Pride, Pleasure, Peeved

There have been times I’ve found myself in the midst of a group of people chatting, and suddenly start feeling “less-than”.  The conversation has turned to our kids.  And so starts the boasting session – as I like to call it:  My daughter graduated magna cum laude at Hoity-Toity U in blah-blah, my son was seen by a scout and now two universities are fighting over him.  My child’s work ended up in the hands of a guru of Doohicky and is now working for her.  Straight-A student. Valedictorian.  Winner of scholarship.  It becomes extremely difficult to not feel the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” and try to show off my own kids’ exploits.  Except, there are none to mention.  What?  Do I not think my children are as good as theirs?  How can I even think that thought?  Then I feel like a total shit.  How dare I compare my kids to others?  I try not to do it with my own self and here I am doing it to them?  Not that they know this whole discourse is going on, thankfully.

After I’ve done chastising myself, I stop and think about the various good (and sometimes bad) things the boys have done so far… I know deep, sometimes DEEP down that they are good people.  They sometimes work hard, sometimes not so much.  They succeed at some things, and others, not so much.  They make me happy, they piss me off.  They do what I ask when I ask, I need to nag.  You know, like most humans/beasts borne of our loins.  We can’t always be on point all the time and can’t expect them to be either.  I know I sure as hell can’t.

So today, I am going to show off my son, Iain. (Total cheat… taken tonight instead of Saturday 😉 )

He’s a funny one, that one.  He is so like me at times, it’s scary.  Then, at other times, he is very much his father – on a lot of good points – sadly, not the neatness part.  That he gets from me.  But, with all that he’s inherited from his folks, he is also very much his own man.  He’ll spend hours watching videos, learning about a subject.  From exotic animals (knew all about the critters brought to my nephew’s birthday eons ago), to anything Bear Grylls, to guns (it must be a guy thing), to all sorts of things Russian.  Lately, he’s been alternating between watching Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares (hah!) and Cook with Boris.  How do I even know this?  Because sometimes he watches them while he snacks and he’ll even share by casting an episode on the TV.  Of course, once the snack is over, he just leaves me hanging.  Oh well, I’ll take each little moment as it comes.  He’s cheap in doling out “special Mom-Time…”

First he introduces me to some of his Russian – um – music on our way back from Andre’s last February.  He was sleeping in the car on our way home – felt like I was driving his dad home, back in the day – when he suddenly woke up and decided to connect his phone to my car, practically taking my hearing.

Then we have friggen vodka tasting sessions…. The boy spends a fortune on vodka.  He likes to sample all sorts.

This past Saturday, while François and I were out with co-workers, he decided to try his hand and Chebureki.  Why?  Because he watched this video.

Wow.  My kitchen. Wow.   Such a mess.  He had just finished frying his batch up and was eating his very first one when we arrived.  He shared with us.  Oh my.  Delicious!

But my kitchen. Wow.  Mess?  Doesn’t even begin to cover it.  Oy!  That said.  How proud am I of this man-child of mine who made the dough, prepared the filling, fried the chebureki…

I look at him, then at the kitchen, and back to him and he says “later” as he leaves for his room.  I decide to retire to MY room and leave him to it.  I hear banging around at 11 p.m.  Then nothing.  Hmmm.

I wake up the next morning.  Mess is still there.  I basically bust a gasket.  I bang on Iain’s door and get the response “There’s no more dish soap.”

François decides to go to the store to buy some because he sees that I am fit to be tied and he’s unhappy if I’m unhappy.  He is truly a nice guy.

When François returns from the store, Iain comes down, declaring he was going out to go “get stuff”.  I look at François and tell him that under no circumstances is he to touch the dishes.  Bloody hell.  I am NOT touching them either.  I loathe to wake up to a mess like this and I want to make us a pot of coffee.  I pile the mess into some semblance of order and leave the mess for Iain.

Said son returns and proceeds to clean up the kitchen.

It’s amazing how one can go from super proud and pleased to peeved beyond belief.






Out of Gas – What Pegman Saw

I almost didn’t participate this week and then a little window opened up 😉  I was going to go my usual “route” and share a memory but decided to try my hand at a real fictional story!


