Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tidbits twixt xmas and new year's

One of my facebook buds uploaded this sign from a Hong Kong "Sexual Well-Being Store". I wonder what that in-store demo is all about. Do you think the lady knew what she was promoting for the photo shoot? Anyway, I thought it was funny so wanted to share.

Avatar was great! Just like everyone's been saying. I'm glad it's doing so well too so that we can be assured further episodes. The theatre was a fricking madhouse though. All the Imax showings were sold out so we settled on a regular 3D showing. It was another one of those times when I'm reminded that there are SO MANY people living in this city. One tends to forget in winter when we're all stuck inside.

Hey I heard a funny new Quebecois expression yesterday. We were at our friend Dan's for dinner (he made fondue, yum) and I can't recall what it was that was rare, but he used the simile "rare as Pope shit" when describing it. Which if you think about it, probably isn't all that rare. Still it tickled me, as most scat references do.

Here it is Wednesday already. I've got to finish up my prepping for the January/February intensives and maybe take Georgie to the doggie park. It just needs to warm up a bit. Single digits are not acceptable! Happy hump day y'all.

Monday, December 28, 2009

This and that

Serge rented Bruno yesterday. I have been mildly curious about the film but not too excited since it kinda bombed at the box office and Borat didn't do very much for me. As it turned out, I nearly wet myself laughing over Bruno. Mind you, I cried laughing watching Jackass and Superbad, so my endorsement should carry a huge disclaimer - for immature viewers only. I liked it so much I'll probably buy a copy.

Another thing we're excited about is the new security theater while traveling. Apparently we are to be subject to 100% pat down searches and 100% carry on bag searches before boarding a plane to the states. I told Serge they were gonna pat down his hoo-ha and he didn't believe me. Then I read him the100% quote and he said, "Well I hope he's cute." They're probably much more excited however about the million tits they now get to feel up.

We're planning a pub crawl for New Year's eve. We're going to start at five of course and see how long we make it. One drink per pub. I have to come up with some more rules and challenges. I was thinking we have to accost at least one stranger per pub but I can't think of anything else at the moment. I'm trying to come up with a song too that we can sing to warn everyone of our drunkenness. Sure we'll be hungover the next day but so what, it'll be a whole new year!

Alrighty, this is a pretty standard boring post although you did get a gratuitous Georgie pic. The pet store gave us these little charcoal cookies (we were looking for the anti-poo-eating additive for his food) they suggested to stop him from turd snarfling. So far, they seem to be working though granted it's only been two days. Knocking on wood we are.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The tree comes down today

It hasn't been as cold the last few days and Georgie just loves playing out in the snow. He loves to bite it, burrow in it, fling his chew toys about and frolic. I finally got a clear pic of him which is difficult since he never stops moving.

On Christmas Eve, we went ice skating at the old port as is tradition. Last time we didn't even skate, we just looked on, so this time I insisted on actually skating. I put a video up of it on Facebook, maybe this link will work. While Serge was filming, a security guy came up to him and demanded to see his proof of payment (that blue badge in the pic) which was in his pocket. We didn't pay though. Some customers were leaving and gave us theirs. We did the same when we left. They should probably use some other method, like stamping hands or something.

After skating, we went to see the Bodies exposition. They were all surly about taking pictures there, but another blogger was more successful and has a few posted over here. It was pretty interesting, but a little steep at $25. After that, we were near the high end liquor store and walked through. What a madhouse on Christmas eve! Anyway, there were these bigger-than-magnums of Chateau d'Yquem sauternes for thousands of dollars. Ah to be wealthy.

On Christmas day, we pretended to be rich and had brunch at the Beaver Club here at the Queen Elizabeth hotel. (You know, the place John and Yoko had their bed-in.) It was pretty swanky but my skin crawled a little at the snobby blue haired crowd and the way they spoke to the staff. It reminded me so much of my Ritz Carlton days, and I knew again that I will never be able to play the subservient, "Of course madam, may I lick your ass as well," role that such an establishment requires of one. Ugh. But the brunch was FABULOUS! It was a cold buffet and then you ordered a main course. The buffet was chock full of the good stuff. Jumbo shrimp, crab legs, caviar, steak tartare, oysters, prosciutto, foie gras, and tons more. We all stuffed ourselves silly.

