sky-high high… but they were higher than what we got. While the sandwich was missing too many ingredients to qualify as an Autentico Cubano in my books, it was tasty. That Maracuyá (or Maraculla, as another patron spelt it for me) drink was the BOMB. Don’t even talk to me about the salad. Combo, my ass. Next time I’ll splurge on soup or fries… In case you did not bother clicking on the link to the restaurant, here is what they show their salad and sammy to look like…

Which goes to show that I did NOT look at the pics because… does that look like a Cubano to you? Does it? No, it does not. So… my bad for choosing the joint.

I will score it a 4/10. NOT for the Cubano, but for the drink, the friendly owners/employees and the fabulous company. Plus, Jules did say she would accompany me on my next Cubano hunt which will be sooner rather than later. (Jules is more generous than I… giving it a 6 – but then, she had nothing to compare it to.)

Me and my beautiful friend, Julie

B, I think you hexed me this morning when I told you the name of the joint we were going to…

Birthdays, Easter, Camp NaNo, Stuff

“Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related for better or for worse…and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.”
Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters

Haven’t done a Sunday Gratitude or a weekly update in a while and figured, why not?

I can’t remember ever celebrating Easter on April Fool’s day – which makes sense because The Google told me the last time it happened was 1956.  Before my time.

So I got curious about how often it has fallen on MY birthday because I remember celebrating it when I turned ten – I remember because it was also the same year I had my First Communion (I wore the same dress 😉 ).   Matante Nicole shopped with me for it and brought me for the big shindig because my folks were off on some Caribbean holiday…

Turns out, it happened three times in 11 years:  the year before I was born, when I was four and, as mentioned, when I was 10.  The time before that was way back in 1895.  The next time it’s scheduled?  2047!  I’ll be an old lady of 83 by then.  Of course, when that time comes around, 80 will be the new 60, right?

I’m sure that has totally fascinated you, hasn’t it? 😀  Between that and that cute kid… I know, you can’t take it.   We’ll just table that into the “useless information file”…

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”
Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

On Saturday we suddenly remembered Sunday was Easter and had planned absolutely nothing. Got a call from Tracy that Sébastien was doing the ham, I offered to do the veg and, of course, as Iain’s birthday was the day before, I was bringing a key lime pie and Tracy said Sabrina (who turned 18 exactly one week before) wasn’t into lime, was into chocolate so I said, no problemo, I will bring something chocolate.  The Sachertorte.  Lisa was doing the potatoes and rice (because, just because) and the salad and supplying the “venue” so that was more than enough.  Mom was making break and her “pouding au chômeur” – which translates literally to “Poorman’s Pudding” which really is a white cake with a sugar bottom.  This stuff is to die for.  And if you’re really piggy about it, you can add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top (especially when it’s cold) and if your sweet tooth wants an extra kick, you can do like Sébastien and pour maple syrup on top.  Ridonkulous.

Isn’t Iain’s key lime pie pretty?  Well guess what?  It’s a FROZEN key lime pie… so I told Shane to put it in the fridge instead of the freezer.  Why?  Sonofa….  It was more like key lime soup.  Taste was there and since this isn’t Iron Chef and we have no blast chiller… we ate key lime soup.  Sigh.

Took a couple pics of all the kids (9, including Willow, Aidans girlfriend) and realised Sabrina does not appear in them.  Dang.  She arrived a bit later and, when I took a pic of her brother and Iain (they are 2 months apart) I got just the top of her head.  That won’t do.  So pretend there is a beautiful blonde in the mix!

I have decided to do Camp NaNo again this April.  Okay, okay… I have decided to not just add my name to the group and start for a day or two but actually work the whole month of April.  I’ve mentioned it before and this time I’m going to get even further in my “Dear Mick” book of short stories which are basically memories of our almost twenty years together.  I figure worse comes to worse, the boys will one day have a book to remind them of their dad.  Which they may even read.  One day.  So our cabin is called the Plot Bunnies – but since we were all joking around about wanting to live our jammies, we are also known as the “Camp Plot Jammies” but only ‘coz we’re JAMMING on our plots!  Woot.  Our band of merry writers are: Joy from Tales From Eneana  Gabriele from Flights of Fancy Lynn from Word Shamble Sammi from Sammi Cox Megan from Invisible World Crispina from Crimson Prose.  Should be fun to give and get encouragement to go-go-go!