There is a road some fifty-three miles NNE of New York City with a strange reputation. This week, Pegman has stranded you there.

Volumes have been written about Clinton Road in West Milford, NJ, but you only need to write 150 words. The only limit is your imagination.

Feel free to capture your own streetview. If you’re not up to a weird tale, feel free to wander anywhere within the state of New Jersey for your story.

Once your 150 words are polished, you can share with other contributors using the Linkup below. Reading and commenting on others’ work is part of the fun!

Out of Gas

How far is the next gas station?  I look at my GPS, hit “nearest gas station”.  5 clicks.  Shit!  I dunno if I can make it.  I have to make it.  This is NOT the road to get stuck on.  Stop it!  Those are just stupid myths.  I’m being ridiculous.   Still.  I don’t want to be stuck here at night so I better start praying I make it.

I laugh at myself. How stupid to scare myself that way.  I’ve got a cell phone and a membership to AAA.  They are just a phone call away.  I relax.

The car sputters and I steer it towards the shoulder.  I grab my cell phone and dial AAA.  The phone rings and rings.  No answer. Really?  I glare at my phone and see it is still more than 75% charged.  I press redial when a text pops up:

“Where do you think you’re going?”


Disturbed to Centred

I am feeling disturbed.  Yes, I know, the video above is the Sound of Silence by Disturbed,  which is probably overplayed but I care not.  I love it.  And I also love the original. But today this is what I want. That type intensity that Simon and Garfunkel could never give.  They give me other stuff for another time.

I needed another walk today.  Had another sleepless night.  I swear, once all my mother-in-law shit is taken care of and my house has a “For Sale” sign, better yet, is SOLD, will I please, PLEASE sleep through the night?  I won’t be greedy… just a 6-hour stretch once in a blue moon without the need for any little sleeping or anti-anxiety pill.  Thank you, Universe.  I’m counting on you.

By the time I get my arse into gear, it is at least 1:30 pm.  No matter.  Time to get out!

Zeke and I made our way towards “my river”.  As we crossed the end of my street, less than a kilometre from home, we were hailed by Roxanne.  Lordy… When I saw her last summer, she was toting a little boy in a child’s seat on her bike.  A third son.  Today I found out the twins (I swear, born last year), Laurent and Logan are now 3 1/2 and Shawn (I didn’t ask the spelling) is going to be 2 on none other than my birthday!  How did that happen?  No, not my birthday date, the boys being so big so quickly.   We chatted, laughed with her mother (only 6 years older than me?  Wha??) who, I found out, has been divorced these past 5 years and thinks the dating life is over. Um. No.  Lady… get out there!  I told her she was the same age as my beau will be… Life is NOT over by a long-shot.  Gawd.  I hope I don’t get old before my time.

Kiss, kiss, and off to continue my walk.  I had been disturbed in my thought-process but not in a bad way nor by a long shot.  Was really nice to hook up with Roxanne.  Seriously.  She lives across the end of my street.  Life and all that.

I’m not yet feeling totally at one with the Universe when my cell rings.   Ugh.  Jean.  (Mother-in-law).

“Hello, Jean.”

“Is this Dale?”

“Yes, Jean, it is Dale.”

And then she starts.   “It’s your fault I’m in the hospital.”

“You’re not in the hospital, Jean, you’re in a home”

“Yes, it’s the third floor of the Jewish!”

“No, it’s the 3rd flo–”

“What did you do to make me come here?  I want to go home.  You have to get me out of here.  You put me here. You are so mean.”

I try to interject but frankly, she is not listening to me.  Doesn’t really matter what I say because she is totally convinced.

“The people here told me you put me in this place.”

I know she has dementia.  I know she is still in early stages so has moments of lucidity.  It doesn’t matter at all what I say because none of it will register.  Well, funnily enough, just like she was for the last 20 or so years, she registers what she wants to at times, I swear.  She was so aggressive, it took everything in my power not to tell her to take a long walk off a short pier.  Instead, I listened to her.  She complained I never visit.  I reminded her that I see her minimum twice per month whereas before we saw each other once per year.  Then her tone totally changed and she asked when I would come and visit her.  I said “tomorrow” and she said “ok”.   Tomorrow will be Monday because I can’t really tomorrow,  nor this week-end.  It won’t matter.  I’ll call her to say hello and she’ll ask me when I’ll come and visit her.  And I will say “tomorrow” and she will say “ok”.  I hang up and try to shake off the unpleasant feeling that has re-taken over my body.