And we got a great shot of Serge and me. I think the camera focused on the glassware and the result seems a little gauzy on our faces, which, I believe, has taken years off of our appearance. Not bad for mid-forties. I hope you all had a lovely holiday too!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mhairy Christmas

So here's the holiday picture we sent out with the Christmas cards. It wasn't until after I had mailed all of them that I asked Serge, "That's not a turd in the upper right corner is it?" When he answered in the affirmative, I was a little shocked but then I thought it was pretty apropos considering our household. Who else would send out a poo Christmas card?

Here's wishing all of you the warmest of holidays filled with good friends, family and of course food!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Georgie's a pretty dumb dog. He ate a glass ornament the other day. Well maybe not ate exactly but broke it up into a bazillion tiny pieces like he does with the used kleenexes he fishes out of the garbage. We've both got colds right now so there have been plenty of kleenexcapades on his part. Anyway, when I saw the glass ornament he chewed up (chewing on glass sound like fun to you?) I said, "If you die because you ate glass, you deserve it!" Dumb dog. But I love him still.

I finally got a purple shirt. I've been wanting one for a while now. I still would have liked it a shade or two darker but it'll do. Yeah, we were goofing around with the Christmas antlers the other day. Alcohol may or may not have been involved.

Serge has gotten hives twice in the last week. It's always different. Usually there is swelling in strange spots like his lips or his weenis. Occasionally he'll get a rash all over his body. This last time, his eyes practically swelled shut. He thinks it's due to the terrible abrupt coldness we've encountered since we got back from the Caribbean.

Two days til Christmas, ready or not!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Double take

We had a heck of a time figuring out whether nudity was on display. This lady drew many perplexed stares. Turns out she was wearing a flesh colored bathing suit. I left the photo big so you can click to verify. Oh how we giggled though.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Insomiacal ramblings

* While we were gone, we put Georgie in this place which is nearby our place. We had gone over and met the young couple and checked out their apartment and thought it was a good fit. Well. Georgie was a bad boy. Seems as though he is house trained only for our house and doesn't really get that other houses are also no-pee zones. Apparently he peed on their bed and also lifted his leg on the grandmother who had come to visit. Obviously, he is not welcome back. It'll be the kennel for him from now on it seems.

* I'm sick with a dang cold and I hate it.

* It's a new age. Whenever we come back from a vacation, we have new friends to add to our Facebook buddies. In the old days, you maybe exchanged an address and corresponded once or twice. Now, it's like having living souvenirs.

* One night in Cuba, we were at the Place de la Musica, an outdoor congregating place where local bands played and Cubans and tourists alike hung out to listen. A little dog was working the crowd when he came upon me and I pet him, he jumped into my lap and fell asleep. Something about the canines, they *know* I'm a sucker for them.

* We watched the Hangover. I had already seen it but Serge hadn't. It was funnier the first time around. I was hoping to be in shape to go see Avatar today but I'm feeling puny and will likely camp out on the sofa instead.

* I'm here writing this at 3:30 in the morning because Serge is snoring incessantly and I can't sleep. Of course I can't breathe either. Did I mention I hate being sick?

* I still haven't been paid for the classes I was supposed to give but didn't. I keep bugging them about it and though I'm receiving assurances, I'm not receiving any moolah. This is frustrating. Especially at Christmas time.

* Georgie has denuded the entire low branch area of the Christmas tree. He takes one item at a time and chews it up, tearing it into a hundred pieces. I'd hate it if it weren't so cute.

* Some new behaviour has befallen me. I'm now falling asleep in front of the TV. Serge has mentioned this to me over the past few weeks but I didn't believe him. Finally, he took a video to prove it. This is BIG. I have never been able to fall asleep anywhere except lying on my stomach in bed. Finally, I'm mellowing it seems.

* Serge on the other hand, has always been able to fall asleep anywhere. In Cuba, while we were watching a very loud (and long) tribal African show, he fell asleep in his chair. Falling asleep at a concert is pretty impressive, no?

* I just checked my lotto numbers. Wah wah wahhh. We don't need the grand prize. Just a couple hundred thou will do. Oh how that would make life easier. (Not that it's not easy already. Sheesh, compared to the Cubans working 18 hour days for chump change.)

