Monthly Archives: May 2009

Dreadful Dreams & Yummy Soup

My ice cream... which dripped all over my pants as I took this picture

My ice cream... which dripped all over my pants as I took this picture

I went to bed relatively early last night, awoken periodically by the going-ons in my house. When I was asleep, I had the most stressful dreams. I dreamt that I went to visit my childhood home, where my father still lives, yet when I arrived from Montreal I found it abandoned. There were evil blonde teenagers trying to break in at the back of the house for fun, which I managed to shoo away in my dream.

When I went around the front of the house, I found the whole front yard and garden under muddy brown waters. My dog, Billy, was clinging for dear life on the roof of his dog house in the flood. I tried to send him some food via a floating dog food dish, but the current was too unpredictable, so I managed to fling some soft dog food onto the roof of his house for him to eat.

It was during this, that Tristan suddenly appeared, hovering over my shoulder,  to critique the design of Billy’s doghouse, which my Dad had built out of wood, with insulated walls and a shingled roof. Tristan kept on going on about what a stupid idea it was, and didn’t listen to my practical explanation on how the design makes sense for an outdoor dog in the country. Like usual, I lost the fight, and Tristan evaporated into thin air.

I went back inside to call my Mum to ask her what was up with Dad’s house. When I got her on the phone, she told me Dad had been forced to abandon his house because the federal inspectors didn’t think it was aesthetically up to par with today’s homes, and that it needed a million dollars worth of repairs. I was shocked, so decided to go back to Montreal, but the train station had been turned into an indoor swimming pool with dolphins, so I couldn’t get home. I awoke, petrified.

After such an unpleasant night, I decided to make the best of my day. I went grocery shopping, pumped the wheels of my bike, went to the post office to mail my Dad’s birthday card and my letter to my friend Caitlin, and returned the video Tristan and I had rented a few nights ago when he was visiting. On my way home, I happed to find myself in the park by my house, so I decided to go get some ice cream.

The cheerful owner was there serving when I got there, who greets everyone was such grace. I got pistachio ice cream on a sugar cone, and sat outside to eat it. The enjoyed listening to the breeze in the trees, the patter of the grand Victorian fountain nearby, and  watch the little dogs and cute boys walk by. It was very pleasant.

When I got home, I realized I’d forgotten to buy carrots at the grocery store, so I trotted on over to the small vegetable seller near my house. I went a bit bananas at the store, adding alpha sprouts, asparagus, fresh dill, celery, and zucchini to my basket. I had decided to make a killer vegetable stew. I had been eating so unhealthily lately, I thought a big pot of soup may distract me away from easy meals of cheese on baguette and vermicelli.

I had a jolly old time making the soup. I tried to remember what my dad did when he made his winter stews which I have such fond memories of. I added chili powder which I recalled him using, and added other random spices that I found on the shelf. The end result was a huge pot of soup, not as flavourful as my dad’s, but still pretty damn good. I had two huge bowls of soup while watching an episode of Poirot in my room, then heated up a croissant laden with chocolate chips and a bit of rosemary. It made for a very delicious dessert.

And now I sit at home, plotting my next move. Do I have a disco nap before I go out with Nicole, or do I job search and drink lots of green tea? Hm.

Wood Veneer

My hand in the light. Photo courtesy of Nicole.

My hand in the light. Photo courtesy of Nicole.

My friend Nicole invited me a friend-of-a-friend’s mansion just outside of Montreal. It was this huge neo-classical style house on the lake, with an indoor swimming pool, movie theater to seat 30, and twice as many bathrooms as there were bedrooms (with heated toilet seats that open and close upon entering/exiting the room!). It was surreal!

Nicole and I had great fun gallivanting about the house. We took almost 300 pictures of us doing silly things… staging a murder on the staircase, bathing in a bathroom that was the equivalent to Versailles, driving the family’s sportscar, and swimming in the heated pool. It was pretty great.

The house itself had a strong ‘wow’ effect, but with a suburban middle-class look to it. It seemed rather odd for the appreciation for a design and luxury not to be carried through to the interior decorating. The furniture had either a wood veneer or plastic coating, there were plaqued posters hung on the wall instead of real art, and many of the light fixtures had a tacky, 1980’s feel to them.

Visiting the house was a real was an eye-opener for me. It made me reflect on stereotypes, values, money, and culture. I had always envisioned the rich as BMV drivers, shopping at Whole Foods and living in Knoll homes, surrounded by things of quality. Instead, these rich shopped at Costco, used paper cups instead of a travel mug everyday for their morning coffee, had posters of Marilyn Monroe and Coca Cola ads on the wall, and ate out every day at local diners rather than use their gorgeous AGA cooker (I went gaga over the stove).