We arrive at des Iles Percées park and I gaze at the marescent oak trees.  There are two of them in this park.  Why do they keep their leaves in winter?  I’ve googled it more than once.  There is no official reason that can be proven but there are a lot of hypotheses.  Though other types do so also, it is more of an “oak thing”.  Year after year, these two oaks refuse to drop their leaves.  At this point, I’m thinking I will write a post linking my mother-in-law’s memory loss with these trees.  So manymemories are still stuck to her but others flutter to the ground with the slightest gust of wind.  It is so hard.  I can’t even imagine what she is going through.  I so hope I never do.  It is a scary thought as there is Alhzheimer’s in my family.  My great-grandmother and one of my great-aunts had/have it.  My uncles died too young to know if they would have, my aunt, who just passed at age 81 had no signs and my aunt and mother seem to be ok.  I’ll be exempt.  Right?

As Zeke and I finally reach the park where I discovered “my” river, I’m feeling myself again.   The closer we get, the more I hear the kids yelling.  Dang.  It must be recess.  I choose to go to the west (I think!) bank of the river to avoid them.  Zeke loves kids and I don’t want to have to leash him.  Walking through the dirty  sno-cone-textured snow, I’m thinking I have the wrong boots.  Some of it makes its way in.  I let it melt.  I then, however, carefully place my feet in the already sunken steps taken by another (who hopefully had higher boots than I!)  I tried to capture the texture of the snow…sorry!  So hard to get a good pic on this sunless day!

I hear the bell as we approach the river and think, Yay, recess is over!  Nope. Somehow it was the official recess start bell so the rest of the kids came out.  We remained on the west side for a bit.  The sound of a river flowing is so soothing to me. I took a video (shared on Instagram) and this great pic of Zeke waiting patiently for me.

We walk all the way to the end and turn back.  The recess bell rings once again so we make our way across the little bridges and onto the east side.  Why do I insist on coming to this side?  Because it’s nicer!  I so enjoy taking pictures of this little river.  OK. OK!  It’s just a stream!  Still… It is called Ruisseau Sabrevois and goes through Parc Bois de Brouage, next to the de la Broquerie School.  But for all intents and purposes, I shall continue to call it “My river”, OK?  OK.  Where was I?  Yes, on the east side.  For some strange reason, the water sounds so much more thunderous on this side.  Drowns out any and all thoughts as I sit there, in that sno-cone snow, getting wetter and wetter (thank goodness for snowpants, is all I can say) and feeling freer and freer.

Before the wet seeps all the way through, I decide it’s time to make my way back.  By now I am feeling centred once again.  Leftover pici, a quick shower and a Skype chat with Rochelle and I sit down to write this post!  Iain announces he will make supper but “snacks” at 5:00 pm with a Kimchi bowl and a Ristorante pizza.  Right.  And what the hell time will he be ready for supper? (Really, Rog?  You had a bowl of pasta at like, 3:00 pm?  You can’t be in any rush to eat supper, can you?)

So, here I am, just before 7:00 pm, writing this post when my cell rings.  It’s my neighbour’s (ok, 5 houses down, neighbour) alarm company telling me they are dispatching a police cruiser as their alarm went off.  I tell them I shall go see what’s up and let them know.  Right.  Put on my boots and coat, grab their house key and off I go.  Waitaminute… is that wise?  What if there IS someone in the house?  Who am I to go snooping?  OK. Breathe.  This is CANADA.  I get there, the house is dark and silent.  I open the gate to the backyard, see no footprints towards the back door.  I call the company and tell them all is quiet and ask should I go in?  Get some inane, “Well, should we cancel the police?” answer.  How the fuck should I know?  I decide to put my on big-girl pants and open the door, turn off the alarm and go in.  All is quiet.  A walk around the main floor confirms there is nothing to worry about.  Hey, did the grandkids put all those stickers on the patio door?  Cute.  Gonna have to mention it to Parvin.  I tell the dispatcher to cancel the police, reset the alarm, lock up and leave.  False alarm.  I can breathe.