Oh!  And on a final note, sometimes things happen for a reason.  The fridge guy was supposed to pass by on Thursday morning.  My ice machine in the fridge had decided that it would make ice until you can no longer open the door!  I had a quick appointment five minutes away so I told the company to have him call when he left his his current appointment as, should I needed to step out but would be five minutes away.  Well.  He called at 9:44.  His phone is a “private number”.  My cell phone rejects private numbers.  So I waited for the message to appear.  It ddn’t.  Shoot.  My appointment had five minutes left and I got home at 10:03 to find the fridge guy’s business card with 9:55 written on it.   Really?  Come ON!!!  I call the company and the receptionist says she’ll try to reach him.   She couldn’t.  I dunno… but if you are using a company cell phone, should you not be a “private number”?  She told me he also called the house line and there was no response (and no message).  Well duh.  I’m thinking there are more and more people who no longer have land lines.  That means, even if I had been home and gone to the bathroom, foolishly sans cell phone, I would have missed his call.  Yes, I would have been here when he “took the chance” to stop by as he did.  But still.  I took the trouble to tell the receptionist I had a 5-minute appointment.  They cannot guarantee what time they will pass so why cancel a five-minute appointment?  BECAUSE THIS CAN HAPPEN!

Well guess what?  I don’t need no stinking repair guy because my guy fixed the problemo…  So

I keep forgetting to add to my list!

A few of the 10,000 things that make me happy and grateful

41. Fellow NaNo Campers – encouraging each other to write
42. Not needing the fridge guy after all – saving big buckaroos
43. Easter – especially when the whole family is present
44. Birthday cakes – even when they don’t quite turn out, they can still taste good
45. Sense of humour – see number 44

Sunday Stuff and Gratitude- March 18, 2018

“Good morning.
Lead with gratitude.
The air in your lungs, the sky above you.
Proceed from there.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda

And so goes another week.

Tuesday I worked at the golf club for a small event.  A little four-hour shift.  I’m jiggy wid dat.   Got home and the boys were there as well.  Bad mother that I am, I was a willing participant in my sons’ impromptu vodka shots and chebureki (again!) night.  Aidan is on Spring break and so had his evenings free to hang out at home and things just happened.  Marie-Soleil, Iain’s non-girlfriend, girl friend came over and before we knew it, it was a party.  The “kids” were getting rowdy and Miss Marie Sun-Shine got ahold of my phone.  Needless to say there quite a few to go through!  So made this little “animation” to give an idea of the evening.   I’m not a “gif” fan but apparently that’s how this puppy downloads.  Sorry ’bout that!

Wednesday woke up to a winter-fricken wonderland.  Ugh.  I am SO done with this white stuff.  Only good thing was on our walk, Zeke and I came across this bizarre little igloo-maker thingamajig…   I tell ya, it was heart-attack snow to shovel as well.  Yeah, that’s right.  I have two adult sons who left for work and left me to shovel the shit.

Thursday morning, got a call from François L., my former boss but long-time friend, who suggested dinner at his place.  Well not “his” place as he is between domiciles at this time.  He is house-sitting for a friend and wanted to take advantage of his pied-à-terre.  He was going to call a few others to join but with it being beyond last-minute, we ended up just three of us.  I’m good with that!

But first I went for lunch with my friend Jean-Louis, who wanted to try out the Pavillon 67, “gourmet” buffet in the Montreal Casino.  Ironically, my sister has been a croupier (dealer) there for the past 22 years and I’ve never been.  No, not true, I went with her to change money before one of our cruises together as they had the best exchange rate – service they no longer provide.  I texted her, letting her know we were there and wouldn’t you know it?  She just happened to have a union meeting and was on her way there.  She stopped by for a hello and introduction and was off.  As for the food.  Meh.  I’ve seen better.  Hell, J-L and I saw better in Dominican Republic last year.  Gourmet is not the proper descriptive.  No matter, I was there to catch up with an old friend.  Next time I go through there, I’ll pick up a sammy at the sandwhich stand – they looked pretty good!

Got home, made a quick “Dad’s Wacky Cake” to bring to François’ and made it there for 5-ish.

