Monday, August 31, 2009

This n that

We showed the apartment to half a dozen people yesterday. There was one person who wanted to sign a lease and pay a deposit on the spot. Not so fast, said we. The brother in law of the newly arrived student from abroad offered to co-sign the lease. Whoa, just hang on. See, we've been burned by the "I'll sign and pay right now" people and also burned by the father who cosigned for his son. That still burns me up. But chasing after $500 involved spending time and energy with no guarantee of payoff, so we let it drop. (I don't care what's right or wrong, I just analyze the cost vs benefit and go that way. Hmm, maybe I'm more capitalist than I thought.) Anyway, I told them that I would love to trust them and take their words at face value, but the world has taught me that that is folly. They understood. We may end up renting to them anyway, we shall see after we check their story.

Spouse and I are trying to learn Spanish. We got this box from Costco called Immersion Spanish. It's pretty cool with interactive lessons and games on the computer. We especially like the record and listen feature so you can see how well you remember/pronounce the words. I took a couple videos of us yesterday during cocktail hour which is when we sit down to practice. The better of the two is unfortunately blurry. I guess it focused when I stood in front of the camera to push the button, so when I went to sit down we are out of focus. Still it's kinda cute:

If you want to see the long version, in focus, but boring, you can just click here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More cheer, less gloom

Ooh last night's dinner was good. Filet and artichokes with leftover chili relleno casserole. I suspect there will be excremental difficulties today, but it was worth it. That casserole is over half cheese and that tends to bind things up.

I was celebrating a bit with the filet mignon there. See at the beginning of the week I was getting panicky about not having enough work, depressed about pulling money out of savings and generally feeling all around cranky. By the end of the week I had scheduled more hours than I need between now and xmas. This session, it looks like I'm basically changing employers. I've been hired by two colleges to teach intensive courses. There will be some weeks that I'm in the classroom 36 hours but others with only 10 hours. And I'm teaching two night classes. This will put a chink in my routine since I'll finish up when I normally go to bed. I figure it'll be good for me getting out of my comfort zone. Anyway it's only 8 weeks. I will actually be making more money (about 5% more per hour) but receiving less since I'm now an employee and I have to participate in the teacher's pension fund. At least I won't have to pay taxes at the end of the year since they'll already have been paid.

Around home, we've noticed this summer that the vibrations from the big vehicles that pass in front of our house have been more vigorous than past years. It's like having a hundred small earthquakes a day. Irritating. Then last week I noticed that the puddle in front of our place never dries up. I went to check and sure enough there is water coming out of the sidewalk from what looks like a metal cap to some kind of pipe embedded there. Then I saw that a portion of our front yard and neighbor's is swampy. I don't know how long the leak has been going on but I suspect weeks or even months. It's hard to notice a permanent puddle when it rains every day like it has this year. So I called the city to tell them that there was water coming out of the sidewalk. Within 15 minutes a water emergency vehicle pulled up. The guy inside didn't get out of the truck and spent about a minute before taking off. Apparently not an emergency. That was last Sunday. On Wednesday, another city worker came, tried to turn off the leak but couldn't and then drew a big square in blue marker all around the spot. Then he left and it continues to leak. I think this is why the vibrations are so bad, the soil all around is saturated and conducive to passing on vibrations. I just hope all this vibrating doesn't harm our delicate foundation.

We're still looking for a tenant for downstairs. We hadn't been getting very many calls and I checked my ads and realized I had posted the ad in the San Francisco classified section instead of Montreal. Doh! That would explain it.

Rainy weekend here. Lots of puttering to do. Have a good one peeps!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Garden snippets

* My student was recovering from gum surgery yesterday and canceled class so I headed over to the botanical gardens for a stroll. Look, a purple pea pod.

* This reminds me that summer is quickly coming to an end up here. We're not even supposed to get out of the 60s today and tomorrow.

* These are always "mexican skirt flowers" in my mind. Yes, I know it's hibiscus but that sounds like some sort of fungal infection. I like my nomenclature better.

* I wanted to but didn't. If I'd been in the wild there would have been no question. I'm not sure what the policy is at the gardens about grazing. I'm assuming they frown on it.

* The koi in the Japanese garden are so big. And they beg for food like dogs. Someone had some bread and they slithered and writhed all over each other to get a handout.

* I don't understand how they can survive the winter here. After researching a bit, they can survive an iced over pond as long as there is some liquid water. I figure the gardens must keep the pond warm enough for the koi to survive.

