Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Talkin' shop

As a small way to occupy my time and make me feel less crappy about myself, I've been tutoring a couple in English for a month or two. We mostly work on conversational practice: fluency, comprehension, that sort of thing. We meet twice a week for an hour each time, and goddamn if I'm not running out of stuff to talk about.

Things we have discussed:

Israel & Palestine
Medicine (they're both doctors)
Media Coverage of Politics
Presidential Election
Funerals and Parties
Gift Giving
Special Holidays

Man, we've talked about a lot of stuff that starts with "P," haven't we?

I was hoping making this list would inspire me to new heights of creativity, but...not really. I guess I'll try to see what else I can come up with on my own. Any suggestions, internet?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winter, etc.

Winter appears to have begun in earnest here. We had snow flurries for two days in a row, I don't think the temperature has gotten above freezing, and walking the new dog makes me cry because the wind is blowing so hard.

Daisy came a little over a week ago, riding up from Virginia with Will and Nick, Ben's father and brother, respectively. She is sweet and a little shy, but appears to be settling in okay. Ada has relaxed enough to resume laying around.

Getting my hours cut back at work was a pretty big setback for me, but it's at least given me time to work on straightening out a few things in my life and getting the dog settled in. Right now she is having a dog dream.

I'm a sucker for a sweet face. Plus she loves to stretch SO MUCH. Also now this post has pictures of two different cute animals, so hopefully you aren't mad at me for not posting for forever-and-ever, right?

Daisy is kind of a lame name--nothing good ever happened to any Daisys that I could think of. Daisy Miller died of typhus or something (too lazy to look it up) and Daisy Bell's boyfriend tried to pass off buying one of those bikes that are double bikes as being a kind of romantic thing when he was too broke to buy a real car. Then the robot in 2001 killed them both, I dunno. But she lived with Ben's mom for a good 6 months before she came up here, so at this point it's her name and we'll just have to go with that.

And now it's like I've waited so darn long to post stuff that things that would have taken up tons of words in the past--losing the job, getting the dog, cat laying down--I can just breeze over like they're no big deal. Except for the cat thing: her tummy is very soft and when she invites you to pet her tum, it is not a terrible trap so that is something I could go on and on about.

Lately it seems that the only thing I cannot do is go to the gym. I don't know why doing this is so scary, as the Y is mostly filled with old ladies, but doing new things is hard. On the other hand, being sad about job has made me especially fat and not working has given me extra time on my hands so I REALLY SHOULD do this, especially because of the trouble I've been having with my ankle. That's another story I'll breeze over, I suppose, because at this rate I'm going to keep coming up with things that I feel obligated to mention and then where will we be? Bored.

I will tell you about Daisy's origin story, then. B and I have been wanting another dog for quite a while now, but things just hadn't come together. We tried to adopt one and it wanted to bite me, and then we tried to adopt another and it wanted to bite Ada. So we took a break from Trying to Find a Dog and I let Susanne, Ben's mom, know to keep an eye out for us since she has dog radar. Radog.

On a whim, Susanne answered a Craigslist ad for a golden retriever-looking mix. She figured she'd go and look and report back,  but when she got there to meet with the owner, the dog was just dripping with ticks. The owner claimed that Daisy had been inside previously but then got moved outside because they had too many dogs. Outside in Virginia summers means ticks, like a bazillion of them. So because she is a good person with a heart of gold (hi Susanne! See how I'm not calling you that "m" word?) she just took the damn neglected dog, whether or not we wanted it. Which was of course the right thing to do times a million, and if you thought I'd disapprove of that, do you even know me? Why are you reading this thing?

Susanne ended up at the Petsmart vet on a Sunday night, waiting for a crap Banfield vet to prescribe some kind of anti-tick meds; she looked down and the poor dog was swarming with literally hundreds of ticks. Poor Daisy was anaemic because the ticks sucked out all her blood, and had three tick-borne diseases including Lyme Disease and even after the ticks died she was all scabby and dry and gross. But Susanne fed her a million fish oil caplets and took her to obedience class so things got better for Daisy. Moral of the story: Ben's mother is the patron saint of all dogs. And now Daisy basically just lives here and chows down on bones and expensive food all day, so I have a good feeling about this setup.

So, this first blog entry after a long absence is maybe kind of a let-down, I dunno. But you were probably coming here for pictures of cute pets so I'll try to keep 'em coming and maybe have even more next time! FIN

Thursday, June 28, 2012

CSA veg

We got our first bag from our CSA today, and it's full of goodness:

Red lettuce
Green lettuce
garlic scapes (fleur d'ail)
Chinese cabbage
a turnip
yellow squash
green squash
red basil

Any suggestions as to what to do with the more exotic ingredients here?

Also: "scape" is not an appetizing word. I've had garlic scapes in stir-fry before, but I haven't seen them elsewhere. They're curly!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gibeau Orange Julep Trip

When I was visiting the States last, I managed to lose my wallet, and along with it, my Quebec driver's license and healthcare card. There's no way to get either of them replaced online, so Ben and I set off Saturday to one of the SAAQ offices.