* Okay I guess I should try to go back to bed. Get a couple more hours of sleep. Can I rent a respiratory system for the next few days? Because the one I've got is defective. Bonne nuit.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Oh boy is it cold here. I just can't believe how vastly different a place can be after less than four hours in a plane. We had windchill of minus 30C all day yesterday and the poor dog, though he wanted to go outside, once there he started limping all around because of his little tender feet getting all frozen up. He sure is different from Sara, nothing seemed to phase her. I caught him eating a steaming hot turd he'd just produced yesterday too. I banged on the window (he was out on the back patio) to stop him and then I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a baggie and ran outside (barefoot and in my robe) to get it, but he had already snarfled. It really is time to pick up some of that "forbid" product to add to his food. At least his poops are all perfect now.

I think I left part of my heart in Cuba. (Besides with the beau Orlando) I always know I had a good vacation when I feel all bluesy back home. One of the great things about being there was the lack of connection to the outside world. Cell phone didn't work and though we bought a one hour internet card, we only used about half of it to check on email. Actually Serge did most of the checking since he was worried about his clients. I really liked the fact we were unreachable. I spend way too much of my time at the computer, so to blob around reading was heaven.

I keep thinking about when I can go back. A lot of what I liked was talking with the people there about their way of life. Although technically a "communist regime", the fact of the matter is that it's a military dictatorship in complete control. There were many sideways comments like, "Fidel always eats well." When I got them to talking, they were very careful about what they said if other Cubans were about. There is no free speech there and talking against the system in any way can get you into trouble. Well, not you, but them. Everything is controlled by the government, and I mean everything. There were two soldiers residing at the top of the hotel scouting the waters for any Cubans trying to get out to international waters. Likewise, when the plane was taking off, soldiers with long rifles stood watching to make sure no one ran out to jump into the airplane's wheel well. And all along the highways, there were military checkpoints.

But when I asked every person (granted, the people I asked worked in the tourist industry so they probably had it better than many) if they were happy, they took a moment to reflect and answered with a genuine, "Yes." And they make under $20 a month in salary. Some of them get tips too which I'm sure makes them the envy of many. One of the worker's daughters got her first job as an accountant in town. Starting pay $6 a month. Can you imagine? There always seemed to be a lot of workers for not very much work. I heard that yes, they try to give as many people employment as possible. On the last night we had a farewell dinner at a restaurant in town. We were the only customers, 19 of us. There were 11 staff to serve us and then after we were treated to a show with 21 performers.

One of the guides was very open about things once we were away from prying ears. (They are encouraged to rat on each other.) She said that 20 years ago, before the tourist industry got going (a necessity once Russia stopped propping them up after the fall of the iron gate) people were happy because they didn't know what they didn't have. There was only state TV and no internet so they were isolated in their culture and didn't know much about the modern outside world. But now that they can talk with outsiders and see what they have been deprived of (freedom, the power to choose their leaders, the possiblity of wealth) there is starting to be some resentment. But what to do? Unless the military itself revolts, there's not much anyone can do. The people were really hoping for some change when Raul took power but that has not really happened. Kinda reminds me of Obama in that way.

They don't blame the US at all (in fact almost everyone seemed to have a long lost relative residing in Miami) for the embargo, though that has surely negatively impacted their quality of life. The US doesn't want to support the regime (but cough China cough is no problem) because it's not democratic, but it only ends up hurting the common person. I wish Obama would loosen things up so that they could have more goods. We gave a pair of shoes away and you'd think we gave the person a car. Basically everything is scarce or reserved for the tourists. It was really weird to see the bottles of shampoo inside of a locked display case as though they were Rolexes. Still at $4 a bottle, that's like two weeks salary for some. We really are blessed to have been born here in North America.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A taste of Cuba

It turns out I didn't break any laws because though Americans are forbidden from contributing to the Cuban economy, ie spending their money there, there is no interdiction on visiting the island. Since I didn't pay for any part of the trip, I figure I'm clear. Our hotel was on a wonderful beach on the South side of the island near the town of Trinidad.

Trinidad is a colonial city that once was the most important city in Cuba. The Wikipedia entry linked above describes its significance.

Although to our eyes, the town looks mired in poverty, there was surprisingly little begging, very little litter about, and the people seemed to be as happy or more than people walking around our modern North American cities.

I gave him a peso (that Serge gave me, ahem) for letting me take a picture of him. This was in the Plaza Mayor on a tour we took of the town. (Which Serge bought for us, double ahem.)