Get home and realise that Iain is too busy chilling with Luca so I make a quick pasta using his sauce.  Add some pancetta, chopped veg, his sauce and toss with pasta shells.  Voilà!  Supper at “l’heure des riches” (Rich people time) at 8:00 pm!

Come back to my post but end up chatting with my new buddy Marc(o) from Sorryless.   We have become fast friends (thank you, Frank!)  and chat about anything and everything.  He writes divinely and is very encouraging to me as well as being just the right amount of nudge.  Yes, I will find someone to tape my cooking videos!

The day has come to a close, it is almost midnight.  I don’t feel as disturbed and maybe I’m not fully centred but I am definitely working my way towards it.




One Break Too Many – Friday Fictioneers

Good  Wednesday, my Peeps!  Rochelle tried to pull a fast one on us and posted her story yesterday – we’ll blame WordPress for that one.  However, I was not falling for that trick 😉  Besides, I was busy on another post so… here I am today!

I showed this image to François, my beau, and he told me his story.  This is a big-time, cut-down version of it.  Ya know, we only have 100 words… I so hope I didn’t lose too much.

Thank you, always to Rochelle for keeping us together as a family of FF.  Thank you to J.Hardy Carroll for this great picture.

Come and play with us.  Write a 100-word story inspired by this image and add your link by clicking on the blue frog.  Easy-peasy!  Well… getting a story down to 100 words isn’t so much, but it is a great challenge!

Get the code for your’n

Genre:  Inspired by true events

Word count:  Please.

One Break Too Many

“This is the third time you’ve broken your nose, Frank.  You can’t anymore. I won’t be able to fix it.  You have to learn to harness your anger on the ice.  Hockey is not a big brawling session, you know!”

Tampons in his nose, blackened eyes, and bruised cheeks, Frank made his way home.  “He’s right.  I need to change my attitude if I don’t want to end up in jail one day.”  Muttering to himself, he came upon a boxing gym.

“Ya wanna fight, Frank?”   He walked in and signed up.  The discipline changed his life, the anger released.


A Break From the Noise

“Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.”
Gautama Buddha

Started this post yesterday but got a surprise visit from François and, before I knew it, we were shopping for flooring for the damned basement, so I put this aside 😉   Now, having brought up the problem with the boys’ effing toilet, I write between being official helper to my handyman and cooking supper and seeing him off 😉


Woke up yesterday morning to a very drab day.  Thought “ah man, really?   Then, as I was pfaffing away on Facebook, the sun decided to make its appearance.  We-hell now…  Just the kick in the pants I needed to get off my arse.  I was really feeling the need to go out and walk out my thoughts.   I have so many things swirling around my brain, it keeps me up at night and I involuntarily stress about getting it all done.  Meditation or purging of thought is needed!  My type of meditation does not require contorted legs, sore back, numb bum and some mantra repeated endlessly.  I’m way too ADHD for that shizzle.  No… gimme a walk ouside in the fresh air towards no definitive destination or towards a potential woods, park, whatever, I care not.   All I need is my dog, my camera (‘coz you just never know what you’ll see that you want to capture when you’re a wanna-be photographer and sometimes you want more than your phone camera), the proper clothes for the weather, and I will be one with the Universe.

Somehow, the things that are preoccupying me are replaced sometimes by a song that gets stuck in my head, sometimes words form into a Haiku – I’ll find myself randomly counting out my syllables.  And if a good one does appear, I record it on my phone because sure as shit it’ll be gone by the time I get home!  Sometimes I’ll get brilliant ideas for blog posts – most of which never see the light of day.

But sometimes, my mind goes blessedly blank.  I hear the tweets and birdsongs, the traffic, the silence.  I see the colours, the shapes, the birds and squirrels.  I let Zeke go off leash once we reach a park and I’ve made sure no one else is present.  Not that he would run off, but just in case they are scared of big beasts.  He’s a big beast!  Both of us alone together.

Once I hit the first park just off du Perche (never remember the name), I had to concentrate on the shimmy/slide/shuffle/sashay just to remain upright!  The walkway was icy.  No room for random thoughts when you are just trying to not end up landing hard on your hiney.  But the air was a nice mixture of crisp and clear and the sky so blue and the colours of the abandoned playground just popped, that it made the efford worthwhile.  I felt everything lift off my shoulders – at least for a while.

