Friday, September 26, 2008


This morning, we left the house around 9am and went to the EcoMuseum off chemin Ste-Marie in Ste-Anne de Bellevue. It's near McGills MacDonald college experimental farming/agriculture facility and the Morgan Arboretum, a place to visit another time.

You can take a virtual tour of the Ecomuseum here. Most of the animals at the ecomuseum are animals that for whatever reason cannot be returned to the wild. So this is a sanctuary for them. The only thing we didn't end up seeing, were butterflies in the butterfly garden. Perhaps because it was a grey day, and we didn't see any turtles at the turtle pond.

The picture is a Lynx at the Ecomuseum. He looked so bored, and blaze and fed up with life. Poor thing. Perhaps hadn't had his breakfast yet. We got to most of the exibits just before the personal feeding them. So we got to see them in food anticipation mode.

Around town

This week, despite feeling in the dumps because of my knee, I decided that since it was my last week vacation I ought to do something.

Thursday I decided we were going to go to Old Montreal. I hadn't brought Samer there yet, and no visit of Montreal is complete without a tour in Old Montreal. The oldest buildings date back from first colonization in the 1600's. Montreal's oldest building, the Sulpician Seminary build in 1684. It has a clock that was added in 1701, that is the oldest functioning such clock in all of North America. We took the commuter train from our suburb to downtown Montreal with my eldest at 2ish, she was heading for class. For $4.50 it takes 20-30 minutes from my house to get downtown. Handy if you work downtown, and you can get a monthly pass.

We got off at Central Station at Place Bonaventure. From there, we walked along St Antoine to McGill and starting going lower towards old Montreal. We went through Square Victoria. We turned on Notre Dame going east, so he could see the Notre Dame Basilica, next to the old Semenary, as well as Place d'Armes. We continued on Notre Dame for a while and then took St Paul - Montreal's oldest street, and covered in cobblestones like in the past, and went to Place Jacques Cartier, so he could see Montreal's City Hall. I forgot to take him behind the city hall, where you can see remains of the fortifications that were build around old Montreal in ancient days.

We had lunch at a place called 'Le Fripon" in Place Jacques Cartier. I had amazing mussels with fries, and Samer had sausages with fries. This restaurant had a mix of French, Italian, German and English cuisine, and a terasse directly on Place Jacques Cartier. The food was excellent as well as the service. It's a little more expensive then I normally like.. but decent for Old Montreal in a tourist area :)

After lunch we headed towards Marche Bonsecours, built around the 1850's and originally served as Montreal's city hall. Next to the market is the Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Secours, the oldest standing church in Montreal, built in 1655, now housing the Margerite Bourgeoys museum. Also aroudn the corner is a quaint hotel/restaurant housed in a 17th century building.

At this point we went on de la Commune, to the waterfront, and walked around the old port. First from the distance we could see Pont Jacques-Cartier, behind it La Ronde, and the remains of the Expo '67 of Man and it's world. You can see the clock tower on the waterfront, built to commemorate those who fought in WWI. We walked along the clock tower pier and then just along the waterfront. The other 2 piers were closed off to pedestrians. It's offseason. During the peak summer months the piers are all open. It's one of my favorite places to go in-line skating.

We walked along de la commune till we got back to McGill street and walked back to Square Victoria, where we sat for a while, watching people rushing home from work and a bunch of skateboarding kids. I figured we didn't want to take the commuter train before 7pm because I didn't want to stand on the train with my bitchy knee.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cooking up a storm

The past 2 days I've done nothing but cook. Though I hate cooking I get the urge to cook every once in a while.

Yesterday I started off by making some vegetable stock, to use as a soup base for the soups I wanted to make. Then I made some fruit & nut taboule and Arabian spinach with cheese. We had that for dinner last night. For the carnivores in my house I also made some chuck roast cooked with potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Apparently that turned out great, according to the same above mentioned carnivores. I always find it difficult to cook something and not taste it. I hadn't made chuck roast probably in close to 20 years.

