Monday, May 30, 2011

This and that

What are you lookin at? The tail is blurry because he was wagging it. He's been trapped inside for days since we've had rainy weather the last five days. Today is supposed to be nice though so maybe I will be able to squeeze in a doggie park visit for him.

It's not a holiday up here like it is in the US. Our holiday was last Monday which is why we took off to New York. That said, I don't work today except for an evening meeting I'm attending to discuss work issues. This coincides nicely with my going on the wagon. Gonna dry out for a while and see if I feel better overall. I've enjoyed being a lush but there's a fine line between enjoying and depending. I'm going to figure out where that line is and respect it. At any rate, my liver will enjoy the respite.

Yesterday, we cleaned out the closet. We culled 4 giant trash bags of garments out of there. The rule applied: if we haven't worn it in a year, away it goes. There were many items where we held it up and asked, "Is this yours?" "I don't know." "Well, do you know where it came from?" "Nope." And into the trash it went. (We take the clothes to the Salvation Army type place.) This picture would probably have been more impressive if I'd taken a before picture first. At the end of our activity, I felt all smug. Then I realized I'm really acting my age gleaning such enjoyment from cleaning out a closet.

My smug look. Ooh, look got the hairs cut for summer too. Don't need to do anything to them - no comb, no gel, no nothing. That's all I got today, later gaters.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New York, Bullet-style

* Hauled our ass out of bed at 5am to make a two hour drive to Burlington Vermont and catch a 9:30 flight. We reached the border at 6:30 and there were no cars in line. Beautiful. Of course that meant we arrived too early so we were pissed we didn't sleep in more.

* My camera decided to stop working again so we relied on Serge's crappy iphone to take pics. Of course he left it in the room most of the time, the little turd. I really wished he'd had it at our night at Nobu, but I can at least steal a picture from their website to show you one of the items we had. It was raw sturgeon with ossetra caviar and I can't remember the genius sauce underneath. To. Die. For.

* We grabbed a cab from La Guardia. I couldn't quite figure out the guy's accent, but he kept muttering under his breath, "Shit," "Fuck," and my favorite, "fuckin bitch." We had the requisite three near accidents on the way, riding a taxi is always an adventure in New York.

* By noon we had checked in and were out walking the streets looking for some lunch. Our hotel was at the convergence of Chinatown and Little Italy. We ended up eating Mexican. (food, you ding-dong) Some guacamole and a taco plate and one Corona for Serge. Fifty bucks. Oh that's right, New York City is a money suck.

* Everywhere we went, we heard French being spoken. Both Quebecers and Frenchies from elsewhere had invaded the city it seemed.

* We then had a power nap before going out and roaming the city for cheap happy hour drinks. At Posh, all the drinks are half price from 4 - 9pm. Every time the bartender stated the price for us or other customers I laughed. Four dollar martinis? You can't get a fricking beer in Montreal for that let alone a martini.

* Then it was Priscilla Queen of the Desert time. Though I knew it had gotten mediocre reviews and it had been recommended that we liquor up before going (which we did quite nicely) it was one of the funnest broadway experiences I've had. I LOVED every minute of it. The camp, the costumes and the music were all so fun and the audience was on their feet at the end with thunderous applause. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but we both really enjoyed it. For me, it's right up there with Wicked.

* Did we have more cocktails after that? Why yes, yes we did. As they say in French, we drank like a hole. And then we had that quintessential New York moment, eating a giant slice of pizza standing up.

* This made the following morning um, challenging. Also, there was a weird smell in the room like the previous occupant had super B.O. or something. Serge couldn't smell it with his smoker's olfactory equipment but it made me kind of barfy.

* The hotel breakfast was decent, it was what I dubbed "super continental" with all kinds of toast, muffins, waffles (make your own), oatmeal, bagels and cream cheese, hard boiled eggs and fruit, coffee, and orange juice.

* We had planned to go shopping, and so walked down to Century 21, our favorite shopping spot in New York. We went wild and spent far more than budgeted. But where else can you get Levis 501's for 25 bucks? Shoes, belts, shirts, coats, shoes(!) and pants were all tried on and purchased.

* We happened upon a Quebecois tour and tagged along for a bit as she described the buildings going up at ground zero.

