#WeekendCoffeeShare – In Which I Played Tour Guide

Good evening my Blogger Friends!  It’s Sunday evening and I am in no mood for coffee.  Red wine for me!

First things first, however.  Thank you Emily from Nerd in the Brain for hosting our Coffee Talk!  For anyone wanting to join in on the fun, just click on the coffee cup above and you’ll be directed to her site where you can add your link or click on the link and read other stories.

Now, without further ado… My week.  Oy!  What a fantabulous week!  No, I shall not talk about my water woes other than to say that one issue has been fixed and one has been diagnosed – not in the manner in which I would prefer… Next subject!

If we were having coffee, or frankly, it is Sunday night, so, if you want that hot beverage spiked, just say so, I’ve got a lovely collection of liqueurs that could be added.  I might even be able to whip up some cream as a topping, should you wish!  I, on the other hand, shall go and get myself a nice glass of wine.  I also have white or rosé, should you prefer!

If we were sharing a nice beverage, I would tell you that I had a most wonderful week with Alison.  Who is Alison, you ask?  Would you imagine?  Last September, I went to Tuscany for almost three weeks.  The first week was a cooking week with Cook in Tuscany and where I met Alison.  I wrote part of my story  here.  (I’ve got a few posts still to go to bring it all up to speed – yeah, yeah, I know.  Way late!  Anyway.)  Well, as happens when you spend a full week with a group (we were 14 in all), friendships form.  We exchanged emails and quite a few of us are now Facebook friends.  Alison asked me if I was serious when I said, should you come to visit Montreal, let me know.  I responded absolutely!

She said cool… She’d be in Montreal from Tuesday, April 18th, till Saturday, April 22nd.  I offered my home for her to stay in but she is very allergic to cats and I’ve two of them.   She was very content to stay in an AirBnB in downtown Montreal and I was happy to go pick her up daily so we could do the tourist thing.

Alison really wanted to see our Montreal Symphony Orchestra and had asked me to look into buying tickets.  Then Punta Cana happened and I got all involved in the passport thing and the trip itself and…. When she texted me saying,  “So? Where are we sitting?”  I had to sheepishly admit I had failed at purchasing them.  I did manage to get us tickets for the first night but we’d not be sitting together.  She said what did it matter?  It’s not like we are going to talk while the music is playing… she had a point.  I had never been to our new Symphony House so I didn’t know what the seating was like.  There were some seats behind the musicians but I didn’t dare take them.  I should have.  It’s not like I could see the faces of anyone way up in the balcony!

Picked up Alison at the airport at 5pm, drove through the traffic to bring her to her apartment.  She changed and we made our way down to the “Quartier des Spectacles” in Montreal, parked and attempted to find something decent to eat.  Problem was it was also a hockey night so all restaurants were filled to the rim.  Ended up eating two steamies and greasy fries at Lafleur!  Sheesh.  Quite the beginning!

We made our way to the new (well, new to me, but open since 2011) MSO Symphony Hall to enjoy the concert Brel Symphonique.  Fans of Jacques Brel were treated to interpretation by mostly Québécois singers.  We were not disappointed.  Alison’s goal was to hear the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and she found the 81 members for this concert amazing.  I was not disappointed because I love Jacques Brel’s music and I found that the 10 artists did a wonderful job interpreting his songs along with the wonderful orchestration by the MSO.

As Alison had been up since very early, she was ready to hit the hay for the next day of adventures!

Wednesday morning, I picked her up and we made our way to St. Joseph’s Oratory.   We explored every floor, nook and cranny that we could.  Of course, once we were ready to go, it started to rain, so we didn’t take a picture of the oratory from the street!  Alison didn’t believe me when I told her that you could always find at least one person climbing the steps on their knees…

We worked up our hunger (it was near 2:00 pm!) so we made our way to Côte-des-Neiges Street and into McCarold’s Irish Pub for a delicious burger and fries.