“Dad’s Wacky Cake” remade for home

We were joined by William who was one of the line-cooks at the Club.  It’s fun to be able to get together with twenty-somethings as well as sixty-somethings.  We’re planning another next Monday.  But this time, we should be a good 8-10 peeps.  Ironically, François decided on a Chinese fondue as dinner!  Ya know, like I made on the previous Saturday!  Talk about all or nothing… Or never or often.  Waves, baby, things happen in waves!

Saturday was reserved for my niece’s vollyball team’s “bowl-a-thon”.  A yearly event.  What is up with this stupid “sport” that I always end up feeling for two days after?  Not only that, I pulled a muscle in my hip.  How in the name of all that is holy does one do that?  Anyway.  It’s a great occasion for the family to get-together and laugh together and at each other for our lack of prowess, for the most part, though some managed to score some big numbers, Chris in particular whupped all our butts big time!  I actually did decently on one game so, I was not in total despair.  Last year I did so well, I had them print out my sheet!  This place is always fun because of the neon lights and music.  It can’t help but put you way off your game.  Yes, our story and we’re sticking to it!

Aidan was the hero of the week.  He helped to clear out the basement – the carpeted side.  Last week you saw the new vinyl-floored side, this week it was the clean the disgusting carpet side.  This side had become the dumping ground after we had to clear out the dining room and office and, frankly, a lot of it remained piled up helter skelter.  Now it was time to clear it up, move and hopefully see a difference once Aidan’s friend’s father cleaned it.  Of course, this now means the vinyl side is stacked with boxes and stuff but we will now take the time to figure out what stays and what goes and what remains boxed until we move.

I must admit, I am quite pleased with the end result.  It was beyond gross, which Christopher, the cleaner, took pleasure in telling me.  More than once.   That will be for another post…

For now.  I am feeling like things are really moving forward.  I’ll be calling the real estate agent this week and see what more should be done before that “À Vendre” sign goes up!

A few of the 10,000 things that make me happy and grateful

36. Having fun with my boys – I cherish these moments most
37. Lunches with friends – catching up and just enjoying ourselves
38. Aidan – my hero for helping me clean the basement and his room
39. Clean carpet – a sign we are moving forward
40. Disco bowling – why the hell not?

 

 

Gratitude on a Monday – March 12, 2018

“Being grateful all the time isn’t easy. But it’s when you feel least thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you: perspective. Gratitude can transform any situation, It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. It’s the quickest, easiest, most powerful way to effect change in your life – this I know for sure.”
Oprah Winfrey, What I Know for Sure

I used to do my Sunday Gratitude, which then changed  to Weekend Coffee Share, which then became an occasional Weekend Share (because I had stopped participating in the Coffee one and when wanted to do it again, I realised no one was hosting it.   Mix in all of that my lack of stick-to-it-iveness and just plain laziness or easily-side-tracked-ness and you get one of these.  A Sunday share I started too late to finish on Sunday.  So had to change the title.  Again. 🙂  Welcome to my world of DADD Dale’s Attention Deficit Disorder.

In my defense (okay, okay, call it an excuse), François left Sunday for a two-week, sun-filled vacation.  Alone.  It was an already planned thing but I still spent part of my day moping and feeling all woe-is-me.  Then I spent another part of the day trolling the vacation websites, because, why not?  Why not also go away for a week to resource myself?  Then, I changed my mind and decided no…  save the moolah and go back to Tuscany in October.  Yeah, Baby.  Now, we’re talking!  We’re cooking with gas!  We have a plan!  And not just knee-jerk reaction brought on by envy.

Friday was my day to get things done.  Went to see Raffi to bring him our (the boys and mine) income tax papers and he did them right there on the spot!  The best.  I then went to my mother-in-law’s to empty her mailbox and collect any tax papers to bring to her accountant.  Did that but saw this beauty on my way.  I’ll definitely have to go back and get a better picture.  You know, when I’m NOT in my car.  Though I was not driving, I promise!

I then decided to go and visit Jean as my timing was good.  Saw this at another stop light.