* I'm so mesmerized by the lotus flower. From the rot comes exquisite beauty.

* This was cool. I haven't walked through the greenhouse for quite a while. There was this new tree in there with a wrought iron fence around it. Wow, must be something special I thought. Turns out it is the rarest tree in the world with only 100 growing in the wild. It was discovered in 1994 and is so different from anything we know, they had to add a new genus to the plant world.

* When I got back, I played some scramble (boggle) on Facebook. I loved this guy's made up name.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Skippable post #784

Last night's din din. I'm surprised I didn't notice the toenail clippers sitting there. Eww.

Well I'm just about finished up with my level zero guy except he added another 30 hours to the contract. That's good news since I have no other work at the moment. It's starting to look really sketchy with the contracts too this session. I've got an interview today at another college but the job is also contractual and because of the nature of the hours would preclude me from taking other contracts except the more flexible low (like half) paying ones. A dilemma. I hate to close the door on some of my long time contracters but somehow I'm going to have to put food on the table. Although I'm wont to panic when I'm insecure about income, I'm trying the little mantra "everything will work out". Because from all experience, it usually does.

Anyway, my student is starting to say some things spontaneously with the verb "be". Finally. Although it was kind of disheartening yesterday when he asked me what "and" was again. The good news for him is that he is getting approved for a thousand hour immersion program somewhere else. His more realistic goal of being able to join that progam without being totally lost is what I'm working on for the next two weeks.

Wow, this is really exciting stuff huh? There's also the exciting business of health ailments. Not mine, but spouse's. He's got a terrible ear infection and the antibiotics he was prescribed last Friday haven't helped. He didn't like that doctor though so he tried to find another. Unfortunately, there aren't enough family doctors for everyone to have one (yet) so if you're young and healthy like we are, you have to use the walk-in system. This can mean long waiting times, but not always. Last time I went, I got in in 20 minutes. It's because the doctors are paid less here and the US bleeds a lot of the doctors away. I don't know if that means the US has the best and brightest doctors though, it sounds more like they've got the greedy ones. What do I know though, I'm just a language teacher.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend update

We had quite the seafood feast last night. Mmmmmm, tuna tartare which you see above plus mussels marinieres and lobster bisque. We also bought some halibut while we were at the fish market but that's on the menu for tonight along with the lobster bisque we couldn't finish because it was so rich and it was the third course. I was pretty happy with our first stab at the tartare. Perhaps a bit too much sesame taste from the sesame oil, but dang it was good. That sushi grade tuna is 26 bucks a pound so this will be a rare treat.

Sergy was funny the other day. I woke up in the morning to find a little missive in my email inbox from him. Apparently he was catching up on the blog (he rarely checks it) and while reading the comments on a post that he was in (he doesn't read any comments unless he was talked about in the post) he saw something that led him to google "actinic keratosis" because someone mentioned the freckle on his nose as being that. So he goes and looks for that and comes up with this horrifying photo:

He didn't feel too comforted by such a diagnosis but I told him that the photo above is probably a worst case scenario. Everyone gets age/sun spots as they age. And most of the time they do not protrude from the body like that.

Today we have to stick around the house because we're showing the studio for rent downstairs. The tenant is leaving mid September which is a perfect time for students coming to study in Montreal. I hope we get a taker quickly like we usually do. I don't need extra things to make me panicky about money.

Yesterday at the market we were picking up a couple of things (rice vinegar, sesame oil etcetera) for making dinner and the seasonal section of the store had been redone. Serge and I both laughed as we saw that they had made a clothing section in the store. Granted it's a really big market and we've bought non-market things there before (like a chair) but it just seemed so odd and incongruous. Then we started joking about people who buy clothes there, wow I really like that shirt where'd you get it? Loblaws. Then we giggled helplessly. But then just as we were finishing up and heading to the cashiers, there was a rack of closeout summer clothing and Serge picked up a pair of shorts for 9 bucks. It's a market so you can't really try anything on but I'm hoping they'll fit. I can't wait to tease him though about his Loblaws shorts when he wears them.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy happy to us

I got such a kick out of my student yesterday. We are working on the present continuous right now (am/is/are + verbing) and we were doing this exercise where he had to choose a verb from a small list to fit into a series of sentences with blanks in them. So the sentence he had was "Excuse me, you ___________ on my foot." Guess which verb he decided to put into the blank. I about died laughing as he read it out with the present continuous of the verb come. He was supposed to choose the verb "stand" of course. Good times.