* There was a preview center for the 9/11 memorial that we visited. I wasn't prepared for my emotional reaction inside. It was really difficult to relive that day and I started crying and had to get out. Serge didn't see me or he would have mocked me. Next time I'm in New York, I will be more mentally prepared before I go to the memorial.

* Incidentally, the same day, a news item came out that there would be no restrooms at the memorial and that the nearby Century 21 was complaining that they didn't want 10,000 tourists coming by to use their facilities. I don't know why, but it cracked me up. (Okay, it was scat related, that's why.)

* We took our haul back to the hotel and set out for lunch. I had chosen Mexican the day before, so Serge got to choose this lunch. We ended up at a diner on Houston street with a heavily accented New York waitress. We had a couple cokes and a couple of sandwiches for thirty-six bucks. I know I'm too fixated on prices, it's an old habit and it's hard to break. (But I do have to say that we could have bought TWO deluxe ipads for the money we spent on this little two-day junket.)

* I wanted to find a theater to go see Midnight in Paris, but it wasn't in the cards. The weather was kind of crappy while we were there, but there was a nice lull in the rain and we spent a couple of hours people-watching in Union Square. It was a bit depressing seeing how many people are walking while staring at their iphone or smartphone. There were many colorful characters though.

* Then it was time to walk back to the hotel (Union Square to Chinatown was about 20 minutes on foot) to get ready for our big dinner night out. We lubed ourselves with cheap martinis at Posh again (and got hit on, I still got it) before going to Nobu 57. Arguably, our favorite restaurant on the planet.

* The martinis at Nobu are $16. We ordered one anyway.

* Our Hungarian waiter cracked me up. He was very authoritarian. The table next to us ordered and he told them, "You order too much. I bring these things and if you still hungry I bring you rest." With us, he was similar. I said we want Omakase and he asked if we'd had it before and where. Then he said, "I bring you middle Omakase (there were three versions) for repeat customer." That way, we will have different items than when we ordered it before. It was a great call and every plate (eight courses) was a delightful taste experience. If you ever get a chance to go, do it. Of course if you don't like seafood, stay far far away. Most dishes involved some kind of raw seafood.

* I have vague recollections of being in a Tiki Bar after that. Yes, we drank like holes again. I think I'm going to take June off from drinking. Give the liver a deserved break.

* The next day it was time to go home. Sadness. The bank account was relieved though.

* We scored our booze at the duty free shop as we drove home from the airport. We paid $10 for what costs $30 North of the border. This is what the most socialist society in North America looks like.

* And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this little (meaning long) recap of our trip. We had a ball and can't wait to go back again.

* Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but maybe this lengthy post makes up for the week long vacuum. Cheers!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Moving contemplation

This is his look when I say, "Do you wanna.....?" He knows cookie, go for a walk and go to the park so he cocks his head waiting for those words. He sings too. Serge wants to get him to sing, "I wanna ________" but just how can you do that?

Yesterday we went and looked at some condos in a big shiny new tower on the South Shore. (This is just on the other side of the St. Lawrence river.) See, with the crazy real estate prices up here, we're now in a position where we could sell the fiveplex we're in and have enough to pretty much buy a condo outright. And since we've got to refinance in a few months because our mortgage was a five year fixed on a 25 year amortization, it would be possible to sell without any penalties. I liked the corner unit with lots of windows and a view right on the river, and the Montreal skyline behind. Also, a front row seat for the summer fireworks shows. We loved the idea of being 10 seconds from the metro station, the inside garage with direct access to the building and of course the granite counters and shiny stainless steel appliances that are included. Oh and it's a ten minute walk from the college where I work.

Then we talked ourselves out of it. See, smart investors know that maximum leverage is the key to building wealth. If we cash out now, the building wealth part will slow. The smart thing for us to be contemplating is to sell this block and buy a bigger block, such as an eightplex and building equity and appreciation there. We talked ourselves out of that too though because it's a lot of work and it's better to appreciate what you have than go jumping into the unknown. There's some big expenses coming up here in the next few years, some masonry work, the roof and a little basement leakage problem that isn't bad yet, but surely will worsen. I'd love to avoid those, but similar expenses are inherent in any building. The shiny new condo with no tenants and no repairs to be made sure sounds great, but in the end, I think we are making the adult choice.