Now I know we Canucks are a tough lot, and we Quebeckers really like to take advantage of clement weather, and all that… However.  It was only 4°C (40°F)!  These two must have had the heater blasting!!  Again, I was stopped at a stoplight 😉

Spent an hour with Jean, and she was happy for the visit.  She is much nicer in person than on the phone.  Did not once give me shit for “putting her there”.   She’s gonna get lucky with a second visit on her birthday with the boys later this month.  As traffic was going to be a bitch, when I left her at 4:30 I hightailed it to the Forum AMC Theatre, hoping to catch the 4:45 viewing of “Lady Bird”.  Managed to park inside, run up, get my tickets and buy myself a child’s portion of popcorn and drink (came with a little canister of m&m’s) for the ridonkulous price of $8.25, get a seat at the back and only missed the commercials and maybe the firest preview.  Woot!

I loved the movie.  Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalfe were great in their roles as daughter and mother.  A coming of age story that takes place in “no-where” Sacramento, California in 2002, it deals with the insecurities of pre-adulthood, of social class, of wanting more yet not ralising we love what we have until it’s gone.  That love-hate relationship that girls and mothers can share is something I’ve more heard about than experienced as my mother was (is) a very “non-invasive, figure-it-out-by-yourself” kind of mom.  At least from what I remember!  Will have to ask her.  Maybe I remember it wrong.  No wonder I’ll never be that type of writer who can describe in great detail their lives.  I’m so in the moment, I move forward and let go of what was.  Dunno if that’s a good thing or not.

Got home at 7 and ate some left-overs.   Vegged on the couch watching stuff I’d taped till a couple of Iain’s peeps came over .  Don’t know what was so funny but they were laughing up a storm.

They began playing drinking games and after a few, hailed me over to join them.  Not every day your son wants you around so you have to grab it when it comes!  First was some pyramid game where 10 cards are placed, ya, in a pyramid.  The rest of the deck is dealt to the players.  First card is flipped over, anyone with a matching card places it on top and names a person who takes a shot (or beer sip glug).  If you have two and give them both, the person takes two glugs.  Second row, same thing, one card is flipped only now each card is worth two and so on, going down to four.  That game turned out not too bad and the boys didn’t all pick on me and I was able to dish out a few myself.

They then decided I was the next “bus driver”, but took pity on my and only lay down 7 cards.  First card is flipped and I have to say if the next card in the deck is higher or lower than that one.  Jeez.  If you’re wrong, you take a glug and start over.  If you are right, you move the the next flipped card and do the same.  All is well as you go down the line and get them right but as soon as you make a mistake, it’s time for a shot and you START OVER!!  I did my part and figured enough was enough by 1 am.  Saluted the boys and I attempted to go to sleep.  They were still going strong at 3 am and I couldn’t sleep so I got up and wrote my Pegman Story!

On Saturday I woke up to big, fluffy, Christmas-like snowflakes.  Really? F*&?%!  Enough already.  It was pretty, I cannot lie… but. No.

After coffee and breakfast, Zeke and I made our way for a nice walk.  Always a good day for a walk as far as he is concerned.  On our way, I noted the hockey rinks are done for the season.  I decided we would go as far as my favourite willow.  I had stuff to do before François showed up so I couldn’t take more than an hour or so.

On our way back, we met Gus, an 8-yr-old Great Dane and Lou-Lou, a young pug.  So funny.  Zeke and Gus were getting to know each other and Lou-Lou was tugging at her leash, wanting to play with the big boys!  What a day to NOT have my camera.  Sigh.  I thought I caught a good pic of Gus and Zeke so we could compare their sizes but sadly, no.  However, got a good one with Gus and Lou-Lou and their humans!

And, because I like to torment you with food pics, I made Aidan really happy by announcing we were having Chinese Fondue for supper.  That’s one way to guarantee they (the boys) sit at the table for more than 15 minutes…

I think I’ve kept you longer than I should have.  But may I show you my new flooring, installed just this morning?  I’m telling ya, this house will be on the market by the end of the month!

Thanks for sticking to the end.  I promise next one won’t be so long (though I may have made that promise before, eh?)

A few of the 10,000 things that make me happy and grateful

31.  Giant snowflakes – even if they are in March
32. New flooring installed – one step closer
33. Being invited by my son to join him and his buddies
34. Fondue night – a time to chat while we cook our own food
35. Willow trees – they just make me happy