My son’s friend was coming to do some of the plumbing – no, we’re not talking about my water woes! – and I wanted to be there when he did so we made our way to my house.  A tour of the mess and then we just sat and chitchatted.  And eventually got hungry so I made a vegetable & tortellini “Stoup” and heated up a frozen baguette.  Voilà!  Supper is served.  Alison was my expert stirrer…

On Thursday, we drove around the different boroughs of Montreal so I could show Alison the “Stairs of Montreal” and we wound up in Little Italy and the Jean-Talon Market.  It is such a fabulous place in summer but does remain open year-round (maybe 1/5 to 1/4 of it?)  We then made our way to Outremont, which has a totally different vibe, drove up Mount Royal, walked around Beaver Lake then made our way to the Camilien Houde Promontory to see a view of Montreal.  Though not raining, it was sort of clear…  Oh!  And as I drove around to the front of the entrance of Mount Royal where there are statues and, in the summer, the Tam-Tam players, I kept wondering why there were so many cops!  I sent Alison out to take some pics while I stayed in the car, illegally parked, and she came back stating there was quite the scent around the place.  D’oh!  It was 420 – Weed Day!

All that walking around made us hungry, so we made our way to Old Montreal.  We had a show at the Notre Dame Basilica (Aura) at 6 pm so we figured we’d have time to walk around and admire the old buildings and whatnot after lunch.  We ate outside in a heated terrasse (yes, I spell it the French way because we say it the French way!)  I wanted to bring Alison to the Jardin Nelson but it was closed for the day. Grrr.  So we went to Le Fripon.  No regrets!  After a delicious pizza, we made our way to the Basilica and enjoyed the Aura light show.  Truly beautiful.  A tad pricey for the amount of time we spent there, I have to admit but there was still no regret at having watched the light show.

I had never seen these two statues and the plaque explaining them….  They are so representative of the English-French thing that we have going on in our province!

Not yet hungry, we decided to go have a drink.  I decided we should go to Crescent Street where there are so many happening places.  I was telling her about Winnie’s and Margo and how she was THE bartender for years, knowing many Montreal writers and such but that she had taken her retirement and… bloody hell!  Who is at Winnie’s?  Margo!  Unknowingly, it was the 50th anniversary of the club and it was Bartenders Alumni Night!  Score!  What a perfect ending to a perfect day.  We decided to stay and have a late supper.  Introduced Alison to poutine, to boot…

So now it is Friday.  Our last full day to do stuff.   And I’m expecting a plumber to come and check out the mess – but we’re not talking about that, right?  As well, I have an 80th birthday cake to make for a friend of mine so my time is kinda wack.  I pick up Alison at 10:30 and off we go to the Biodome or Biosphere.  This was originally the American pavilion during Expo 67.  It was a spectacular sight then and in 1976, the outside walls (or membrane) caught fire but the original structure remained intact.  The Biodome became a natural museum and is most interesting.  I figured it was close enough to my house so we would be able to get to my house quickly should said plumber call.  There are a few halls closed for preparation of Montreal’s 375 birthday celebration so price is cut in half.  I’m jiggy wid it…   We enter one of the rooms for a 360º presentation but 2/3 of the screens are blank.  Not good.  I go out and advise the people in charge and they come and fix it.  In the meantime, we go to see other interesting things on the planet, global warming and such and make our way back to the original hall for the next presentation in English.  Very interesting and as we leave, my phone rings and it’s my son telling me the plumber is there.  Sigh. So much for him calling first…

We decided to lunch on my leftover stoup and, once the plumbing done, made our way back to Montreal.  It was a bleary day.  (Seriously, Alison was so not lucky weather-wise!)  We decide to take in the Chagall exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  Park the car, make our way there and I find it weird there is no one at the reception.  Wait in line at the VIP line only to be told that the museum closes at 5 pm.  It was 4:50.  Ugh.  Only on Wednesdays is the museum open until 9 PM.  Dammit.   A lovely woman tells us, hey, if you want to, across the street at the Bourgie Hall, you can have a concert and a private tour of the exhibition.  Well.   We immediately crossed over and paid the fee.  Oh my goodness!  What a score!  We had the most wonderful guide Elena (Elaina? Elayna?) who knew her stuff.  It was a speedy tour, to be sure, and just whetted my appetite to return before it is gone.

