Thursday, December 27, 2007

"joncher"= strew, scatter across
i just read this new word in a saddening context. it was referring to bodies being scatter across the street in a bombing in Pakistan. "Des corps jonchaient le sol après l'attentat de jeudi."
This bombing killed Ex-President Benizir Bhutto, as well as 20 bystanders this morning. I am disturbed to read of death and bodies of the dead being described in such a casual way, as if they were no more than clothing scattered across a room. in the reporting there is too often disregard for the sacredness of an individual's life and death.

when will the suicide-bombings stop? when will we have world leaders that are come to power through merit rather than corruption? when will citizen's voices be heard in ways other than through violence?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

in canada, today is boxing day. in french "le lendemain de Noël" (lan-de-ment).
no, it doesn't refer to the sport. here's an explanation of the origins of boxing day for you american folks, according to wikipedia :

Boxing Day is a traditional celebration, dating back to the Middle Ages, and consists of the practice of giving out gifts to employees, the poor, or to people in a lower social class. The name has numerous folk etymologies[3]; the Oxford English Dictionary attributes it to the Christmas box; the verb box meaning: "To give a Christmas-box (colloq.); whence boxing-day." Outside the Commonwealth, the day is celebrated with a different name.

Folk etymologies- The more common stories include:
- It was the day when people would give a present or Christmas box to those who had worked for them throughout the year.
In feudal times, Christmas was a reason for a gathering of extended families. All the serfs would gather their families in the manor of their lord, which made it easier for the lord of the estate to hand out annual stipends to the serfs. After all the Christmas parties on 26 December, the lord of the estate would give practical goods such as cloth, grains, and tools to the serfs who lived on his land. Each family would get a box full of such goods the day after Christmas. Under this explanation, there was nothing voluntary about this transaction; the lord of the manor was obliged to supply these goods. Because of the boxes being given out, the day was called Boxing Day.
- In England many years ago, it was common practice for the servants to carry boxes to their employers when they arrived for their day's work on the day after Christmas. Their employers would then put coins in the boxes as special end-of-year gifts. This can be compared with the modern day concept of Christmas bonuses. The servants carried boxes for the coins, hence the name Boxing Day.
- In churches, it was traditional to open the church's donation box on Christmas Day, and the money in the donation box was to be distributed to the poorer or lower class citizens on the next day. In this case, the "box" in "Boxing Day" comes from that lockbox in which the donations were left.

Unfortunately, capitalism has managed to ruin any charitable implications Boxing day once may have had. Now it's a huge, crazy shopping day. Everything that didn't get sold before christmas goes on sale, and consumers go nuts. as if we really need more stuff after all the things we've got for christmas! again, according to wiki, " In Canada, Boxing Day 2005 was the single largest economic transaction day ever in the history of Canadian commerce (according to Visa). Individual big box stores can even gross over CAD$1,000,000 on one single Boxing Day."
And despite being a statutory holiday, since i'm a retail slave, i'm heading off to work. on the bright side, at least the christmas music won't be playing anymore!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Its weird to think back, it doesn’t seem so long ago yet it does, when I was still living at home. When we were all together.
We’d go to church Christmas eve, sing, light the candles during silent night and the church would be all aglow, and feel warm and safe and perfect. We’d go home, make fondue, this is of course was in the years before I stopped eating half the food groups. Mum would read a book with beautiful watercolour illustrations and a happy message. I’d have lit the candles, the tree was decorated with out favourite ornaments. The ones we'd made in preschool. The orange one, ben made, shaped like a ginger bread man, made of baked play dough and the head is a round picture of his head, so cute young smiley. The white half foam snowball with my picture in the centre, with a horrible boy bull haircut and a gappy smile, sequins around the edges and a green pipe cleaner to attach it to the tree.
Christmas morning, I could yell at ben to wake him up and he wouldn't even be grouchy. We’d open the stockings and the presents and eat pastries from rachel’s and drink hot cocoa. We’d load up the car. Usually me last one to get with all my projects for the day together- my knitting, beading, books. At 125 hollywood, the fire would be crackling already when we arrived. Gram and gramps would have a prickly little tree up with doily starched white ornaments and coloured lights. we’d eat and eat and eat- that beautiful cherry round bread from aunt marilyn. and hard cheddar and crackers and nuts and toffees and norie and I would eat a whole box of mandarin oranges just by ourselves. We’d open more presents, we’d play scrabble, do puzzles, call cousin joe. remember how he’d send us those crazy gifts like fake fingernails and farting machines and worms that pop out of tubes? In the afternoon we’d be so warm and full and sleepy in the sun of the huge windows. So happy, so satisfied.
In that moment, I guess I never dreamed that it would or could be any other way. It’s so different now, its not worse, its not that we’re not doing good things, not that we’re not a family anymore. But I do miss it. I miss our family all living on the same continent, in one house. I miss being in goshen.
I'm learning that i can miss all this without wanting anything to be different from how it is, right now.
merry christmas, dear family and friends. my love to you all.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve: Réveillon de Noël or La Veille de Noel

