Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Only in Montreal... we have an ice storm one week and spring/summer weather the next! Finally my crocuses are blooming! Daffodils are not far behind.

Only in Montreal......
do we hear 3 different languages spoken in the same 5 - 10 minute conversation.

I was in the changing room after my Aquafit class this afternoon. It was a fun class as usual. This time the instructor had us kicking our legs and thrusting arms to the rhythm of some old Country and Western songs which propelled me back to my high school days. Now some of these songs were just fine, but we thought ourselves too "cool" to actually enjoy this kind of music. The Beatles ruled back then. Plain and simple.

 Opening my locker I hauled my gym bag out and groped around for the container of body lotion, but came up with my water bottle instead. Might as well sit for a minute and re-hydrate. No rush. I'm retired. I closed my eyes for a minute and drank deeply. Hairdryers droned and I could hear water flowing from the showers a little further away. Locker doors banged cheerfully. Conversation flowed around me.

A change of rhythm, different intonation, foreign syllables, had me sitting up short. Who was speaking Arabic? I opened my eyes, but the two Middle Eastern ladies were changing at another set of lockers.  I listened for a minute or two enjoying the rhythm of their voices, the pattern of their speech, secretly hoping I could decipher what they were saying (as if).

Then one of them switched over to English. They were talking about aches and pains. Oh. Rather boring. I tuned out and went on with the necessary business of putting my clothes on.

About 30 seconds later, these same two ladies switched over to French. Well, it's not unusual for people to do that here. Start a conversation in French and then continue in English, or the other way around. Or one person speaks English and the other answers in French.

We hear so many languages spoken on the streets of Montreal it shouldn't be surprising, but it struck me as funny to hear 3 different languages in one short conversation.

I wonder if the ladies involved noticed.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Icy April

Seriously Mother Nature?

Icy front walk at this time of year! And no, my gardening buddies, that's not a real geranium - it's fake.  I needed a pop of colour to brighten up our looooong winter. Ice was dripping from the table yesterday, which would have made for a more dramatic pic, but I couldn't step outdoors. Freezing rain was harsh and the porch slippery.
Can you guess why there is a path of ice from the rocks guarding my deck to the tree? The answer is not very pretty - septic field. For those not experienced in a septic system, the water runs frequently (showers, toilet flushing, faucets) which warms the earth above, melting the snow, which then freezes. 

Rock garden looks funny with a layer of ice on top. If you look closely,  you can see a splat of green that belongs to a hardy boxwood. It's sitting at the foot of the shepherd's crook (which I hang my hummingbird feeder on in summertime), bringing a bit of hope to the cold landscape.
My poor crocuses are frozon in their beds. It was too icy for me to go outside and take a pic. But I'm sure you can visualize a crocus popsicle! Purple to be accurate. :-)

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Excerpt from "Walking the path of the cabinet maker"

April this year has been cold and windy - very disappointing, and today is no exception. I thought it was high time to put in the effort and clean up some of my files. Delete the old ones and take a stab at reorganizing the rest.  
I came across this article I'd written while learning the art of cabinet-making back in 2001. 
Strangely enough a lot of the soul-searching I had entered into back then is still in the works today. Maybe another time I'll post my thoughts on that subject.

The woodworking classes were small and cozy. Four women to be precise and nobody was interested in competing. It was a supportive group and I was glad to be part of it. We were there to learn and enjoy our apprenticeship.  

The teachers were patient.  Not once was I made to feel inferior, stupid or incompetent as I stumbled along using incorrect measurements or the wrong tools (I'll bet they chuckled behind our backs).  But whatever they privately thought about their first all female cabinet-making class, they kept to themselves.  

The atmosphere was thick with concentration as we jean and boot-clad ladies focused on sorting through the maze of hand tools, new vocabulary (mortise and tenon joining technique, kerf, mitre box WTH?) trying to figure out which tiny line represented the 1/32nd mark on a measuring tape or how to use a hand saw and keep the cutting line straight. 

It was noisy and busy with the ring of hammers on nails, woodchips flying about (duck!), sawdust covering the floor, our aprons and even our hair, when out of the blue I looked up to see our teacher, Gary stepping out of a back room, tea-tray in his hands.
What a treat! In the midst of chaos we were to stop and have tea.

We looked at one another with huge smiles as we shed our aprons and wiped grubby hands on jeans. Gary was already pouring the tea into delicate bone china cups as we gathered round, chatting excitedly as if we'd never had a cup of tea before.

Hmm, he must have a wife somewhere, judging by the pattern of pink roses on the china, I thought to myself. 

Accepting a steaming cup of brew with a splat of milk, I took a sip, closed my eyes and relaxed into the moment. Ahhhhh, it was nice to stop for a bit of a break. 
“Does anybody have a spoon?” 
My eyes flew open.
I looked over at Aggie, searching desperately among the tea things.  
“A spoon?!” The teachers looked up in horror!  
“Naw – just use a piece of wood (that was Chris, teacher #2).  

Ewwww, I thought. 
What a picture we must have made: four dust covered, work-boot clad females sipping our English tea from fine bone china cups decorated with delicate pink roses yet having to stir in milk and sugar with a rough, splintery stick.  
Yup, definitely cozy.