I really liked this shot of Trinidad.

I grew to love the Cuban music which seemed to waft about wherever we were. By the end of the week, I started to recognize some of the more repeated melodies.

Cuba seemed to be frozen in time. Although the tourists had access to modern taxis, buses, and resort settings, there were many ox and donkey and horse drawn carts about.

The place we stayed at was all inclusive, including open bar. It's pretty much the cheapest place to vacation in our hemisphere and it will probably stay that way until the Americans are able to vacation there. This is something I'll talk more about later, but the hotel employees make less than $20 a month.

We took a catamaran out to do some snorkeling and feast on paella on a deserted island one day. Before we could leave the dock though, our passport numbers had to be sent and approved by the government officials.

Big iguanas wandering around on the island. Eek!

Big conch shells just lying on the beach for the taking. We didn't take any though.

Bottoms up!

Jennifer, Serge's stepmom, took us on this trip and we can't thank her enough! I thought this was a great picture of the two of them.

This is our hotel pool. We alternated between beach and pool. Even though I stayed in the shade the whole time, I still got a mean tan. I don't get how that happens though.

We made lots of friends, including Orlando in the center who was one of the dancers. He gave us a couple Spanish lessons on the last day. I had no small crush on the boy. So cute!

Time to go home. Boo, hiss. We arrived to a foot of snow on the ground and this morning it's 8 degrees Fahrenheit. The post vacation blues are definitely setting in. Luckily, in three weeks we part again.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Cuba Libra!

Ox drawn carts. Hitchhikers everywhere. 1955 automobiles. Smiling people, warm breezes, lovely beach. Cocktails! Absolutely no golden arches. Interesting to see both the down and up sides to the opposite of Capitalism. Free education, housing, basic supplies, health care. Not much incentive to "get ahead" though.

Rum is my friend.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Doggies and toodles

These guys and girls were out in front of the restaurant I lunched at a few days ago. I'm assuming this was a dog walker. So well behaved it seems. But when Frank tried to take a picture, he got snarled at. That reminds me of the big fight I witnessed at the doggie park. A lady came in with her pitbull and kept it on the leash. Georgie was off playing with a golden retriever and the lady was watching them and asked me if the golden was trying to dominate. I said that I thought all dogs tried to dominate in some way, but that they were clearly playing. So she let her dog off the leash and he dashed over to where Georgie and the golden were playing and joined in. A couple minutes later and the terrible dogfight began. It took six of us to get the animals apart, both of them bleeding from the face and neck. Vicious! When they are in fight mode, it seems like it is to the death. Well as soon as we got them apart, I leashed Georgie up and got him out of there. Poor Georgie wouldn't have had a chance against that pitbull. The lady explained that her dog doesn't like to be mounted or dominated and that's why he reacted. The lady with the golden was very upset because it wasn't her dog, it was a neighbor's. Honestly though, if you know your dog might react badly, do not take him to the doggie park.

I got all the Christmas cards done. Had to since we're leaving before dawn on Tuesday. The most expensive part of the process? Postage! I was kinda shocked when I saw it was $55 just for the stamps. Most of my cards go to the states, and a stamp to the states is 98 cents. Plus they add tax on top of it so it's more like $1.10.

We're in preparation mode for vacation again. I've been researching and it seems that little gifts for tipping are greatly appreciated in the undisclosed Caribbean location that we are going to. Sure, money is fine too, but the scarcity of goods makes that money somewhat useless, especially for rationed items, which is basically everything. So I went through the bathroom and collected all the hotel soaps that Serge loves to steal, plus little samples of things I've collected, razors, shampoos, little deodorants. When I showed Serge the bag of stuff I had culled, he said, "You didn't put anything used in there, did you?" Now what kind of moron does he think I am? Of course not! Later, when I was bugging him to go to the store with me so we could pick up other sundry items, he kept putting me off until finally he said, "Don't make me shit, I just want to finish this!" That gave me quite the laugh. Don't make me shit is a very common Quebecker expression that basically means don't annoy me but it doesn't quite translate in English. When I finished laughing I said, "I won't, you can shit any time you like dear."