It's sad that I'm almost finished with him. However, he is really trying to get the government to pony up more money for more hours, so maybe I'll be with him longer than anticipated. This is probably a good thing as I just found out that one of our major clients didn't renew the contracts for this session. Although yesterday I got a good lead on working at another college so everything will probably work out. It usually does so I just have to remember that instead of choosing to feel panicky. Because most of our feelings are based on our choice. Like good old Abe said, most people are as happy as they decide to be.

What else? Oh yeah, it's our anniversary (of meeting, not marrying) today and I even remembered. 16 years ago Serge and I met at a Hong Kong nightclub. If it's not raining later, I'm gonna take him over to the botanical garden for their little jazz happy hour they do and then barbeque up some filet mignon for dinner. This will bust my diet but oh well. Oh yeah, I haven't mentioned the diet. I have never dieted to lose weight since I've always been skinny. When I quit smoking I promised myself that I wouldn't worry about anything else, such as weight gain, for at least a year after quitting. Well that one year was up in July. It's been one week now on the diet and I'm down 4 pounds. I don't know if that's good or not. My plan is pretty basic. Eat less. I have just been making sure I don't go over 3000 calories in one day. I was able to do that every day except one, last Sunday, when we went out to breakfast and later in the evening I caved and had a bowl of ice cream with hot fudge and cherries. The thing that has most horrified me is seeing how many calories (and salt) there is in a slice of bread. I had no idea.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


We've had such a heat wave this week. The heavy hot muggy kind. I am in love with our air conditioning. I am grateful that the workplace also has air conditioning. The only drag is on public transportation where the collective sweat of millions of humans seems to coat every surface and poison the air with its stench. Luckily the workplace is only a 20 minute ride. And speaking of work, yesterday a nice Australian lady approached me and said, "I know you! ..... But you don't know who I am." I stood looking at her thinking, "I don't know this person." Then she said she read my blog. She was in the building taking advantage of the free language courses that are paid for by the government for immigrants. This is the first time an anonymous reader has recognized me out there. I thought it was pretty cool, but it also reminded me to be careful what I relate vis-a-vis my students and my workplaces. I wouldn't want to have any awkward situations arise.

Woke up late, nothing else to relate, you're already done with this and isn't that great?

Monday, August 17, 2009

This and that

I think we're officially an old married couple. It was gay pride yesterday (even though they kind of have two pride events spaced two weeks apart) and instead of going down to view the parade, we stayed home in air conditioned comfort. I checked in on the live feed a few times only to see the same tired dance floats and drag queens and more importantly, the sweating hordes of spectators. Hot plus crowded plus pricey drinks equals stay home. Another pleasure in life, like Christmas, has been dulled through the tried and true method of repetition. It's like every joy experienced is on a kind of pendulum with each subsequent swing's force slightly diminished, until finally, the pendulum swings no more. This reminds me that we didn't even dance once on the last cruise we went on. Old.

I have been getting in inordinate amount of pleasure from the pink gladiolas I bought. I feel like they are shouting, "Hey, over here, check out our pink festoonage," every time I come into that room. Plus they were only 7 bucks for 10 stems. Such a deal.

Did y'all see Em's comment yesterday? She doesn't understand why people are letting themselves believe the blatant lies that are being told, why people are not outraged that the public option is being taken off the table. She gave phone numbers and stuff too, so if you believe in actually changing the system, have a look and contact your congressman/woman.

Serge and I went out for breakfast yesterday to our fave little bistro to have the bagel au trou, which is a bagel with an egg fried in each hole of each half of the bagel and then topped with spinach cream cheese. It wasn't as delicious as the very first time I've had it, but the pleasure deterioration has been quite minimal. Damn good. It is such a laid back place too. I couldn't believe the waiter was wearing flip-flops. Flip flops! Maybe at a beach bar, but not in a restaurant with glassware and other sundry hot and sharp objects. The folly. Or maybe I'm just old and crotchety.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I'm probably preaching to the choir

You'd think there was an election coming up what with all the political ads on the US channels. I'm pretty disconnected emotionally from the health care debate going on since it makes no impact on our lives. But it's impossible to ignore since everyone (the world over it seems) is going on and on about it. I can tell you that from the Canadian perspective, we're all scratching our heads going, "Are they really this dumb?" The last time we asked ourselves that was when Bush got elected the second time. Just a few of my observations.