Today, I made yellow split pea soup with zucchini, and tomato, onion & lentil soup, both which used the vegetable stock from yesterday. I also made ratatouille. Mostly a medley of eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes. Everything turned out really good. I'm starting to think though, that I need to get a freezer, because there's just not enough room.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paranoid Parents

It amazes me. Parents realizing their precious little snowflakes suffer from obesity now signing them up at Kiddie Gyms. I used to get comments when my daughters were younger for letting them play outside. Something much healthier then having them cooped in the house with a game playstation or computer all day.

The first house we bought had a nice fenced in yard with a 5ft gate on one side and 6 ft gate on the other side. I naively thought that it would keep my daughters, then aged 21 months and close to 3, in the yard. The first day I let them go in the back yard, I found them both on the front lawn not much later. So I watched. The baby managed to climb the 5ft gate to end up in the front yard, and the 3 year old, climbed the 6ft gate. I realized that the gate climbing in itself was dangerous. Their clothes could get stuck on the gate. I sat down my 2 toddlers and had a talk with them. I told them that I would leave the gates opened, but if I so much as caught any part of them off our property, in particular in the street they would never play outside again.

I didn't think it would work, but it worked well. They stayed off the street, and the area where they could play got to include the next door neighbor's property. They had 3 children around the same age as my 2 daughters and all 5 children could play in both yards. I'd watch them in my yard, the neighbor when they were in their yard.

I put them both in preschool starting at age 3. Basically it was 2 hours a day 4 days a week. The preschool was about a 15 minute walk away, and I'd walk them to the preschool regardless of the weather. My daughters got so used to walking even in the -20 weather, that we'd get home from the pre-school and they would want to stay outside and play, regardless how cold it got. I'd have to tell them no, when it was less then -15, because little ones don't move enough and don't realize when their hands/feet start to freeze, even if they were well dressed for the temperature.

Sadly we didn't stay in that house for more then 2-3 years, their dad and I split up, and I moved to a low-rent housing complex. I was warned by everyone I knew that it was the WORST place in all of our area of Montreal. That it had a high rate of crime. I was thinking, well duh, you put 3,000 people in a tiny area, and you will get more problems then if you spread them out.

I got an appartment in a building that was on the edge of the Bois de Liesse. I figured at least my kids would be able to play on the edge of the forest, and in the few park areas designed for the multitude of children living in the area. One of those parks had monkey bars that were 2 meters high. I remember driving home from work on day and seeing a very small child sitting on top of the monkey bars. My first reaction was "What kind of parent leaves a child that small climb up that high". Then it hit me. It was my baby, Isabelle, the one who is always climbing, that was sitting on top of the monkey bars. I decided NOT to stop the car. Because I thought if I yelled out her name, it might startle her and she might fall off. I reminded myself that I taught her how to climb, because she was a climber before she started to walk before age 1, and that despite her clumbsiness, she was also good at climbing.

As for the forest, I told the girls, they could play in the forest so long as they can still see the buildings of our complex. I figured it was healthier and safer to play in the woods, then in the street. The most dangerous animals in that stretch of woods in Montreal are red foxes and owls. And generally children make too much noise, tend to scare the away. My daughters actually have wonderful memories of living in the low-rent housing complex. In their words "There was parks, the woods and tons of children, always someone to play with".

Of course they weren't allowed outside after dark, and alternatively in the winter, not after 6pm [since it's dark at 4:30] and if it was dark they had to stay within earshot. I'm sure it was great for Izzy living there, as between the ages of 5-10 if I was looking for her, the most likely place to find her was up a tree. Izzy was a lot like having a son. She was fearless and it still amazes her dad and I to this day that she made it to 16 without breaking anything. Of course we're not sure she did break something at 16, but she had a cast on her thumb and wrist for 6 weeks, doctors never were able to say if it was a cracked bone, a broken bone, or just ligaments & muscles so strained and swelled that they couldn't tell if something was broken.