 

After that, we settled into our seats in the converted church and enjoyed – well, I cannot lie, I am not a fan of Stravinsky but still.  The first half was a Stravinsky piano piece for four hands and the second was a piano duet for two pianos by Francis Poulenc.  The pianists were James Anagnoson and Leslie Kinton, celebrating 40 years of playing together!

They did a bang-up job!  By the end of the concert, it was almost 8 PM so we were hungry and I brought Alison to the Gay Village and my most favourite restaurant, Mozza Pâtes et Passions.  There is no place like it.  I told Alison she must go to the bathroom.  And to bring her phone with her… 😉

Bathroom at Mozza

The next morning I had to go to a work meeting from 9:30 till 11:00, rush home to meet the foundation guy – no, we’re still not talking water woes – then finish the cake for my friend Martin B.  I picked up Alison around 1:30 and drove her to the airport.  Our five-day-extravaganza had come to an end already.

I cannot believe how many things we did in such a short time!  It was a blast and I was told I was a good tour guide.  Phew!

I hope I’ve not rambled on way too long.  It took me almost three days to write this thing as the weather has finally turned (doesn’t that figure, Alison?) so I did come in and out of the house between raking and stuff to write this!

Oh. My bad.  I almost forgot all the goodies Alison brought me as a thank you.  Sheesh.  She spoiled me with Louisiana hot sauces, an apron and a bottle of wine!  All products from her home State of Louisiana.  Spoiled rotten, I tell ya!

Thanks to any of you who stuck it out and read the whole shebang!

See you next week!  I can promise you it will be way less exciting!

Lotsa love,

Dale

xoxo

 

 

It All Started With a Phone Call

A good while back, I let ya’all know that I would be starting to write my stories.  Well, more like my stories with Mick because, frankly, he was quite the inspiration, my muse, if you will.  The boy just knew how to attract, um, “situations”, yeah, that’s what we’ll call them!  But, before I can get into our (mis)adventures, I have to share just how we met!

Why start today?  Well, today would have been our twentieth anniversary together.  Instead of focusing on sadness and what-could-have-or-might-have-beens, I prefer to remember the good stuff.  The oh-so funny stuff.  Lord knows there are plenty of those!!

As my story was not accepted by Six Hens ~ no, no, say nothing ~ it was my fault.  I did not perfectly respect the guidelines.  I will for the next issue, though!  That said, I can now share with you what I sent them with a few extras thrown in!  So, without further ado…

It All Started With a Phone Call

In my thirtieth year a series of events happened: my marriage of 17 months came to an end, I lost my job and I could have lost the family house ~ the one I had bought from my parents when they split up.  I will forever be grateful to René for continuing to pay his share of the house, even though he had moved out.  He went above and beyond and will always have my respect.  He may not have been the man for me, but he is definitely a good man.

This six months sans job turned out to be a benefit to my sister as she had three babies at home and welcomed the daily help. Truth is, I didn’t mind the forced time off either – it was a fabulous time:  playing in the park, swinging babies, cuddling, sharing with my sister, walks in the snow.  All good.

In March, 2005, I found my dream job.  (If the head office had not moved to Toronto, I think I’d still be there!) Things were looking up.

I started thinking about going out and dating but, ugh! Did I really want to do the bar scene? That whole meeting-your-soul-mate-at-the-grocery-store only happened in movies!  Serendipity?  Well… some work is involved, no?  I had to create the occasions to meet people.  I couldn’t just sit on my butt waiting. What other options did I really have? Almost all of my friends were pretty much coupled and none of them seemed to have any single friends to set me up with.

Well.

A friend of mine, Kathy, who happened to be single at the time also, suggested I sign up with Tele Personals (This was 1995, the Internet was still reserved for computer geeks!)  Really? Do I look that desperate? Had she lost her mind?  Was she nuts?  No. She was none of those!  She convinced me it would be fun and really, what did I have to lose, anyway?  You made the arrangements.  You decided where and when to meet these guys so… don’t be stupid and go to public places!  Go for a coffee (a meal is way too much commitment!) and you can decide when it is worth more time and when it is not!  I thought it over and really, how else are you supposed to meet people if you don’t want to sit alone by a bar looking like some desperado?