1. Clearly there are some huge profits that are trying to be protected. Those who stand to gain from the status quo are being allowed to shape the debate. This is brokenness in action.

2. Note to protesters. If you want to be taken seriously, spell the words on your signs correctly. I know it's time consuming to make the signs so I suggest taking the extra step of spell checking it first. Otherwise, why not just wear a sticker on your forehead that says IDIOT.

3. I don't think there is any real news anymore. Even on the evening national news programs the anchors are "tut-tutting" and rolling their eyes at the stories they are delivering. This is not news, this is something more akin to propaganda.

4. That one sixth of your countrymen are unable to procure or afford health insurance is abominable. (And I'm surprised I haven't seen that last word paired with the president's name yet.)

5. Medicare is socialized medicine. It's already a part of the system. Try to pull your head out.

6. Finally, that once again, Americans don't believe that they can learn anything from other countries' systems. The hubris is staggering.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me. I mean if I were fat and happy with my insurance, I'd resist change too. But that's the "me first" attitude that so typifies America. I just can't believe that this whole idea that "the poor don't deserve health care" is something people really feel. There's no other word for that except wrong.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

12 of 12

For this month's 12 of 12, we see the 24hr period from 5pm on the 11th to 5pm on the 12th. Mother in law came over to take us out for a belated birthday dinner. We had a martini together before we headed out. I thought this picture came out great of spouse and his mother.

We went to Kobe, one of those places where they make a show out of cooking the meal at your table. Here was the big ooh fire moment.

The next morning I got up to have this weather report staring me in the face. You don't understand. That screen has been peppered with rain clouds the entire summer. Finally, it looks like we're in for a stretch of hot dry weather.

I haven't mentioned my new cup. I don't know why I didn't do this sooner. It took me a while to find one that would fit in my bag properly and sealed up real well but I found this one at Starbucks that works great. It was twelve bucks but I've already saved $40 from not buying my morning coffee in the city.

There's my bus waiting for me. I love that we live at the start of this bus route. That means I've always got the prime choice of seats. Within 5 or six stops it is standing room only in the morning.

Then I go spend four hours here. My student informed me yesterday that he was taking today and Friday off for vacation. Smart guy, he must have seen that weather report too.

My class is very near the Jean Talon market, a huge open air place where local farmers peddle their wares. Avocados don't grow here though, so they are usually imported from Mexico. Look! three for two bucks. Such a deal. I grabbed a few.

It pays to shop the place first before buying. Look these are $2.25 apiece for avocados. Glad I didn't see and buy these first. I noticed that tomatoes and corn are dirt cheap right now. The corn is a quarter an ear.

Then home crossing the train track bridge.

At the same spot on the other side of the street is an advertising billboard. I liked the clever advertising. I'd translate, but that's no fun for those who want to practice.

Then I got home and Serge reacted to the fact that I put that video up yesterday. This is his mad face. He insisted that I take it down and I said okay. But then I didn't do it. I'm hoping he'll forget to insist again.

Out of the work clothes and time for a quick game of scrabble. (Note to self: time to trim the underarm bush.) Also, an update from yesterday, we received a text message from missing bounced check tenant. Apparently she is in Mexico, is sorry, and will take care of everything upon her return. Which of course she didn't specify when. And no, we don't have the right to go into her apartment.

If you'd like to see other people's 12 of 12s, head on over to Chad's site here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This and that plus bonus video

No pup yet. The SPCA sent me a nice letter though telling me not to worry, that they don't euthanize any dogs unless there are extreme circumstances. I had mentioned that we were planning on adopting in October and they said that Genie may or may not have been adopted by then but not to worry, there are always new strays coming in. Anyway, Serge and I both have to agree on the new member of the family and I think he wants to get something a little smaller. (Actually he doesn't really even want another dog, but he's bending to my will)

I was at the market the other day and they had these big baskets of peaches for three bucks. Beautiful fuzzy ripe peaches. So I grabbed a basket and said to myself that I would make peach cobbler. I looked on the internet for an easy recipe (meaning I already had all the required ingredients) and found this one. I had to learn how to peel a peach (you blanche them first) which was the most time consuming part. God it came out good. Then, even though I have been on a strict no ice cream diet, I had to get some because you can't eat peach cobbler without it. Then because the half gallon size was the same price as the pint size (a weird sale) I got the big tub. Now the cobbler's nearly gone and I've got all this ice cream left. I'd make another cobbler, but I can't be trusted around it as I inevitably eat a 1500 calorie serving once I start.