The liquor store is SAQ and the driver's registry is SAAQ, in case you were keeping track. 

I picked the SAAQ near a strange roadside attraction on Autoroute Decarie called Gibeau Orange Julep, in the hopes of making the experience more of an adventure and less of a lame chore for Ben and myself.

"What's an Orange Julep?" he asked.

"I don't know," I replied, "but my student says it's a thing we're supposed to do in Montreal."

He looked it up on Google.

"This seems promising," he said. "The Google keywords are 'hot dogs,' 'classic cars,' 'poutine,' 'hot rods,' and 'places to eat.' Let's go!"

So we did. The first stop was Metro Namur (not to be confused with Namor, who is the Sub-Mariner).

You'll notice a few things going on in this picture. First off, each of Montreal's metro stations has its own distinct architectural style, although they've all got an angular 60's thing going on. This station was evidently built in 1984, but they all have a similar vibe. Check out the cool lights, and more notably, the spikes on the escalators. Wikipedia says these sorts of things are anti-slide devices, commonly called "hockey pucks" because of their shape and size, and "their purpose is to prevent objects (and people) from precipitously sliding down the otherwise smooth metallic surface." While these don't look like hockey pucks, I'm sure these escalator spikes serve their purpose admirably. I have not spotted them at other stations, but I will now be keeping a lookout.

This is the Gibeau Orange from a couple of blocks away. It's a restaurant that is also a giant red orange. I do not know why it is this color, but that is not the color of a citrus fruit. Also there is some guy photobombing my picture here.

It featured a thematically appropriate sign with neon and everything.

Sometimes when you order clothes online, they caution you that the colors might not match up exactly, but if you're seeing this as an unnatural shade of red-orange, then you're in the right ballpark. What this picture doesn't impart is the presence of the speakers on lampposts blasting such hits as "The Reflex" and "Sister Christian" out into the parking lot. Which was awesome, of course.

Look close and you'll see a pretzel for sale!

The orange julep itself was dispensed from these cylinders. The insulated pipes coming out of it went into the ceiling. Ben and I both agreed that the giant orange was probably filled with the orange julep.

We got hot dogs and the usual sweet-ish, smooshy Quebec-style fries that I'm starting to enjoy a lot more these days. Ben and I both agree that if someone asks you if you want something "all-dressed," you should always say yes at least the first time. All-dressed hot dog in this case was relish, onions, and yellow mustard. I added ketchup. The buns on the smaller dogs were those fun split-top bread kinds that'd been grilled on a flat-top, while the Nathan's hot dog I got was on a normal but nicely toasted bun. I had the better quality hot dog, Ben had the better bun.

The drink itself is hard to describe, and evidently some sort of secret. My student told me it had "eggs or something." It tastes kind of like a dreamsicle.

The cup claims it's "MADE WITH SUNKIST ORANGES DAILY" and it has an excellent slogan.

So that was our adventure for the weekend. Later we went to a pool party and I wore an enormous sun hat, but there are no pictures of that. You can read more about the Gibeau Orange Julep here or here. Here's a scary recipe.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Where's the blog at?

Where have you been, you say? In Quebec, of course!

We're now headed into our second summer here in Montreal, and Ben and I will be finishing up our second French class this coming Monday. I see now why they call it "language interference," because half the time when I try to come up with a French word, I end up thinking something in German.So I am going to try to watch some more French-language TV, starting with this gem about le canard.

I like it here, I really do. I've settled into my job and they don't seem to want to get rid of me any time soon, so that is good, because I like it. I do one-on-one tutoring as well as class-specific labs and general workshops. Las semester I did a pronunciation workshop, which really allowed me to work with some of the knowledge I learned in my linguistics classes. It feels good to utilize the skills and knowledge that you have. I still don't understand how I managed to land on my feet after so many years of screwin' it up, but it appears to have been equal parts good luck and hard work.

 Ben's game was released earlier this year, and the portion that he worked on is really fun. I bought an extra Xbox so we could play the multiplayer bit together, and it's an enjoyable way for us to spend time. He's transitioned from a programmer into a design role, which is a cool career progression for him since he's more interested in design now.

Now I am off to watch my French show. Au revoir!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lump to Professional in 60 Seconds

I'm now in my third week at my new job, and I am hopefully adjusting relatively well.

I've found myself spending what to me feels like a LOT of money getting ready to really settle in at this job--I'm trying to treat it like a career where I will be here for the indefinite future, which means one thing: clothes.

Before my first day, I went through my work clothes, such as they are, and threw out everything that was just too old, dingy, or stained to wear to a new job. This left me with exactly one pair of pants, maybe 4 skirts, 4 tops (not the band, sadly), and a dress or two. This may sound like a decent amount of clothing if you are a dude, but not everything GOES with everything else, and I also have a sad lack of decent shoes to go with everything. Lots of my pre-existing shoes have proven to be life-ruining blister-causers and shopping for shoes is an enormous pain...

