Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Checking in

Wow is my butt kicked. I haven't felt like this in a long time. It's all good though. My new classes are high energy and the students, all medical professionals, couldn't be a better group of people to teach. Monday, I started a night class as well, and that was a class where I really had to ride by the seat of my pants (am I getting that expression right?) because I received the course materials one hour before the class started. That class was a college continuing education course, so I had two housewives, a teacher, an accountant, a singer and an audio visual guy. Interesting group.

I'm just stopping in so we don't let the blog die. Forgive me, I'll get back to having somewhat of a life this weekend and then I'll stop by to see you. Happy hump day peeps!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Standard journal entry

It's a rainy day today so it's good we got everything done yesterday. We spent the bulk of the day shopping for a washer and dryer. But on our travels we passed by the SPCA so we stopped to look at the doggies. One of them, Sacha, we both thought was cute so we filled out the form so that we could visit with her. She seemed more interested in the rabbits and cats there at the pound than with us, so we took her outside for a little walk. Lots of energy and the deal breaker, tons of shedding hair. The one thing we didn't like about Sara was her incessant and voluminous shedding. This dog seemed to rival her abilities in this respect, so we said we'd think about it and left. Maybe next week we'll have another look around.

On our travels yesterday we went to a second hand store where they had ancient models of washers and dryers, then to the Sears liquidation center where all the dented appliances were, then Walmart (just in case but they don't have washers and dryers) then Home Depot where the guy told us with a straight face that the $50 delivery fee applied to each item, then to Domon, another appliance/furniture store, and then I saw a second hand hole in the wall shop with an open parking spot in front so on a whim we stopped and there was a practically brand new pair of Kenmore appliances sitting there for $450. We bought them on the spot for cash, no taxes and they were delivered free of charge an hour later. We spent the rest of the day painting the downstairs apartment and new laundry room.

In the evening, Dan came over and we threw dinner together, filet mignon, mac n cheese and brussel sprouts yum. After dinner we whipped up a batch of crepes with the crepe maker. I'll do a recipe post on that in the near future. If you don't see me for a while, don't despair, it's just because I'll be working crazy hours this week. I'll try to pop in even for a baby post though. Enjoy the rest of the weekend y'all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bye bye summer

My class was canceled (at the last minute grrr) yesterday, so I popped over to the gardens to see the state of things. There are still a lot of flowers in bloom, I assume the kinds that do that late in the season, since there hasn't been a killing frost yet. The trees are starting to turn and a few have already dumped all their leaves. It seems I learn something new every year about the autumn colors. Last year it was that the colors were the "true" colors of the leaves once the chlorophyll stops being produced. This year I learned that the bright red colors common with maples turn out to be an evolutionary advantage for them. Trees whose leaves turn yellow are more apt to attract parasitic insects than trees whose leaves turn red. Insects are more attracted to yellow. Apparently, this dynamic wasn't present in Europe so the trees over there don't turn red. New England and Eastern Canada are unique in this respect and thus a whole tourism industry has successfully arisen for "leaf peeping".

This weekend we are finishing up the laundry room and buying (on credit) a washer and dryer for it. We promised laundry in the building to the new tenant who moves in on the 1st so we've gotta get her done. Then this week is the first big week for the new college I'm working for. New for me anyway. I'm excited because it'll be the first time in many years that I will have over a dozen students in the class. It's also a bit intimidating since it will be a group of nurses, but I'm sure I'll win them over with my charm. Don't count on lots of posting though, I have a feeling it's going to be a draining experience. I'll be with this group from 9-4 every day so they should get a lot of good practice.

Other than that, there's not much to tell. Serge is still processing and having lots of bad dreams about his dad. There hasn't been much headway on the paperwork and things since we're still waiting for the will search to be completed. Once we have that, things should start going more quickly. And then sometime in October we'll do some pooch shopping. One thing at a time. Have a lovely weekend peeps.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This and that

So we cleaned up out back. Cut everything out except the bed of irises. They'll probably ticket us for that but since right across the street the city hasn't cut the weeds they are responsible for and they are nearing three feet tall, I will certainly contest that. We live on the border of 4 boroughs kind of like the four corners point of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. I've noticed that sometimes the boroughs don't fully understand where the border of their responsibility is. This has led to missed trash pickups, missed snow removal and missed landscaping maintenance.