Okay, this is gonna be it for a spell. They have a business center at the hotel we are staying at so if possible I will update from the undisclosed Caribbean location, most likely drunk. Pictures will have to wait for our return. Until then, here's a lovely shot of our warm Christmas great room. See y'all on the flip side.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Tis the season

I decided to make a sad face like Georgie has. What I really want to know is why it looks like I wet my pants. Does it always appear that way with these jeans, hmmm. We spent a long time trying to get a good enough shot for an xmas photo. These are some of the cuter rejects. We finally settled on one, but you'll either get that in the mail or see it here on Christmas.

He really doesn't want to participate in this activity at all, but we were determined since we didn't do a photo last year. There was no doggie last year if you'll recall.

This was Serge's idea. Don't worry, no pets were harmed in the making of this photograph. Although it didn't make the cut, it made the final considerations. Finally, we decided it was pushing the envelope, but not too much for the blog of course.

Yesterday I had lunch with fellow expat blogger Frank and he turned me onto a little software program that hides your IP address so that I can view content that is only available to those on US soil. It's called Hotspot Shield and it works wonderfully. I can watch things on Hulu now and Comedy Central and the best thing of all, Pandora works again! Now I get why Amazon made it so difficult, it's because there's this kind of workaround when you are abroad. The company actually sells advertising for merchants who want to target expats since we are the ones most likely to be interested in such a product.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The skinny and updatishness

* I know I'm not the only one, but dang do I love that show Glee. And the music! I just had to have Golddigger and Hate on Me. When we were in Massachusetts, I picked up the CD for the music only to learn that a second CD will be out next week. Anyway getting the CD was great because all four of us immediately ripped it to our computers. Itunes makes that kinda difficult and I was actually going to buy it on Amazon, except that they don't sell MP3's in Canada. Amazon had a three dollar coupon which I wanted to use on an import that is $27 at the store but only $5 on Whenever I try to shop there from up here, they tell me they can't sell to me (hear that music industry? refusing to sell to people, excellent business model!) because I am in Canada. So imagine my surprise when they still wouldn't sell to me when I accessed the site from the states. I fired off a letter - I am an American Citizen, using a US bank credit card but I still get refused. Turns out they won't sell to me because the billing address for the credit card is in Canada. So lame, I can walk into a shop and buy any music without divulging my residency, why would Amazon do that? Makes me not want to shop there now. My friend let me use his card though so I still picked up that import for two bucks. Maybe I'll give them another chance.

* Thanks everyone for pointing out the correct location of Benjamin Franklin's grave. But you know, Ben was big in Boston too, born there in fact, so one naturally assumes that the big monument to Franklin in the cemetery is his grave.

* Having lived up here for 9 plus years now, it is surprising that I have never once eaten at one of the middle eastern food chains. That all changed last night. Serge is always chastising me for my tendency to always want to do the same things, eat at the same places etc, but whenever I cave to his mix-it-up pep talks, I usually regret it. In the place I went, called Amir, they had pictures of everything but it all kind of looked the same. I decided to try the thing that looked easiest to pronounce. It was called Shawarma, which I imagined to be named after some arab version of Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie. I didn't hate it, though I suspected the red thing was beets that was in it. Not a big fan of the betteraves, moi. It came with garlic potatoes which might have been more aptly called potato garlics. My poor students in the class I taught right after that.

* It's already December and the Christmas cards haven't even been started on yet. We've been trying to get some kind of holiday picture done to include with the cards but we are having a rough time of it because Georgie refuses to hold a pose of any kind. We're toying with other ideas for the picture now. Here's a failed attempt:

* The tree is up but it's not a real one. I finally decided that it would be better to have an artificial one so that when we go away, we don't have to worry about watering it. My only complaint is that it's too perfectly shaped. That doesn't seem real to me. I might tweak some of the branches to give it a couple flaws. Oh and a little pine odor spritzer so I can pretend to have a live tree. (Why do I want to say "be having" instead of "have" there? It can't be right but it sounds more like what I want to convey.)

* Okay the news. We're taking off next week to undisclosed Caribbean location. I'm super excited since it's another place, country in fact, that I've never been to. It's a gift which is wonderful. We're lucky to have such generous people in our lives. Anyway, I can't really talk about where we're going in detail because, well, you're just going to have to figure it out. Think Desi Arnaz. A week of tropicality and cocktails, woo hoo! Now I must go and work on the Christmas cards. Happy hump day peeps.