we just got back from christmas eve mass at the Notre-Dame Basilica. the church is beautiful and the choir was nice, but i missed 8th street mennonite style. warm, loving, community, candles during silent night...

anyways, merry christmas eve. love.

Friday, December 21, 2007

jeesh, i already missed a word of the day. so, i'll make today's a whole phrase:
j'ai la flemme= i'm a blue/nostalgic

this doesn't, however, reflect my current state of mind. my mum's here, and we've had a fun day exploring around the plateau and up to jean-talon market. one of the best parts of the day was coming out of the cold and chowing at Aux Vivres, vegan restaurant. Check out this mouth watering Portabello mushroom sandwich with sprouts, tomato, home made vegan mayo, pickles, lettuce; plus baked potato wedges (with homemade ketchup) and an amazing salad of grated carrots, beets, radish, lettuce, spouts and homemade dill dressing. mmm mmmmmm

here's another pic i took of paper hanging in a beautiful Japanese paper shop.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

fond (noun m), pronounced "fon"
= bottom, base, background
- dans le fond= in effect
- au fond= deep down, inside, at heart
- à fond= all-out, as all get-out
- respirer à fond= breath deeply

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

i'm starting to get excited for christmas. today we had a party for Maison de l'Amitie staff and volunteers at Casa Corfu Buffet, and everyone was wishing each other "joyeux fetes," and it made me realize that it's coming pretty soon. the Buffet was nice, it was good to talk with and get to know more the people that i've seen around or only worked with a bit. as for the buffet thing though, i'm really not a fan. you get into this mentality that you have to just keep eating and eating, even when the food isn't that great. but thankfully, since there weren't that many tasty vegetarian options, ate a lot of veggies, which doesn't do too much damage, right?
what i'm really most exited for in christmas' coming, is some of my family coming! thursday, (only 2 days!!) mum flies in. she'll be here over christmas. then a couple days after christmas dad drives up to stay for a couple of days. i'm sad that i don't get to see more of my family brother b., gram c., p. m. j. n., and j. and a. but at least we have phones and at least i won't be alone here for christmas. i'll also miss seeing 8th st. family, but at least i'll be skiing with some of my most favorite representatives in a few short months!
drum roll please...!!! i'm launching a new feature to my blog. in addition to my sporadic posts, each day i'm going to feature a french word i learned. i'm mostly doing this because i hear new words all the time, but since most of my french practice here is oral, i never learn how to spell them. so by posting them, i'll have to learn how to spell them correctly, and be more likely to remember them as well. yeh! aren'y all you dear anglophones out there are excited to improve your vocabulaire with some random french words? hope so!

thanks to the weather, i learned this word today:

pelle (nf)- shovel
pelleter (v)- to shovel

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Adventures with Angie!
My fabulous friend angie came for a visit Tuesday- Saturday . Here's a run down of our activities:

Tuesday night after Angie arrived and we dropped her stuff at my place, we headed around the corner to Else's pub for hard apple cider and lots of catching up on one another's lives.

Wednes. morning we caught the bus up and around the mountain over to Cote-de-Neiges where we visited the Oratoire St. Joseph and their funky exhibit on 250 Christmas crèshes from around the world. The funniest thing at the Oratoire were these little cards they were giving out- on one side there is a photo of the founder Brother Mareau, on the back is a hole under which there is a small piece of blue fabric, below the fabric is text that states "cloth which has touched the bones of Fr Moreau, Founder." I don't know much about catholicism, so any explanation of why little pieces of fabric that have touched bones are meaningful, and not completely creepy would be appreciated!
Wednesday afternoon we headed to Frip-Prix. The name of this store is a play on words of the french term from used clothing store, Friperie. We had overwhelming success! Each of us got at least 5 great items, including some almost new shirts, and a fabulously ugly bright green sweater.