Of course that could change. The day before yesterday we were talking about cashing everything out and buying a Tim Horton's franchise.

Friday, May 13, 2011

12 of 12

This is late due to the recent blogger site outage.

 Georgie slept alone. I'd say he sleeps with us about half the time. Usually he wanders in at some point in the middle of the night.

My puffy morning face, ugh. I took Georgie on the long walk through Park Baldwin. The trees are just starting to leaf out. Most of the green is some kind of blossom though a few species have leafed out finally. Today we are in the mid 70's and everyone is outside "taking some sun".

This lot has been empty for years and finally a for sale sign went up. Just the land is $850,000. It's at the intersection of two major arteries. It was once a garage/gas station. Every time I walk past, I think of how it's a perfect spot for a Tim Horton's. Franchisees make around $300,000 profit per year on average so I'm just dying to put it together. I figure if I could find 9 investors at 200k, I'd finally have my license to print money. Oh sure it'd be a lot of work, especially at first, but for that kind of money, I'd definitely be up to the task. Who's in?

Breakfast as usual, a slice of toast with a little cheez whiz and a microwave-poached egg. 

For the next several hours I worked on lesson planning and preparation. I was a bad boy at lunch time but it was a beautiful day outside. Serge and I walked over for poutine and sat outside and ate it. Yum.

Georgie likes soaking up the sun too out on the patio. Our jasmine in the background there lost a lot of its leaves over the winter inside and I hope she comes back to life. 

 The magnolia across the street finally bloomed a whole week after I thought it would. I think it's four weeks later than it bloomed last year. I wonder if I took a shot of it then. (I didn't.)

Took Georgie over to the doggie park so he could run his little guts out. 

Dinner was filet mignon on the bbq plus this. It's called corn casserole and I got the recipe from Mark. There are 5 ingredients. Jiffy corn muffin mix, butter, corn (kernel and cream), sour cream and cheddar cheese. I'm thinking it can't be classified as lowcal. But dudes, yumbatron.

During dinner, we watched our show, Un Souper Presque Parfait. It's also my french practice of the day. I don't know why America doesn't have a show like this because I'm sure it would be a hit. It was originally developed in France. Basically, they choose five strangers (often with very different personalities) to make dinner for the others one night of the week. The show is filmed at the contestants homes. They each rate the evenings on a scale of 1-10 and after Fridays dinner, the person with the highest score wins a few thousand dollars. They post all the recipes on the website after it airs. The narrator is very snarky which makes it funny. I submitted my candidacy but haven't heard from them. Pooh.

After dinner, we went on an evening walk. It's staying light much later right now. The tulips are finally up and I didn't even need a sweater or coat. Yay!

Spent the rest of the evening watching the last Big Love disc that we had. At the end of season four, they finally come out! (of the polygamy closet.)

There you have it. A rather uneventful 12of12 I'll admit, but that's just how the day was. If you'd like to see what others have recorded for the 12th of the month. Just click on over to Chad's blog.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


That's the slow cooked tuna belly we feasted on last night. It's bigger than it looks in the photo. It was a bargain at $28. I've had two little pieces of toro (tuna belly) at a sushi bar for $15 and this was like twenty times the quantity. This part of the tuna I think of as tuna butter because the meat just melts in your mouth and is all rich and buttery. The restaurant is very small and we arrived 20 minutes before they opened to find a line 12 people deep waiting to get in. Most of the customers waiting were Asian so I knew we were in for an authentic treat.

The shrimp okonomiyaki was to die for. I haven't had it since I was treated to it by my Japanese students four years or so ago. The best way I can describe it was that it was like a party in my mouth. I'm drooling just thinking about it. We also had octopus skewers (the tenderest I've ever had) and tuna and salmon tartare. Oh and a pitcher of Sapporo. I feel like we have our own Nobu here now at a fraction of the price. Serge and I are planning a Hong Kong (where we met) slash Tokyo (where I've wanted to go forever) trip for our twentieth anniversary and I can not wait to pig out in Japan.