After a long break in our Spanish lessons (due to the tragedy) we started up again last night. I don't know why but I find the word for carrot so strange and intriguing - zanahoria. I doubt I'll ever use that word but at least I'll know if there's carrots in a dish on a Spanish menu.

Did you see Nova the other night? They've finally decoded the human genome but that doesn't mean they can solve genetic disorders. There is the epigenome now that turns genes on and off and this thing, whatever it is, "remembers" events from the grandparent's childhood. For example if your grandfather experienced famine during adolescence, you have a higher risk of cancer. They showed another example where they identified the faulty gene that causes two different diseases even though it is the exact same fault. Turns out you get one of the diseases depending on who you inherited the fault from, mom or dad. Just like most of science, the more they look, the more complex it becomes. Also, I understand now how identical twins could produce a gay and straight pair. Turns out that the epigenome also responds to the environment. So the events made during your rearing, particularly the first few years will impact your physiology and personality all your life. That made me laugh because maybe it is mommy's fault after all. Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Snippets long version

* After touring the new bus facility last weekend, they sent me a photo which they had taken of us during the event. They had this green scrim around an elastic headband that, when put on, circled your face with green. Then they took a close-up and later sent the photo of me as "bus driver for a day". For years when I was a kid, I wanted to be a bus driver. After all, what could be cooler than driving a big contraption all day and saying hi to everyone? Later I learned that bus driver is one of the most stressful jobs there are. Still, I sometimes wonder what my life would be like had I gone that route. (oh look, a pun)

* Had one of those emotional ambushes yesterday (thanks for that term Patrick) while I was making a batch of tuna salad. I realized that Serge's dad had had some of my last batch when he came over last month. Serge didn't see me tear up thankfully. Not that I'm shy about it, just don't want to set him off too. I remember Jacques commenting that he liked the spiciness and being surprised when I told him it was tabasco.

* One weird thing about all this tragedy is how much closer Serge and I seem. It's like we are clinging tighter or something. We are both professing our love for one another more frequently. I don't really understand why but I definitely like it.

* Sent a menacing letter to the tenant downstairs who is still without (the rest of the ) money for September's rent. Yesterday was the day we could go start eviction proceedings but we aren't going to do that...yet. He's a good guy and he started a new job yesterday and should be able to square up when his unemployment check arrives. It was delayed for some reason that I am aware of but don't care about. Is no me problem. Nonetheless, I started thinking about solutions and I had the idea that maybe he could work a little rent off so I pitched to him a little painting work which he seems eager to do.

* I was filling out something the other day and when I clicked age group 35-44, I made a little gasp because I realized it's the last year I can click that category. The next one is 45-54 and that doesn't really jive with my mental view of myself. It jives quite accurately with my body's take on things.

* Is there any rhyme or reason as to why hard boiled eggs are sometimes easy to shell while others in the same batch are heinously unwilling to be shelled? Or why sometimes the shell part insists on having an eighth of an inch of white come off along with it? I've tried shelling them warm, cold, after rapidly chilled, after slowly brought to room temperature. There's always that one that won't cooperate.

* Did you see that whorl thing about how the counterclockwise whorl in the hair at the top of your head occurs statistically significantly more frequently on homo heads? In the population as a whole it occurs 8% of the time, gay guys 29% of the time. Mine is clockwise but Serge's isn't. The easiest way is to ask someone to check for you. If you're already permanently bald in that area, I imagine it's too late unless you have a photograph somewhere.