So, I sucked it up and signed up ~ it was, after all, free for women. I met some really nice guys, some not-so-nice guys, some desperados and some that just didn’t click. It was funny to listen to guys’ messages: “considered good looking…” (yeah, to your mother!), looking for minimum 5’9”, blond, must be under 125 lbs…. (really? You want a Barbie?), etc.  I dated a few more than once and even ~ gasp! ~ met two in one day!!  What?  It was for coffee!  Kathy was right.  It was a lot of fun.  People in Quebec don’t know how to date anyway.  You meet someone, you date once and all of a sudden and you are “going steady”… Pfft.

And then one day, I heard a nice voice stating he was looking for someone to go biking with, to hang out with, go to movies; he did not describe himself at all and did not have a list of pre-requisites.  I liked his voice and his message, it all rang so sincere to my ears, so I left him a message.

Well, whenever someone leaves you a message, the first thing you do is listen to theirs!  Which is what he did, of course. I had specified in mine that I preferred a non-smoker so he left me a message saying that he would have liked to meet with me be but he was a smoker.  Hmmm. In my suddenly-single state, I had found myself having a teenage-like identity crisis. I was rebelling! Well, no, that is a small exaggeration. But, can you imagine, after eight smokeless years, I stupidly started up again? It was all innocent at first. Apparently pretty much all the guys I met on the system were non-smokers except when they had a social drink. So I’d have one here and there.  I started smoking during the meetings (strangely a lot easier to withstand when you are one of them) at work.  As a result, it didn’t quite matter as much that this nice-voiced guy was a smoker.  I then did something I never did! I gave him MY number! There must have been something in his voice that sounded trustworthy is the only explanation I can give.

So, it’s a Sunday morning, June 25th, and I’m basically lying in bed, listening to potential candidates’ messages when I get a beep stating I have a message in my voicemail. Oh! So, I switch over and get this message: “You obviously don’t have call waiting… so call me at 514…!”  It was Mick.

Well I did. We ended up talking for over two hours! I won serious brownie points when I told him that he was listening to good music as I could hear Genesis’ Cinema Show from Selling England By The Pound in the background.  It turned into a game of  “Guess what song this is?”  I would play something on my CD player and have him guess what I was listening to and vice-versa.  So silly. We decided that we just had to meet that very day. Problem was, he had a dinner at his best friend’s house (André) that night.   He said we could meet after supper as his friend would totally understand if he had to leave earlier than usual. He then suggested we go to the movies. Movies? Now he lost brownie points! How do you get to know someone if you are sitting in silence in a movie theatre?

I agree anyway and we checked the listings. Batman Forever was playing at the Loews, downtown Montreal, at 10:00 pm. We decided to meet there around 9:00 so we would have a chance to chat a bit before.   “I’ll be wearing cut-off jean shorts, a white blouse and red shoes”, I told him. It was not like it was the first time I met up with a blind date and there was something exciting about this one.

Phone Call

I stood by the west-side entrance of the now defunct Loews movie theatre and saw a nice-looking guy walking towards me. I just had a feeling it was him so I stuck out my right foot and wiggled it, showing my red shoes!  With a big smile he walked towards me.   Someone cut in front of him and stopped him.  After talking with her for a few minutes, he motioned me over and introduced me to Samantha, a friend from high school!  He told me later on he was so worried I’d think he was some kind of player!  Too funny.  If you knew Mick, you would know that there is no way in hell he could ever wear that title with comfort.  Sam left and we officially introduced ourselves to each other!  I suggested we go for an ice cream cone as we still had time to spare.  He agreed and we walked around looking for an ice cream parlour.  He first tried to bring me to one in one of the parks off Peel Street but it was closed; we then ended up going to some other little joint ~ the one detail I cannot for the life of me remember. (I found out much later that ice cream was the last thing he wanted to eat as his friend had served him a “Jurassic-Park-sized steak” and he was so stuffed, he could barely breathe!  No wonder it took him so long to eat it that the ice cream was melting faster than he could eat it. Gave me a chance to scope out his hands…

We slowly made our way back to the Loews, watched the movie, and then decided to go have a coffee. We were in no rush as neither one of us was working the following day so we walked towards Dunkin’ Donuts.