I felt as if I had better quality stuff in the single room I rent than in the living room of this grand house. I have seen nicer interiors in the homes of poor artists than here, and a respect for contemporary art and the environment. I feel like those who have the freedom that money allows, should support the arts, and change their homes and businesses to be more eco-friendly, not use money to throw away on heating toilet seats and lighting up the whole house while you drive off to dinner…

They were two of the nicest people I have met though, and made excellent hosts. They were very down to earth people (well, not environmentally) and I enjoyed their company very much. I was just pondering a lot during the visit, rethinking stereotypes and value systems…

PS: Godiva chocolate is not worth it. It may have luxurious packaging, but you are much better off going to Soma in the Distillery District of Toronto, or buying Dolfin chocolate at your local grocery store.

And hey, my work in typography for the visually impaired got recognized in the Ryerson University podcast! Yay! Here is the press release:

http://www.ryerson.ca/news/forumonline/0905/brown.html

and here is the podcast:

http://www.ryecast.ryerson.ca/facultystreams/users/courses/forum/forum0905.mp3 (I’m about half way in).

Tapenade & Olive Oil

A beautiful planter on St. Denis.

A beautiful planter we encountered on St. Denis.

As there was no food in the house today, Tristan and I decided to go out for breakfast. We went to Coffee Depot, which has the most wonderful pastries, despite the poor name choice (really, what were they thinking?!). We each got a beer mug filled with fresh coffee, with Tristan ordering a cranberry brioche, and I an almond croissant. The croissant was amazing. It was bursting with delicious almond paste, and the outside was sprinkled with so many almond slivers that you could hardly tell that it was a croissant. I was in pastry heaven!

After we had fueled up on caffeine and sugar, we went grocery shopping. We stopped in practically every small deli and grocers along Boul. St. Laurent between Prince Arthur and Duluth. We got brie, goat cheese, tapenade, olive oil, garlic, and muffin mix. Tristan (a vegetarian) encouraged that we stop into Schwartz’s for lunch, which was fabled to have the best smoked meat in Montreal.

Schwartz’s was a burst with people, and there was a line out the door. As there were only two of us, it didn’t take long for a space at one of the tables to open up. We ordered Coke, fries and a simple sandwich, which was quickly brought to our table. We had the best service I have experienced in a very long time. Our waiter with friendly, courteous, attentive, and ideal in every way. Our entire meal cost $10.95, and the establishment was the equivalent to Honest Eds in Toronto, but I could have been eating at a five star restaurant, just judging by the wait staff. I was very impressed!

After lunch, we continued our walk, this time turning down Duluth into a part of town I believe to be the Portuguese area. It was all cobblestone roads and fabulous little houses. When we turned onto St. Denis, we came across the most delightful planter, painted canary yellow with periwinkle details (see above). It was just stunning, we just had to take some pictures. I consider myself to be an overly cautious and rather empathetic person, but in this instance I ignored all etiquette and spent twenty minutes taking photos on this person’s front steps. It was too beautiful to pass up.

Now I sit at home, having just uploaded my pictures from my camera. Tristan has gone off to the library to work on his essay, and I will do my daily job-search. Today I am going to look into telemarketing. Wish me luck!

Gallivanting Around

In a cafe with Tris.

In a cafe with Tris.

My friend Tristan came up from Toronto to visit this Thursday. We’ve been having a grand ol’ time gallivanting around Montreal. Everything have meshed together in my mind, so I can’t do a proper Thursday through Tuesday blog entry, so I will just write about today as it is fresh in my mind.

Tristan and I had a picnic today in the park by my house. We brought an avocado, sun dried tomatoes, and sprouts with us, and bought a fresh baguette and a bottle of Orangenia along the way. We made ourselves the most lovely sandwiches while sitting on the park bench, using Tristan’s pocket knife as a utensil. It was an ideal makeshift lunch.

After lunch, we went for a walk. We checked out the menus of all the Greek restaurants along the way, and went to  the SAQ to pick up some wine for dinner. The sun was hurting my eyes, so we went in search of some cheap sunglasses. We found a 2 for $10 place, where I found a vintage-look pink pair and Tristan got space-age visor sunglasses that make him look like an alien (I wouldn’t let him wear them while walking next to me).

Now I sit at home. Tristan has gone to the library to work on his essay while I finally get to write a blog entry. Yay!

French Maid

Leaves in the park

Leaves in the park

Today I went for a bike ride with Nicole. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, so she took me to a park near my house which had a large pond and paved paths that ran under shady trees. We went round and round the park, admiring the sun tanners and happy dogs. There was even a Maison de Cyclists across from the park which made me very excited. I couldn’t stop saying its name, which was just as charming as the green canopy and old fashioned script on its windows.

We decided to go in search of ice cream. As there was nothing at this park, we decided to go to the next park over, which lies between mine and Nicole’s house. There is a round, stone Victorian building there which I’ve always been curious to go into, so Nicole decided to bring me there.