The strangest part about this is that I usually try to tell Ben what I am spending money on, and so I have found myself explaining a lot of generally unexplained, unspoken, gender-coded rules for professional women. Ben doesn't expect me to update him every second I spend money, but we both have the habit of just letting the other party know if we spent or are planning to spend, say, over $100 on something--it's just to make sure we both have a handle on how much money's in the system.

Here is what I have figured out:

1. Professional women wear separates. This one's less of an unspoken rule because I specifically remember my mother telling me this years ago. If you're wearing a dress, then you need to be wearing a cardigan or a blazer or something.

2. Professional women wear outfits. This means that you've got shoes and jewelry that coordinate with what you're wearing.

3. You can't wear the same thing every day.

4. What this means is that you have to set yourself up so you have a working rotation of clothes (up to 3 pieces if you're wearing a jacket, shirt, and pants or skirt), shoes, and jewelry that all go with each other. Plus stuff like tights and stockings and whatnot.

So right now I am working on putting together a collection of crap I can wear to work so that I send the right kind of messages about myself to my students and coworkers. It ain't cheap, especially because I generally mail-order a lot of my clothes because I am both a chunk and particular about what I wear.

Anyway, I have been shopping a lot more than I am accustomed to, a fair portion of which consists of me putting things into online shopping carts and then never buying them because I really hate getting stuff when it's not on sale. The silly part is that we have the money for me to do this--with our salaries together we're certainly comfortable enough for me to spend some money to make sure I am presentable at work.

I wish I didn't feel quite so neurotic about this whole being able to pass as a Professional thing, because then I probably wouldn't feel the urge to write about it in my blog. But job stuff is what I've been doing recently, so there you go.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mom vs. Blog

So this blog sort of has two things going on--two things that war. They can kind of be summarized as Mom vs. Blog.

So one of the main reasons I started this up was to share pictures and stories of what I am up to with parents and other people who are concerned with how we are doing here in Montreal. To that end I feel like I want to tell stories of things that I did and then add context within Montreal and all that sort of thing. That part is "Mom."

The part that is "blog" is the bit where I want to treat this as a blog and write about the things that I want to write about because it is my blog. Initially this was going to be a B & me kind of undertaking, but I've got more time to write these days and stuff is really starting to ramp up on the Mass Effect 3 release. I think Twitter has ended up being more of his speed, anyway. The "Me" aspect of the blog is the part where what I really want to do is to write about me, me, me.

So anyway, I think I am going to work on a bit more of a balance between the two M's. More complaining, less tour guide, but overall more writing so hopefully more of both.

So one unifying theme I've found since we moved here (other than things dying) is not one that I expected: blisters. Since we arrived I have been getting horrendous blisters. Heel blisters, top-of-toe blisters, bottom-of-toe blisters, bottom-of-heel blisters, ball-of-foot blisters. Now, I am doing a lot more walking here in Montreal than I used to, but I've found that I have been getting blisters over periods of time and activities comparable to things I did in DC.

For example: today I put on some low-heeled cute dress shoes I got a few years ago and went to a mostly-a-formality interview with HR at Dawson College. I walked a block to the bus, walked a block around the corner, into a building, up some stairs, and arrived. Feet began to hurt. I was like, "Craaap...I have worn these shoes before but now they are giving me a zillion blisters." After the interview I needed to go and talk to the dude who will be my boss and I probably said something awkward because my feet hurt, I don't even know, and I started to SWEAT like nobody's business.

Luckily, across the street is a mall where I hobbled to attempt to find some sandals; the shoe store I went to had apparently gotten rid of all of its sandals for fall and I wasn't going to cram my poor throbbing feets into a boot, so I got some of those foamy flip-flops and just wore them with my suit. I was all sweaty and probably looked like a hot mess at this point, but I couldn't go home because I needed to do some banking stuff with B.

The stupidest part of this is that this isn't the first time I have done this frantic hobbly quest for shoes at this same mall. A few weeks ago I went to meet B for dinner near there and threw on some old comfy ballet flats I hadn't worn since last summer, and promptly had all of the skin abraded off of four of my toes. I hobbled into a Zeller's (it's like a crappy Target) and picked up some black flip-flops which did not match my outfit but also did not cause me to experience excruciating pain.

So I don't know why the hell I keep getting blisters but I wish it would stop. I am not at a weight that exceeds where I was the last time I was wearing those shoes, so it's not like I'm too fat for my old shoes, and the shoes are not particularly worn out, either.

What it means is that wearing close-toed shoes is going to be painful for the next couple of days, right when my parents are coming to visit and I have just started to make progress on an exercise regimen.

All in all, this has been a year of crap-ass stuff and stressful stuff that I have had no control over happening: moved to a new country, dog died, dad died, and ONE ZILLION BLISTERS. There's probably something else in there but I don't feel like thinking of it because there's no call to angry up my blood if I don't have to.

For what it's worth, though, I am sailing through with flying colors. But my feet hurt.