Wednesday evening we went to Jean-Talon market, which is much smaller now and in a building with removable walls. We picked up some brussel sprouts and when we got home we roasted them with garlic, olive oil and oregano. Paired with some left over split pea soup and bread it make a comforting and delicious super.
Thursday afternoon we headed across town to Happy Tree Yoga Studio for a nice Hatha Flow class.
Thursday night we went out to eat at Du Pain de l'Inde . This restaurant is now in competition with Pushaps for my favorite Indian resto in montreal (and indian being my favorite cuisines, therefore my favorite restaurant in motnreal!). Pain de l'Inde (Bread of India) is a small and warm little restaurant. I was drawn to it in the first place because of the beautiful fabric hanging in the front windows. The menu is simple. Ang and I went with the Thali plates, which are a sampling of 3 dishes plus rice and a huge piece of naan bread. The owner is equally warm and friendly older indian man. he sat down near us to chat for a while and kept bringing us tea, and even gave us free dessert. We ended up staying in the restaurant for almost 3 hours, and not at all due to slow service. As we were leaving, the owner welcomed us to come back soon, promising to sit down a have a beer with us next time. Later Thursday night we walked over to Suite 88 Chocolatier . Suite 88 is in my neighborhood and i've passed it at least 20 times but never went inside until i heard it described on a website as "the Tiffany's of chocolate shops", yet still affordable. When you walk in, it feels like you're in a modern art exhibit of chocolate. The chocolates are arranged in zen-like formations on white plates under glass cabinets. And Oh! are they good. The sales lady gave us a delicious sample of a dark chocolate and honey truffle. We found a few gifts for friends including dark chocolate and cayanne bars, green tea and white chocolate truffles, and candied ginger covered in dark chocolate. I don't think i'll be able to pass Suite 88 without my mouth watering ever again.

Friday morning we slept in and then ventured around the plateau. We went to a local craft show on St-Joseph, and then headed over up to Fairmount. On Fairmount we went to my favorite bagel shop, cleverly named Fairmount Bagels. Its the first wood fired bagel shop in montreal. They've got a fabulous selection of bagels including spelt/buckwheat, rye, muesli, cinnamon raison, roasted garlic, blueberry, cumin, and of course their signature sesame.

Friday evening was the highlight of the week for both of us. We met up with some of my friends from work at went to Cabaret Mado . Mado deserves a blog entry all to herself, but to give you a quick idea. Mado Lamotte is the most famous drag queen in montreal, and probably all of canada. She has a club where she hosts a Cabaret Friday and Sat nights. At cabaret a number of queens perform dance numbers to different pop music. Mado hosts the whole thing telling jokes, stories and working the crowd. We had a great time, and were in awe of these women's costume and talent to dance in 5 inch heals. We got a table right in the front, and we even were the subject of one of Mado's jokes! so see Mado workin her magic, just look her up on you tube .

I'll conclude with my favorite photo from the week-

Thursday while walking around downtown we got the opportunity to take this pic. i'll leave an explanation up to your imaginations.

Thank you so much for coming to spend the week with my ang, i had a blast!!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Holiday Feast-ivities!

Last night we had a HUGE holiday feast. All afternoon that kitchen was full of music, cookie and pie baking, ham roasting, soup simmering, laughing and general merry-making. My roommates and I all invited a couple of friends, and everyone brought a dish to share- we ended up with quite the feast: Split Pea and Butternut Squash Soup, Chickpea Salad, Edamame bead and mandarin salad, roasted turnip and apples, maple glazed ham (for those carnivore types), broccoli salad, homemade buns, Moroccan oranges, maple glazed apple pecan pie, cranberry orange cookies, ginger bread cookies, chocolate clusters, milk candies, du vin rouge, and homemade eggnog!
It was a fabulous mix of friends, food, and lively banter.
After cleaning up a bit, we bundled up our full bellies and went "tobogganing" (with cookie trays and plastic sheets) on the mountain. It was a fabulous night.

Here recipes of what i made for the feast:
Split Pea and Butternut Squash Soup
- Olive Oil
- 1 large yellow onion, sliced
- 1 + Tbsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tsp tumeric
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup split yellow peas, dried
- 4-5 cups water and vegetable bullion
- 1 medium butter nut squash, peeled and diced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Sour cream and chives (to garnish, and thus - optional)