* My class got cancelled yesterday so I had an unexpected play day yay. I read the other day that curiosity tends to improve intelligence so I've been consciously making an effort to be curious. I already am a curious sort (ha!) but sometimes I'm too busy to be. Anyway, I was wondering about populations and found Wikipedia had all the countries listed by population. That cost me three hours as I clicked on (so frickin) many countries I'd never heard of. At least I knew all the countries that Survivor has done a show on like Palau and Vanuatu. And did you know that India had over a billion people too like China? I had no idea they were so close together in population and then the US is in third place. A very distant third place. California has ten percent more people than all of Canada, the second largest country by land mass.

* We got an official warning from the city yesterday. It came by certified mail. We have to maintain in more orderly condition the foot wide strip of land along the alley in back. It gets pretty overgrown and weedy by this time of year. They gave us three days to reduce the height of any growth to no more than 6 centimeters. Getting a warning like that with a letter talking about "taking pride in our city and maintaining its appearance" made me feel trashy.

* The Emmys were kind of creepy for me. The older Neil gets, the more he reminds me of my ex. Same look, same mannerisms. My ex was adopted. You don't think that they're, nah probably not.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend update

It really was a lovely day yesterday, weatherwise. Perhaps gloomy skies would have been more appropriate for a funeral service. I don't know. This is the church where the service was held. I got roped into helping the preacher read a prayer and passing around the collection plate. This was probably good since I focused on that instead of getting weepy like all those around me.

I do see the value of having a service. It brings a sense of closure, lets loved ones share their grief together and lets us celebrate the life of someone beloved. Afterward, twenty or so people came over to our house to nosh and sip out on the patio and share fun stories of Jacques. The funeral home gives you a bill after the service. Later when I read it, I couldn't believe what a racket it is. There was $850 for professional services, then $300 each for coordination of services, supervision of services and aftercare services. What's the $850 for again? We spent all of an hour with them, oh sure it was a good, productive hour, but I think that part totaled $1950, less than half the total cost. Nobody really feels like shopping around when someone has just died and I guess they take advantage of that.

In the evening, we went to Sean and Jeffrey's meet and greet at Eric and Danny's house. Oddly it was right around the corner from where the service was held. The weather turned pretty chilly so we stayed inside and had cosmos, burgers, sausages and salad. It was a nice way to let go of the events of the day and be distracted for a while. Plus I ate something new.

Saskatoon berry pie! Also known as serviceberry or juneberry, it tasted much like blueberry with a little extra something mixed in. Quite tasty. Yesterday at one point I looked at Serge and asked, "We don't have to do anything tomorrow, do we?" I was so happy when he said no. A whole day ahead with nothing to do. Heaven.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I seem to have run out of things to say. Everything is stuck like a skipping record. For example today I have to go have a second interview for a job I've already got. A formality due to the requirement that a new employee be interviewed by two people. Since there was only one person present at the original interview, I've got to go back. I've half a mind to show up in jeans and unshaven. Nah, that'd be childish.

I haven't even snapped any pictures this week. Oh the trees are starting to turn so I could be snapping away, but instead I think, yup just like last year and the one before that and the one before that. Mind you, I still love it, I'm just not moved to capture it on film. Maybe next week, or maybe next year.

Ordinarily, I'd whip out a fun poop story in this spot. The best I've got is the fart cloud I walked through yesterday. See, there was a group of people walking down the stairs into the metro. They were near the bottom and I was just descending when whomp, I'm breathing in the shit molecules from someone's ass. I'm pretty sure it was the octogenarian gripping the rail and slowly making his way down. Easy to forgive, but whew, a bit harder to forget. It was so stinky I think I could have chewed it.

Isn't this fun? Aren't you glad you stopped by? I know. I'll try to do better in the future. At least it's Friday, that's something to be happy about. I hope you have a good one.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


It's blank screen with nothing to say time again. Ever since the death everything's been kinda crummy. And slow. We still haven't got the will (maybe today) and the list keeps growing of what needs to be handled eventually. I'm detached enough that it just looks like chores to me but for spouse, it keeps forcing him to have all those big bad feelings. I know they're not bad but you can't exactly classify them as warm and fuzzy. Yesterday when a sudden cry descended on him, he said, "I'm tired of the emotions." Yeah buddy, welcome to the human race. I just held him and said, "I know."