I mean sure I put Sam in little league baseball at 8 and Izzy in little league soccer [football for people outside north america] at 7, and they both took swimming lessons from the time they were babies. I figured most kids like playing in water, the earlier they learn how to swim and pool safety, the safer it is for them. Izzy also played basketball at school and in a league for a year. Both also played for their school volleyball team. And of course both got into Rugby at the end of high school and played in college as well as in a league. I've taught them to to ice skate as toddlers, and how to ride a bicycle. They also know how to in-line skate since it was something we could do together, as mom is less athletic then both daughters. I'm happy that they are athletic enough to handle team sports, unlike me who did best at individual sports.

But they got to play outside, get familiar with their environment use their creativity, and stay in shape. It drove me nuts that others labeled me as a bad parent, because I didn't control what they did 24/7 Kids need time to be just kids. To not have anyone telling them what to do, and to be able to just lie in the grass and watch the clouds in the sky.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I have developed bursitis in my right knee. A side-effect of gardening. Thankfully the people I've told haven't made stupid jokes about "ah spent a lot of time on your knees? " [with the implication of doing so to service a male]. Of course other professions include washing floors and being a nun.

I've seen 2 doctors so far and been put on Naproxen [similar to Aleve sold in the US], and I've had it aspirated and been given a cortisone shot. My knee is still swelled up like a golf ball. It's still painful when I move, and anytime I lift anything remotely heavy [meaning more then 5 lbs or 2 kilos] it swells up more.

It's ruined my vacation. I was planning on taking Samer around the maritimes. We'd drive up the North shore of the St Lawrence, via Trois Riviere, up to Quebec City and continue up to Riviere-du-loup before heading towards New Brunswick and the bay of Fundy, home of the world's highest tides. Then from there, taking hte confederation bridge, canada's longest bridge, to PEI, spending a day or 2 around PEI, since it's very scenic with it's red earth. Next we were going to take the Cariboo-Woods Island ferry from PEI to Pictou Nova Scotia.

Once in Nova Scotia I hadn't decided if I we were going to sight see along Cape Breton Island before going to Halifax, or after. It made sense if we were in Pictou to go around Cape Breton first and then go to Halifax. But I hadn't decided. I mean I just want to see the coastal area's which are generally scenic. Cape Breton is supposed to be mountanous and I know Samer likes the mountains.

But my knee cannot handle a minimum of 20 hours driving each way... and due to the incredible slowness of the SAAQ, Samer still doesn't have a Quebec drivers license, and he can no longer use his Dubai one. So he can't legally drive, and it's really not worth the risk of getting stopped. The penalty for driving without a license is I believe 2 years where you are prohibited from having a drivers license plus a $500 fine. Of course if you are prohibited from having a license, it makes it more expensive to insure you when you do get it back and get a car.

It upsets me. This is the third year I want to go to Halifax and it doesn't happen. I will look at several day trips assuming my knee does get better then it is now. I'm sitting icing the damn knee. It's like all those falls I took on this knee throughout my youth has finally come back and bitten me in the ass...

Oh well.. time to check out what alternatives there is for at least some visiting during vacation.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Love at first fight

Here is Celes, my daughters 6 month old female kitten and Jethro, my not quite 3 month old Maine Coon kitten.

They are having a friendly wrestling match on top of the new cat condo/tree that I got to keep them entertained.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Just one more little fellow joins our brood

Today we drove to Newbliss, Ontario. It's about 3 hours drive from Montreal taking Highway 401 up to Brockville, then road 29. It wasn't raining, but it was 'spitting' part of hte way, and very gray most of the day. We drove up there to pick up a polydactil Maine Coon kitten.

Yeah I said there was too many cats in the house, but I've wanted a Maine Coon for so long. We decided to call him Jethro. A name that suits him well. He's so incredibly adorable, and apparently his dad was a 20lb cat. So he's going to be a big cat :) That's him sitting on the dashboard of my car while we were parked in Brockville on the picture.

I realized since we had to get out at the Brockville exit that we couldn't be far from the St Lawrence, so after picking up the kitten, we stopped at the Harvey's in Brockville for a bite to eat, then I kept driving towards the St Lawrence. We went to the waterfront and then I decided to drive back on the road that followed the waterfront, from Brockville up till past Cornwall before we got back on the 401. I figured Samer would enjoy the scenic ride.