Place a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, and cumin. Cook the onions until they start to caramelize.
Add the bay leaves, tumeric, water and peas. Lower the heat to a simmer (185 degrees F) and cook until the peas are soft, about 90 minutes give or take 15 minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and diced squash. Raise the heat until the soup comes to a light boil (210 - 212 degrees F) and cook for 20 minutes. At this point, remove the bay leaves and star anise. Puree the soup either through a wand or a blender. Return to heat and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes.
Top with sour cream and chives and serve.
Serves 4-6
Cranberry Orange Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg until well blended. Mix in 1 teaspoon orange zest and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the orange mixture. Mix in cranberries and if using, walnuts, until evenly distributed. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cookies should be spaced at least 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons orange juice and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the tops of cooled cookies. Let stand until set.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Its weird that this is my first post about yoga since it is such a big part of my life. I took my first yoga class at the ymca when I was in grade 7. I loved it from the beginning, and continued to take classes when I could and try a few moves at home here at there through high school. Since starting university, I started taking classes ever semester both on campus and off, and really started to deepen my practice. By “deepen my practice” I mean that yoga started to affect my day to day life- the way that I carry myself, the way that I think about my body, my perspectives, my ways of dealing with stress, the way that I respond to others…
One book that helped me to start integrating this things in my life was Living Your Yoga: Finding the spiritual in everyday life. It’s a very interesting, thought provoking read that I recommend to yogis and non-yogis alike. You definitely don’t have to have done any yoga to take some really valuable ideas and tools from it. One thing that especially sunk in from the read was importance of living in the present. To me this means being fully immersed in the moment that you are in, giving it your full awareness and attention. When I’m doing yoga asanas (poses) the act of being present becomes most clear for me. When it’s a difficult pose, presence almost becomes effortless because I my thoughts are completely in my body, coordinating my movements, breath and energy. Presence is not something that I achieve for a duration of time. I get snippets of full engagement in the present between stretches of memories, planning, worrying, reminiscing, all of which are ways of living in the past or future. Through continuing my practice of yoga however, the snippets can become longer, and my focus steadier, my mind calmer.
Today I visited Heaven Yoga Studio in the west island of montreal because I’m looking into their teacher training program. I’ve been thinking of doing teacher training for about a year now. I don’t think I’ll become a full time yoga teacher anytime soon, but I would like to teach a class or 2 a week to share yoga with others as it has helped me develop so much.
I’m really excited about the training Heaven offers. It’s a fusion of Anusara , Ashtanga and Hatha Flow. I’ve studied all 3 types, and have appreciated elements of all three, and tend to mix them all when I am practicing on my own, so the style taught is perfect for me. The training includes history, philosophy, anatomy, teaching principles and methodology. Even after just one class, I feel confidant that karen , the studio director and teacher, is very well trained and a talented teacher. I’m planning to apply for the intensive teacher training in august 2008 and am really excited to be taking this step.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

mission accomplished. hot water and patience did the trick. i was even able to ride it home and it was kind of fun biking in the snow. makes me tempted to try winter biking eventually... too bad a don't have my semi-truck like Gt Palomer anymore, it handled really well in snow, could have been really good in montreal if i could have winterized it.

in other news, i'm still keeping busy even though i'm finished with my class-work is going well, although i'm not getting as many hours as would be ideal. have a meeting and planning for MIE this week and some work to do for MA language program.

i'm getting super excited for this weekend and next week. this weekend holiday house party- decorating our adorable 3 foot tree (which is making our living room so nice and piney) ((pictures up soon)). and, next week a good friend is coming to visit from waterloo! it will be tons of fun to show her around town.

my bikecapades

conditions have worsened for my bike retrieval. I was working all weekend and i wasn't able to get it. monday was going to be the day. BUT, sunday night "un tempet de neige" descended on montreal. covering us in 2 feet of snow.

still, after my final class at mcgill for the term (whoopie!) yesterday afternoon, i was ready and determined to retrieve my bike. I waded through the thigh deep snow with a thermos of hot water in hand to get to my locked bike. i pulled out my key, jammed it into the icy keyhole, and started pouring water over the shaft of the lock. it seemed to be working, but still the key wouldn't turn. in my impatience, i pulled the key back out, and noticed that as i had been jamming it in, i had bent the rather flimsy key a bit. without thinking i tried to bend it- AND IT SNAPPED! S*&^ D**^#@^^%$(*&**FFFF
I walked home defeated yet again. luckily, my lock came with two keys, so its not as bad as it could be. but i think i'm going to try to get the 2nd copied before i go breaking it. today i'm going to go try a third time (hopefully the charm). i'm going to try to warm the lock more slowly, and not jam the key in. the worst part is that if i ever do succeed in unlocking my f-ing bike i'm going to have to trudge with it about 2k back to my apartment, and then carry it up 3 flights of stairs. pauvre pauvre moi.