We sat on a bench for hours just talking, drinking our coffee.  It gave me the opportunity to see what a generous man he was as he handed out cigarettes and coins to various homeless men. It was almost 4:00 a.m. and I told him it felt like we were teenagers staying up all night at Prom! Then I said, “Hey, if we were at Prom, what would we be doing about now?” “Go up to the Mountain to watch the sunrise!” he exclaimed.  So we did. We walked up Peel Street, through the walkways, where we held hands for the first time. It was so quiet and we were the only ones up top on the Belvédère Kondiaronk, (a wide piece of land annexed to the Mount Royal Chalet) over-looking the City of Montreal. Some view! It was cloudy and muggy with no sun to be seen!  Perfect place to share our very first kiss.

Belvedere Kondiaronk

It must have been around 8:00 am and we were getting hungry. Not only that, our cars were parked on the street and we were in danger of getting parking tickets!  The holiday was officially on the 24th (a Saturday), so companies had the option of giving the Friday or the Monday off.  We both had the Monday. He asked me if he could make me breakfast. I accepted, so down the mountain we went to our respective cars and I followed him to his place. He got busy in the kitchen, making me an omelette, bacon, coffee… It was delicious! This guy was a keeper!

After breakfast he showed me a video of his shark dive in the Bahamas and then, because it was so hot, I asked him if he was shy about meeting my sister. She had a pool….  Well, guess what? He was all gung-ho and off we went to my sister Lisa’s where we splashed around like little kids and laughed and laughed until our bellies ached. I think I was not the only one who considered him a keeper…

He never slept in his apartment again.

It was basically the date that never ended.  All thanks to that first phone call.

When Pants Go Awry

This was the plan:  Have breakfast, wait for the morning rush hour to be over, pick up my dishes at my clients from the last catering job (and hopefully see an old friend or two who work there) and then take Zeke up to Mount Royal as the client’s biz is in what is known as the “Plateau Mont-Royal”, a walk from said Mount.

Made banana waffles for the boys, made their lunches, sent them off to school, drank my coffee, ate my waffle topped with Greek yogurt and blueberries with just a splash of maple syrup,  got dressed, grabbed my camera and off Zeke and I went.

Timing was perfect ~ no traffic whatsoever!  Drove through the alley to Elixir’s parking lot and buzzed myself in.  Oh happy days! Hélène was there and on top of that, it’s her birthday!  Hugs, kisses, a little bit of catch-up with promises of having lunch soon and we were off!

Drove a little ways and decided to go up to the Mount Royal Cemetery as I remembered there were nice woods to walk in… Spotted an old abandoned house and decided to walk up a ways to take a picture.  On my way back, had a nice view of one of the entrances to the Cemetery.

Of course, when a dog must “go”, he must “go”!  So, as any good pet-owner does, I reached down to pick up the poop and RRRRRIIIIIPPPP!

Seriously?

Here? Now?

Dammit!  Though much warmer than yesterday, the thought of traipsing through the woods ~ which are quite populated with hikers, cyclers, joggers ~ with my arse hanging out did not appeal to me!  No, seriously, I was not exposed at all, they were just right to become future Daisy Dukes were I 30 years younger.  No matter, let us just say that a draft was now a sure thing.

So, sorry Zeke, no long walk in the woods for you today.  As I was just around the corner to the Camillien Houde Belvedere, I did stop there to let him get a tad more air whilst I took a couple of shots of the City.

Yep, sometimes going with the flow, really means listening to the Universe!  Just yesterday when I put on same pants, I noted to myself:  “Gee, these are getting quite thin.  I may just have to go shopping soon.”  Be careful.  The Universe is ALWAYS listening!