I went to pick up the rest of the rent (one of two majorly late this month yay) and the tenant had a new doggie. So cute and ugly at the same time. It's a chihuahua mixed with who knows what. (His name is Puce, or "flea") Very mongrel and spitting nails when I got there but he warmed up after a minute and let me pet him. It reminded me how necessary it is to get a new furry friend. This is the thing that's going to finally change the air around here. In a couple of weeks we'll get serious about it.

I was relieved that Natalie didn't win Big Brother. I wasn't really rooting FOR anyone, but rather against her. I can't really put my finger on it but I didn't like her even if she did strategize well. Most of the time I just wished she'd shut up. Summer is really over now. Next up, all the season openers of my fave sitcoms, 30 Rock, Old Christine and Big Bang Theory. Oh and Survivor too!

I think I'm actually going to have to wear a jacket this morning when I head out to work. Boo, hiss. Once the jacketing starts, it doesn't let up until next May. I think they can hear my sigh from Mexico. Happy hump day peeps.

Monday, September 14, 2009

More that

I was supposed to do 12 of 12 but I just didn't have it in me. That was the day we went over to the church where the service will be held. Ugh. Serge asked the guy if the service could be short and not too religious (since his dad was a staunch atheist) and got a rather snotty reply. I guess it would be like asking a chef to prepare you something with no flavor. Then we had a weepy breakfast with the widow. All so very much fun to take pictures of, not. I did get a shot of din din which (I hope) demonstrates a tilt toward more healthy eating. We're trying to buy all the blue menu items (President's Choice lower salt, fat and calorie products) and avoiding dessert.

Yesterday we went to the open house of the STM, the public transportation organization. They opened a new bus garage and invited the public for a look see. We saw the brand new facility and learned useless facts about the buses. They are washed 3 times a week in summer and every day in winter, for example. It was a nice (and free) way to kill a couple of hours. When we got home Serge finished calling everyone on his list to inform people of his dad's passing. We are learning exactly what we need to prepare in case one of us croaks. And we have NOTHING prepared. What if we both died in a car accident at the same time? It would be very difficult to step in and know what's what. We plan to rectify that in coming months.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This and that

This whole week has been quite the trip. More so for Serge as you can imagine. He's been finding things out that have rocked his perception of his father. I'm not allowed to say more, but do we really know anyone? We had an appointment with the funeral house and they gave us a big list of what to do and the steps to take to do them. The widow (not Serge's mother) and Serge were kind of catatonic at that meeting so I'm glad I went to ask all the questions and take all the notes. Of course the first thing to do is locate the will. Should be easy right?

We suspect that a copy of the will is in the safe deposit box but in order to get into the safe deposit box you have to have a copy of the will showing who the executor and beneficiary is. Classic catch-22. So now we are waiting for the will search which we can use to get a copy of the will from the attorney so that we can get into the safe deposit box. Of course we'll already have the will by that point, but perhaps there are more surprises inside. The service is going to be next Saturday.


I got a new two week contract that started yesterday. Yes I finally finished with my learning challenged student. I know now that he was challenged because with the new student, although he arrived at a similar level as the first, there was more progress in one class than 10 classes with the other guy. Yay. Less tedious for me. And boy have I been lucky. As it turns out, I wouldn't have had any work at all if I hadn't picked up these gigs at the college. Here I was worried that I might piss someone off and close doors, when in actuality the doors had already been closed! I like the newness of it all even though the work is the same. New faces, new places, new schedule. It's good.