Our upstairs tenant is missing in action. I still hear her cat playing once in a while but she's been gone since at least Friday when we called about her bounced rent check. Haven't seen nor heard from her. I keep thinking the worst (she's another deadbeat like nude dancer) but Serge keeps making excuses for her like she's probably vacationing in Cuba or camping in the mountains or something. That made me laugh, there's no way that girl is a camping girl. I find two things strange here. One, that you wouldn't check your messages for 5 days. Two, and if you did check your messages in the last five days, why no call back to respond to the bounced rent check situation? The only adjectives I can come up with here are negative. Flakey, irresponsible, clueless. Still, I hope Serge is right and she's just been off the grid for a week. (But what about the cat all alone up there?)

Finally today, and you better get on this now because spouse is going to be none too happy about it, here he is "dancing" to a song he LOVES, although I didn't know to what extent until I caught him turning it up and writhing to it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

How an errand turns into a long day (and post)

We went over to the other building Saturday to check the bathroom work we had done. The renter's brother in law did it and we wanted to make sure it was well done before paying. All we really had done was redo the shower enclosure, put in a new toilet and faucets and then repaint. It still cost $1200. Ugh. The guy in that apartment only pays a third of that since he's been there forever and the law permits us to raise the rent exactly 4 dollars for this upgrade. We recoup the $ in 25 years with no interest. Yay Quebec. We keep hoping he wins big at the casino (he's a gambler) so he'll move.

Anyway, there were some materials left over so we decided to take them back to Home Depot. Since we were going to Home Depot, Serge wanted to show me the lamp shop he had discovered while I was in California. It's in an industrial park East of here. There were a couple of lamps (we've been shopping for a lamp for a whole year now to put above the dining table we bought last year. Until now, there have just been wires dangling out of the ceiling) that we liked but of course they were out of our price range.

We left the store and headed up to Home Depot but since it was nearing lunch time, I suggested stopping at the nearby Costco for a poutine. Now who could resist such a fine idea? Not us. So then we were scarfing down our hotdogs and poutine and Serge says that since we're here we have to walk through the store. I said okay but no cart. That way we'll have to really want to buy it to carry it around the store. Serge insists on walking every aisle and I don't mind, it's fun hanging out with the spouse sometimes. We had a lively debate over the words need and want and I guess I held forth since we actually left the store without spending anything, er, except for lunch. Please admire, won't you, our restraint and skillful delayed gratification technique.

So we finally made it into Home Depot and returned the things and of course Serge said we had to walk the store. I protested reminding him that just last week we did the Home Depot walkthrough when we bought the stuff for the bathroom remodel. He held forth this time and we spent a long time in the lighting aisle and I found a stained glass lamp that I liked because the colors matched our living room. Surprisingly Serge said okay. After a whole year of checking lighting it was a very pleasant reply. Serge then said we had to buy a dimmer, but instead he grabbed a package of two dimmers. "In case I scrap the first one," he tells me and I remember that it's true, he tends to explode dimmers and thermostats trying to get the wiring right. (When we got home, he discovered that he already had a brand new double package of dimmers unopened. It was impossible for me not to berate him, but he told me to shut up since it was on his credit card. I couldn't argue with that.)

Then there was terrible traffic, it seemed like everyone in the city was out and about. I suggested checking out the pound and surprisingly Serge said okay and we headed across town. It was really sad in there but there was one dog that I liked and when I knelt down, she stuck out her paw and touched my arm. Here she is. Serge was very stern though and said we still had to wait. If I find out she's going to be euthanized, I'm getting her though. She's been there for two months already (it's the spca) so I can't imagine they'll wait much longer.

Finally, we got home from our ten minute errand, five hours later. Then the lighting installation took forever and was a pain in the butt. And for once, he didn't scrap a dimmer. He did nearly kill himself, but he would solidly deny that. (I heard a terrible cry from the other room that made me jump up, my heart in my throat, and run in to see what happened. I'm pretty sure he got a terrible shock but he acted (nervously, evasively) like nothing happened.) He futzed with the mounting and the electricity for five hours before he gave up on getting the wiring right. Then on Sunday morning his dad called and gave him the answer to the electrical mystery. Even he had to sleep on it before it came to him. Behold the new dining room light.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday Snippets

* Checky poo went bouncy loo with the new upstairs tenant. She used to be (still is?) a stripper. The one with the exotic Cleopatra cat. We sure can pick 'em!