What joy! What glory! This ice cream place was amazing. They had an array of flavours of gelato, and the most delicious looking cakes. Everything was in French, so I had no clue what I was looking at, but it all looked fantastic. There was this one fine cake that I instantly wanted to try with my Mum when she comes to visit, and crepes I thought would be great fun to have with Tristan  as a treat.

The prices were very reasonable, especially considering the quality of food at hand. I got pear and caramel gelato on a sugar cone for only $2.50, and Nicole got a big, frothy milkshake made with real cocoa for only one dollar more! We sat on the yellow wooden chairs on the patio, enjoying our cool delights, listening to the Spanish guitar musician play on a bench nearby. It was lovely.

Now I sit at home, taking a break from the afternoon’s cleaning. I feel like the housekeeper. I need a little French Maid outfit. Now, wouldn’t that be cute?

But hey seriously, if you know of anywhere you can get cute French maid outfits inexpensively, let me know. It would make my work here so much more exciting. lol

Happy Dogs & Almond Scones

Monday, May 18th/19th 2009

Today I went for a picnic on Mount Royal. This park officially makes Montreal better than Toronto. Montreal may not have Kensington Market, but it does have a FOREST in the centre of the CITY!!! Like how many cities can boast that? 15 minute bike ride from home, and ta da– its as if you’re in the countryside. Montreal is fabulous!

I got terribly lost in the park, and even more lost on my way out. I was meeting Nicole and her friends at Beaver Lake for a Victoria Day picnic, and it took me an hour or more to finally get up the hill. It was a fabulous bike ride, very challenging, but enjoyable. All I could see were the glorious trees around me, happy dogs on walks, and children and their grandparents (more fit than I) charging up the hill. There were interesting waterworks as well, which I took a short video of (see above) of these brick gutters bringing water down the hill to an old fountain for horses. It was quite marvelous!

The picnic was pleasant. We sat in the sun, playing word games and munching on biscuits and cheese. Time flew by, and before I knew it, the time was 5:00! I was to meet a friend for martinis at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel at 6:00, so asked my picnic pals if they knew a quick way down the hill. They pointed me in the direction of a road that went along the Mount Royal cemetery, so I went that way. It was rather foreboding speeding down a windy hill on my rickety bicycle, riding right next to the burial ground of a thousand dead bodies. However, it is humourous in retrospect.

When I came to a fork in the road, I had no idea which way to turn. Both roads went downhill, and I couldn’t tell which way was east or west. So, I went down the one that went left, hoping it would bring me back to Parc Ave. Unfortunately it did not, and I ended up in Hampstead, the English part of Montreal.

I missed my martini date, and ended up taking the metro home with my bike, which was an adventure in itself. The Montreal metro is a series of stairs that take you very deep underground. I don’t know what the elderly or disabled do, because I could not see an elevator anywhere.

When I finally got home, all I wanted to do was sleep. So, I put on Elizabeth: The Golden Age (visually stunning film with a dull script) and called it an early night. The next morning, I got up at 8am to return Nicole’s laptop and go to Java U to try their almond scones, which a friend had raved about. They were quite good! Lemon and almond have got to be my two favourite dessert flavours. Yum yum!

So, now I sit in the McGill music library, feeling very naughty indeed posing as a music student. Today I plan to finish my coverletters for the three jobs at Le Chateau I’m applying for, and the magazine intern job too. Wish me luck!

The Rustle of Leaves

Today was yet another cold, windy day. However, I felt very cheerful getting up this morning. Perhaps it was because I was closing the sale of my EEE PC, or maybe it was because my housemates were alive and well when I spoke to them while preparing breakfast. Either way, I was much more cheerful than I had been the past few days.

I met the buyer for my EEE PC G2 laptop in Old Montreal. I had many replies to my ad once I added photographs to the posting, but he was one of the few who actually sent me a polite and intelligent e-mail. So, I met him at his workplace in a beautiful art deco building. It was all brass and marble, and looked out on the Notre Dame Basilica. He was very talkative and good natured, so I gave him a good deal on the price of my computer. It helps to be friendly.

After we closed the sale of my laptop, I decided to get a hit of caffeine. I bicycled down the cobble stone roads to the water, in search of an appropriate cafe to satisfy my craving. I found a place called Marche Serafim, down a small side street that looked out on the port, and sat next to a small chapel with a gold statue of Mary out front. I ordered a black coffee and a jam cookie, and sat enjoying my simple luxuries while watching the people pass by the cafe window.

On my way home, I stopped in the park by my house to write a letter to my grandparents. It was a perfect setting for a story as the sky was so dark and grey so early in the day. Children were playing in the fountain, and running around with fallen twigs and sticks. Pigeons cooed softly at my feet and the wind sounded so beautiful, rustling the leaves of the trees all around me. I felt very content sitting there.

When I got home, I did some house cleaning, and had an avocado for lunch. Now I sit in the couch at the front of the house, listening to the traffic pass outside and the soft buzz of appliances inside. It’s been a peaceful Sunday; very restful indeed.