The weather has been spectacular and promises to be so for the coming week as well. Perfect temps in the 70s during the day makes it feel like Southern California. Cool nights and low humidity too. The leaves are starting to turn which is lovely, I just love the autumn, but that also means the white stuff isn't too far away. Best not to think about that now. Have a lovely weekend peeps.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Marching on

It's been a weird couple of days. I must say that I am very happy with the nanny state that we have here. Even though that's a pejorative term, I think taking care of the family at a time like this is very forward thinking. The government gives $2500 when you die to help with costs to the family and they give you all kinds of support information starting with the brochure "What to do after a death." So yeah, there's all these things to DO when all anybody really wants to do is sit around and weep. But life goes on, inevitably, incessantly. Only Serge and I saw the body after they unplugged him from everything and we both wish we hadn't. It's a haunting image that we can't shake. Here lets talk about something more pleasant.


On Sunday, due to my insistent prodding, we went off for a hike in the woods. It's a place we went to a couple of years ago (and I wrote about but cannot find that post now) about a half hour's drive from home. It was a perfectly beautiful day and we took a different trail than what we did last time.

This was at one of the summits. The day was spectacular.

The video is from the second summit Pain de Sucre where the view was panoramic.

After the two hour workout, we went down the hill to find a riverside cafe where we shared a plate of nachos and a beer. The mountain we climbed is in the background there. It was a perfect day until we got the calls in the middle of that night.

There was another time I was awoken by the phone in the middle of the night. I was housesitting for my parents while they were in Europe. One night the phone rang and each time the answering machine picked up the person hung up and redialed. This went on for 10 minutes without stopping before I got out of bed, totally enraged, and picked up the phone and screamed "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT!" at the very tippy top of my lungs. I'm surprised my hair didn't catch fire. It was my mother on the other end of the line with friends and relatives on speaker phone from France. Speaker phone! Rage melted into embarrassment rather effortlessly and it was after that that I realized that all emotions are just different shades of one another be it love, hate, greed, embarrassment, jealousy or sadness.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sad day!

When the phone rings at 4 in the morning there really are only a couple of possibilities - a wrong number or bad news. Such was the case yesterday when the father in law had a stroke. His wife called three times before we awoke to hear it. Serge talked to her and she said he'd had a stroke and was in the hospital. I went back to bed because it was cozy and warm and I was not really expecting to fall asleep. But I did fall asleep and Serge went over to the hospital to wait and wait and wait. There's no way to know what the damage is until/if he wakes up. His legs were moving so that was a good sign.

I spent the morning listening to sad songs and thinking about the loved ones in my life, tearing up now and then, the waves of weepiness washing over me in unexpected gusts. Then I went down to the hospital to lend support. The last time I was in a hospital was for a birth 15 years ago. This occasion was far more sombre and the whole day felt like a movie, real and surreal at the same time.

A couple of weeks ago, his dad came over to shoot the breeze and have a couple beers. They had a nice time together and I made sandwiches which we ate outside under a cloudless sky with light breezes. We noticed he had seemed much older since the last time we saw him, he had lost weight but was in good spirits and seemed happy with life. It was the last time for them to bond like that.

They declared him dead early in the afternoon, the blood having filled up the cranial cavity and basically suffocating the brain tissue. We had been waiting for conclusive tests that he was braindead when his heart stopped, and the nurse came down and found us in the cafeteria to let us know. The color drains from a body quickly once the heart has stopped.

Serge has been surprised at how much emotion is occurring within him. How do you reconcile the sudden loss of a parent? Not with swift and ease, but with painful reckoning. I did my best to console though if you cry it's a pretty sure bet that I will, so that's what last evening was all about.

I played the sad song for a while which really wrung out the tears. I don't know why, but this song elicits sobbing rather easily.

This morning I head off to teach, and then to rejoin the machinations of death. Give your loved ones a kiss today, you just never know when it'll be the last.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

La flop

So we went to the big amusement park Friday night by a special bus they had running. It dropped us off here under part of the Jacques Cartier bridge. That is where the amusement park lies as well. Since we got there 15 minutes before they opened, we walked around snapping pics. We noted about 20 people waiting for the park to open and that was the first sign that this night wasn't going to be what we pictured.

They had a toilet available and when I availed myself of it I noticed the sign above on the door. I think it should get most unnecessary sign of the year award. How the heck am I supposed to leave if I don't unlock the door?