I still want to go to Nobu when we are in New York City in a couple of weeks even though it costs the eyes of your head to go there. (That's a little French expression that doesn't quite translate.) Oh and I got tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert - second row orchestra! (Thanks to commenter Jeffrey C for the link! The Book of Mormon was over $275 for a ticket, so we opted for the campy and got tix for 35% off. Now we don't have to wait in line at TKTS) At that distance from the stage we'll likely be sprayed by singer spittle and hopefully this will prevent Serge from falling asleep like he did last time we saw a musical on Broadway. (I'm still flabbergasted that he did that, but he can sleep anywhere in any environment it seems.)

Well, I've got to get a move on. Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mom and to all the moms out there. We really couldn't exist without you! Oh and one last thing. An old pic of Georgie that was gathering dust in Serge's iphone. The tuna picture above was taken with his phone since I didn't have my camera with me and the Georgie pic was an added bonus discovery. Have a lovely week peeps!

Thursday, May 05, 2011


Who's a good boy? Poor guy has been trapped inside for three days since it has been raining non-stop for an equal amount of time. This has put the kibosh on the magnolia tree blooming across the street. Perhaps it will when the sun comes out on Saturday as they are predicting.

Our election is over and done. In case you don't know, we elected a conservative majority government. When I woke up Tuesday I went right to the TV and flipped on the news and read the ticker in horror: Gouvernement Conservative Majoritaire Elu.  The only result I didn't want and now here it is. When I went to the LAtimes website, I plugged in "Canada" in the search box. Not one story about the election. There was something about recalled cranberries though that included the fact that some of the recalled items had been shipped to Canada. At least CNN had a (tiny) blurb on the matter, but honestly when your next door neighbor renovates their house, how can you not notice?

I booked us a little junket the last part of Memorial day weekend. A quick big apple trip Sunday to Tuesday. I want to see a show, shop at Century 21 and eat at Nobu. We're staying at the Best Western in Chinatown where internet and breakfast are free. I'm sick of four star hotels gauging you for everything. That's why I bid on a 2.5 star hotel on Priceline for our upcoming (60 sleeps) San Francisco trip which is part of a Lake Tahoe family reunion trip. I was very happy to get the Hotel Whitcomb for exactly half the price listed on their website.

I decided to defriend all my students on Facebook. Since I'm a real college teacher now, it's important to keep that professional distance. My rebellious side didn't want to do it, but I guess I'm finally making peace with the man. I know I've been lax in my blog reading duties, I have so much to catch up on but I just don't have the time. Please don't take it personally! I'll check back in later this weekend. Cheers!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Slow starting spring

Wow, almost a whole week since I've checked in. Looks like this is morphing into a once a week blog. There's the loverly Georgie, sitting lazily with his hind legs slipping out to the sides. A couple of times this week I came home while Serge was out with him on his afternoon walk. What's so cute is that Georgie knows that I'm home, from my particular human stink I guess, and goes wild in the entry way before Serge lets him in the house. Once inside, he tears around looking for me to give me kisses. It's so cute and makes me fall in love all over again with him.

I've been trying to plan a little getaway for a couple of days, possibly during the holiday weekend in May. I inquired at the place I went for the English immersion weekend about their relaxation and foodie package which includes gourmet dinner with wine and a one hour massage. And they responded with the price and their delight in my interest in staying there. Two nights for a mere seventeen hundred and eighty dollars. Um, that's the price of a balcony cabin on a week long cruise! Oh how I wish I was in the kind of life circumstance where I wouldn't bat an eye at such a figure. Of course then I'd be an asshole, since that's probably a requirement for getting there.

Another relatively drama-free week has passed. I'm starting to feel a bit more comfortable in my new job, even though I'm still not completely sure of my role. I start with a new group tomorrow which is always stressful. It doesn't matter how many classes I've given, the first class with a new group always makes me nervous. I really hope I sleep through the night tonight.

Spring is late this year. The magnolia across the street is finally threatening to bloom, if it's not this afternoon, it'll be tomorrow I'm guessing. This has to be at least a couple of weeks behind last year. There's not a single leaf on a tree yet either. Today they're calling for temps in the sixties, so that should jump start things. My goal is to check back in Thursday so until then, have a good one. Peace.