* The garden was beautiful the other day. I kept thinking as I strolled through, "La saison s'achève." This doesn't have an easy translation in English. Something like the season has passed the pinnacle, or the season is over. Much better in French. Pics today courtesy of the beauty from Thursday.

* Feeling so old lately. It's like the genetic switch has been turned on for aging. When you're young, everything regenerates itself so easily, you feel invincible and you bounce back so quickly from things (notably alcohol abuse). Every day now there's a new spot on my face or a new pain somewhere. That fall I took back in April when I was horsing around with my cousin is still plaguing me. Four stinking months later.

* There's something changed mentally too. I can feel myself getting set in my ways and getting cantankerous when I can't have them. I find myself looking scornfully at ragamuffins and the "squeegee beggars". Get a job I've muttered more than once. And sadly, I don't think about what I want to do with my life anymore, I think about how fabulous it will be when I finally get to retire. (19 years if all goes according to plan.)

* I have a feeling a new pup will give me a new spring to my step, but I've got to honor my agreement with Serge. Can't do it until October.

* My nose has become super odor detector. I can smell an unwashed human from 10 yards now. As soon as your sweat starts to ferment - a smell I used to think of as "man" - I will notice it and if I love you, I'll tell you that you're starting to stink. Every morning, there's at least one unwashed guy on the bus who sweat in the bed and didn't shower in the morning. I don't love him so I don't say anything.

* Uh-oh, I've found another series to watch. Weeds. The first disc of any series is only 99 cents at the video store to get you hooked. Well it worked. There's several seasons over there, so I'll be watching that for the next few weeks. (And Californication? Awesome. It's a drag there's only one season available right now up here. I hurt myself several times with the guffawing.)

*To give you an idea of the challenge I presently have at work. (The following exchange in French because I was trying to get him to understand the parts of speech.)

Me: C'est quoi le verbe dans la phrase suivante: Je vais au magasin.
Him: Être?
Me: Non, ecoute une fois de plus: Je VAIS au magasin.
Him: Vais, vais.......Je ne sais pas.
Me: (With a huge grin) C'est le verbe "aller".

Okay so those of you who have no idea what that is, I asked him what the verb was in the sentence "I go to the store." His response was the verb "to be". Then later on (he really is improving despite my whinage around here) he was translating a phrase in his head and thought "ses choses" meaning "his things" but since ses is a homonym of both "c'est" and "ces", he looked up "ces" in his notes and proudly responded: These things! It was so cute but geez if you are lame in your mother tongue, it's a very uphill climb to learn a second language. I know I had to relearn English somewhat when I learned French.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Testing patience

Today marks the midpoint of the contract I have with my level 0 student. In forty five hours he has learned to conjugate BE in the present tense, both affirmative and negative forms plus the interrogative form. It took a good 20 hours for him to catch the hang of I/you/he/she/it/we/they and longer for me/you/him/her/it/us/them but the possessives my/your/his/her/our/thier/its are proving to be quite a challenge. I know how it is to be in your mid thirties and start to learn a new language because I went through it myself. I keep reflecting on those months of agony but I can't help feel that I was a faster learner than he. However, I do recall that after three months, which would have been about 150 hours, I was thinking that it was impossible, that I'd never be able to learn French. Discouraged, I almost aborted the effort. Luckily I didn't quit and was able to push through it. Now the powers that be are trying to extend the contract to give him a better chance of having some basic skills. This is fine by me. I'm actually really into this course and I find myself trying all kinds of different things to get those AHA moments of understanding and clarity from him. I suspect he may score on the low end of verbal skills in his native language which complicates things even further. I mean, if you don't know why you're saying something in your own language, how can you understand why you do it in the target language? When he tries to pronounce English words it's almost as if he has rocks in his mouth. I find myself laughing quite a bit at his mangled pronunciations but it's a loving laugh and he gets that.