I thought the play between the bridge, the light and the clouds was mesmerizing. But then I'm always mesmerized by the sky. We went into the park with about 30 people and wondered if this was going to be a washout in terms of attendance. We walked to the newest roller coaster, Goliath, which turned out to be the best roller coaster I've ridden. We sat in the back and a few others were in the front. We rode it a second time in the front right after and we were all alone on it for that run. You can kind of get the gist of the ride here. It's just a series of, I don't know, maybe 10 up and downs. But in the back you get airborne in your seat and your stomach attempts to exit your throat.

I felt a bit nauseous after two consecutive turns so we walked around a bit and a sudden shower developed over us. We chilled under an awning and you can see how eerily empty it was. At one point as we were walking around, a skunk skulked out from under a bush and scurried across our path to another bush. That halted us in our tracks alright. And it was so incongruent with our surroundings.

There were supposedly 500 people there. This meant that there was no wait for any ride and also that many of the food and beverage stands were closed. One nice thing was that all the photo selling booths were closed, you know, the ones where they take a pic of you on the coaster and then peddle it to you after.

We did find a tavern and sat down for a stomach settling martini. Later we had a poutine. In all, we rode on every roller coaster (open, one was closed) including all the biggies. I used to love love love the coasters and my brain still wants too, but then I find myself chanting "please let it be over, please let it be over" and "please don't let me vomit, please don't let me vomit" once I'm actually on the ride experiencing it. I don't know, that phase of my life just might be over. So be it.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Yay it's Friday

Here it is Friday and in a few hours it will be a long weekend. Happiness. We're going to the local amusement park, Six Flags La Ronde, this evening for a private "gay night" at the park. The weather has been picture perfect so we should have some fun riding the roller coasters and ogling the ogleables. The biggest wooden coaster in North America is there and it's poised to win the Six Flags coaster contest, basically a popularity contest that you can vote for. Le Monstre is definitely going to win unless something drastic occurs. I was checking the park regulations and one weird thing caught my eye. It is absolutely forbidden to take a picture or in any other way record being on a ride. What? I can't snap a picture at the top of the ferris wheel? Apparently it's a no-no. However, by purchasing a ticket, you give Six Flags the right to photograph you and own the photography for any purpose. Hardly seems fair.

I'd regale you with more if there were more, but sadly all I've got is this vid for you. Serge made a home improvement and once again, I didn't notice.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Humpday happenings

I was 14 months smoke free yesterday. I say was because I had a little celebratory puff. And if you are gasping in your seat, don't take it too hard since I'm only pulling your leg. I totally forgot this "anniversary" so I guess I've finally stopped keeping track. In fact, it was a complete surprise when I got the little congratulations email from the Quitnet, "What anniversary could it be?" I asked myself. According to the same email, I've saved $2242 and added 3 months and 7 days to my life. Neither of those strike me as chump change. Yippee.

OMG you guys. My student, you know the one I've been working with for the last month, day after day, hour after excruciating hour? Well, he has been on pain medication on and off for his back but then last week he had gum surgery and has been on some heavier medication. He showed me the bottle yesterday. Dilaudid. I don't know much about painkillers since I've never taken any apart from aspirin but I seem to remember that one being a biggie. Yes, a quick scan on Wikipedia confirms its heavy dutydom. I have a feeling that learning will be retarded along with any pain. Oh well, I get paid the same.

We found a renter for the unit downstairs. Another newcomer to the area from Brazil. He seemed pretty nice and since he's not moving in until the 1st of October, we'll have plenty of time to spruce it up and eradicate the terrible body odor stench. The current guy is leaving on the 15th. Anyway he was so anxious to have the place that when we told him to come by today so we could pick up a lease, he said he would go buy the lease himself and come right over. So that's what he did. Saved me a trip to the store. I think he was afraid we'd change our minds. Anyway now we have to get the laundry room finished down there too since we rented it with access to laundry in the building. That's this year's upgrade. We'll be able to get a little more for the units and pay ourselves back for the work in three years. After that, gravy.