I decided that I was only going as far as my favourite willow tree because, frankly, the shimmy/slide/shuffle/sashay was a workout in itself.  No need to do the full 10K to feel like a workout!  Plus, the weather app said it was a balmy +4ºC (39ºF) with the windchill of 0ºC (32ºF) and I felt overdressed.  The amount you sweat also helps measure the workout.  Right?

How nice.  Once we crossed de Normandie Street and onto the little roadway, there was no ice/snow.  Till we reached the end of the road, of course!  A rest, so to speak!

The wind was perfect for me to brush Zeke.  He HATES being brushed.  No, LOATHES it.  So a whine here, a move over here, he finally, in an attempt to get me to stop, he lay down on his side, presenting me with his belly.   He he he.  Sucks to be you, Zeke!  I got to remove MOUNTAINS of fur.  The wind was great, I had fur flying all over the place:  down the trail, over the rocks, all over my pants, in my mouth.  Great.   After I had removed the equivalent of a small wiff-waff (you know, a kickable, like a Pomeranian or a Shihtzu…) I put away the comb.  I hurried to tie Zeke as a woman and her dog were coming towards us.  The woman asked if it was okay for our dogs to meet and I confirmed that I had a big suck of a dog.  Billie, her golden, was not impressed.  At the tender age of two, she bared her teeth.  Zeke, however, was not impressed nor afraid so he pursued her.  His charms did not work overly well but he kept on checking.  Small world that we live in, Billie’s owner had a voice that I recognised.  When we introduced ourselves, we realised that we did know each other.  Nancy’s son plays golf at the club where I work and while he plays, she whiles away her time in the restaurant/bar…


As you can see by the sky in the background, the sun was making itself scarce.  Nancy though I was smart to wear snowpants and a tuque and decided she’d had enough.  The wind had picked up and I had a decent trek home so we exchanged “See you at the golf clubs” and moved our separate ways.

Walking back, I became even more focused on the colours that popped out of the strangest places.  Strange is probably a strong word but I felt like my senses were on alert.  Or my eyeballs were!

The “vinaigrier” which literally translates to vinegar plant, but which I finallly decided to google and find out is really called a Virginia Sumac (though I can’t be certain and don’t really care) is basically an invasive bush that is boring in summer, outstanding in autumn and adds a pop of colour in winter.  I love photographing it 3/4 of the year.  On our way out of the park, I am always fascinated by this little cabin that looks like it belongs in some long-lost forest, is actually next to a boulevard!  I loved the little bush with so many colours, like it thought it was still autumn, and wanted to stand out and finally, there were so many reflections in puddles and one in particular actually made me stop.

Did I solve any of my issues that have been bugging me?  Not a one.  Did I, for a couple of hours completely release all my worries.  Oh yes.  Completely.

I like to think that my two hour meditation did manage to liberate some space in my brain so that I may actually feel I’lle be able to accomplish some of that which needs attending to.

Or maybe I just took some time for me (and Zeke) to just be.

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

26. Enjoying the colours of winter
27. Running into acquaintances
28. Brushing Zeke
29. Reflections in puddles
30. Taking time for me

A Tuscan Feast

“The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living…”
Dione Lucas

 As this is a post about food and Italy, here’s a little dinner music to keep you company as you read 😉

I thought for sure that this morning I would be suffering from dysania, but no.  The alarm clock went off for François at 6:25 and I was wide-awake.  Dammit.  I had been planning on sleeping in and being totally lazy today.

For those of you who don’t know, in September 2016, I went to Tuscany all by myself.  BEST. TRIP. EVER.  My first week of that trip was spent with the fabulous Cook in Tuscany group, created by the wonderful and irrepressible hosts, Linda and George, and 13 other fantabulous participants, learning how to cook Tuscan food and experiencing a lot of what the area had to offer.  A dream of mine since forever.

Fast-forward to last night.  Okay, maybe not so fast.  It has been one and a half years since said trip.  It was about bloody time I had my sisters and their hubbies over to show off what I had learnt.  (Thank you, Tracy, for nudging me…)

I warned them to come bellies empty because I had a lot to show them!