Every day, Monday through Friday, I drill him on the conjugation of BE in the present tense, and we do the days of the week (still not under his belt), the months (non plus) and the seasons (still has trouble with spring). We do the numbers from one to one hundred. We do family members. Then we read a rudimentary text and practice grammar exercises. He dutifully writes down new vocabulary (at least a hundred words a day) and promptly forgets the vocabulary. I know how that is too. Whenever I'm with the uncles who know the name of every plant and tree in the wilderness, I'm exposed to the various names of things. It's so cool to be walking along and have uncle Tom say something like, "Hey, wild onions," and then he'll kneel down a pop out some onions from the ground. You and I would have looked and thought it was just one of a bazillion weeds littering the landscape. Anyway, despite the mini lessons in nomenclature and how to identify certain plants and trees (jefferson pine vs ponderosa for example) I forget all the information within minutes, useful though I find it. The best way for me to remember something is to repeat it in my mind a bunch of times. I can usually remember a phone number that way when I'm without a pen. As soon as I get to a pen though and write it down, the phone number will magically vanish from my memory. So any good tricks to help with memorization? I'd be much obliged.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

It had to be a jag

Whew. Had a bit of a scare yesterday when I received a notice from the car rental company asking how I planned to take care of the damaged rental vehicle. I sure am glad I took pictures and video of the rental car showing the non-existent damage to the vehicle, a little Kia Rio. It turns out since the other party (she a government worker, he a minister) called the rental car company to report the incident, the wheels were set into motion for this. For a second there, I thought I was going to be on the hook for more than the $700 I already paid to the other party. Yeah, they wouldn't go for the "mobile repair" service I had found who gave me a $350 estimate based on the picture of the damage to their bumper. Here, I can blur the license now so you can see how freaking minor it was. Can you even see the scratch? It's that little dot in the middle.

No, see, they insisted on having the dealer (I know) fix it and insisted on having a three day rental car to boot. The reason why they wouldn't hear of the mobile service is because they didn't want it worked on at their workplace and the rules of their gated mansion filled community (I know) prohibited such things. I whined how it was two weeks salary for me but they wouldn't budge. Actually, I liked their excuse because it made sense. I just didn't like having to pay an extra three fifty because of it.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sunday snippets

* Itunes told me there was new Basia available. What?! Apparently it was released in March and they only got around to telling me now. At least they offer instant gratification which I immediately took advantage of. One click and it's downloaded on the ipod.

* Speaking of the ipod, I went ahead and sprang for the new software update. It's rather irritating though, the only difference I've seen is the newfangled way it shuffles. See now you can shake your ipod and it will skip to the next tune. The trouble is that if you are walking and put the ipod in your pocket, it shuffles with every step you take. I paid ten bucks for added irritation, yay.

* Rented Doubt. Yawn. Merril is always fun to watch, but really it could have just been a (very) short story. Nun suspects priest of diddling boy, accuses priest, invents incriminating information and thus priest transfers elsewhere. The end. There, now you don't have to bother.

* Went to greet the bikers from the Toronto to Montreal bike ride Friday. I looked for Snooze but couldn't find (or possibly recognize) her but I did find Don. He seemed smaller than I thought from reading his blog. Sigh it's always like this. I'm the freakishly tall one.

* Booked our tickets to Spain for next March. Mommy's taking the family on a little vacation. It's kind of a replay of a family trip we took in '83. It will be much better this time. Last time I got stuck taking care of my little brother, this time he'll be buying us shots after the folks hit the hay.

* Speaking of shots. No drinking tomorrow. We've decided to cut that out during the week. Not because I don't like it, but because it's expensive and I think it has more than something to do with the weight gain.

* Because of our anticipation of this change we really tied one on yesterday. Yes, we were in full George and Martha mode. I would really like to get that film (Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?) but it's out of print and therefore beyond my budget.

* This was yesterday at the Diverscite site in the village. It's a kind of Gay Pride event that is an annual thing here. We had a look around but that was about it. We used to get so excited about these kinds of things but now we just enjoy seeing the excitement of the newbies. It's kind of like Christmas I suppose. It's all about the kids and seeing their eyes light up now.

* I seem to be eliminating my vices here in my mid-forties. At least there will always be food and sex. I just have to make sure they don't turn into vices too.

* My camera is screwed up again. There are those glare spots again whenever I take a picture. It seems to be a common problem with digital cameras. It's happened to every one I've owned. Maybe that's their master plan, make it problematic after two years so you have to get another one.

* When I went to rent videos Friday, I came up to the counter and gave my phone number, confirmed my name and then specified the number of days I wanted to rent ( 3 versus 7). The clerk then asked me if I was good in English. (since one of the films didn't include the French version) "Pardon me?" I said. He repeated his question and I winked at him and said, "Of course, I'm an anglophone." Woot! I got mistaken for a native. That's definitely a first.