“I like a cook who smiles out loud when he tastes his own work.
Let God worry about your modesty; I want to see your enthusiasm.”
Robert Farrar Capon

To get us started on the right foot, I served Aperol Spritz – did I take a picture?  No.  So right.  With our cocktails we had two kinds of bruschette.  Bean and onion and the classic tomato.  I only cut and toasted so many slices so that no one over-exaggerated…

Once they had a little food in their bellies, I put them all to work!  To truly appreciate Pici, one must roll with the dough 😉

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
Laurie Colwin

Having worked for their supper, they were then allowed into the dining room for the first course, a Tuscan tomato and bread soup.  Now.  I may have screwed up a bit.  I had toasted my bread ahead of time and was supposed to add it to my soup in bits and pieces till I felt there was enough.  In my usual over-zealousness, I dumped the whole bowl into the pot.  Um.  Can we call it Bread and Tomato soup instead?  No one seemed to mind and hey, Tuscan cooking is all about stretching out what one has….  All around, it was declared delicious.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
Julia Child

As I had not quite finished preparing my crumbs for the pici, I had them all come back, with their glass of wine, into the kitchen to keep me company (next house, OPEN CONCEPT).  This was a very interactive meal, in case you’ve not noticed 😉

When in Sienna, I went to visit one of the Frescobaldi vineyards, Castel Giocondo, in Montalcino.  I splurged (BIG time) and bought two bottles of their Brunello.  These I kept for this special night.  We decided to decant each one and oh wow.  They were both fantastic.

Pici now cooked and sautéed, it was back to the dining room!  Before Tuscany became the “go-to” vacation spot, even for Italians, they were quite poor.  Salt was used sparingly on food, kept mostly for preserving.  Not everyone could afford cheese, so they “cheated” by cooking stale bread crumbs in olive oil.  It truly gives incredible flavour.  Everyone loved their pasta – it was theirs, they rolled it, after all!

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”
M.F.K. Fisher

While we were enjoying our pasta, the pork tenderloin and grilled veggies were being warmed in the oven so there was no longer a need to dance between rooms.

I did, however, remember that I had a bottle of Grappa.  Instead of sipping it as a digestif after the meal, we used it as a “Trou Normand” – a shot which, as they say, serves to make room for the next course.

This was a cheat in the whole Italian evening and I may get a frown from a true Italiano but I’m willing to take my chances.  Besides, the deed is done.

We’re still smiling.  Certainly  not because we are overstuffed.  Yet.

You still with me?

The meal is not quite done!  Time for dessert.  I made panna cotta with two sauces, chocolate and strawberry.  Pick one, pick none or pick both!

“A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch. ”
James Beard

Coffee was served and one would think that it ended there, right?  Wrong.

A little Vin Santo and Cantucci to cap it all off… hoping no one would be feeling crapulous after such a feast!

“I lurched away from the table after a few hours feeling like Elvis in Vegas – fat, drugged, and completely out of it.”
Anthony Bourdain


A Café of One’s Own – What Pegman Saw

I haven’t done a “Pegman” in a couple of weeks, and frankly, should be cooking as I am having my Tuscan feast for my sisters and their hubbies tonight but I “just took a peak at what the destination was”.  And then looked around to see if anything caught my eye and well, something obviously did because here I am!

This week Pegman is back in Europe, visiting the Czech Republic for the first time. You’re invited to stroll the city of Karlovy Vary and choose your own view. Take your inspiration and write no more 150 words. Once your poem, story, or essay is polished, share it with others at the link up below:

A Café of One’s Own

Monique looked around the room with satisfaction.  Her first visit to this place had charmed her, but never did she think she would one day own it!

Funny how life works.  She always thought she would one day end up in Italy, working in a café in Venice, yet somehow ended up in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.  Love can do that to a person.  You meet someone, fall in love, he brings you to his hometown, and next thing you know, you are no longer just a tourist.  Life could not be any better.  Over the years, the streets along the canal have become your streets, the people, your people.   You have now mastered the language you never thought you could and you feel like you belong.

Then he tells you that he no longer loves you.

Monique admired her new café and smiled.  Life could not be any better.