Sunday, April 4, 2010


This long weekend "thing" where the weather is incredible and I get to spend time with family and friends has been pure bliss. It is also a nice transition between two jobs. I finished my contract with the non-profit on Friday morning and start a new job at Cirque du Soleil (woohoo!) on Tuesday. I'm very excited about the weeks ahead, can't wait to see what it is like to work with the circus people.

Yesterday, I experienced getting a pedicure from little fishies. I went to the salon Tami Beauté des ongles on Duluth where they have large tanks with tiny little Garra rufa fish that are the size of minnows and seem to like eating dead skin. Patrons sit on a bench after having their feet inspected and washed (to make sure you don't introduce diseases into the tank) and lower their legs about mid-calf into the tanks where the little guys get to work immediately (they must not feed them too often). The sensation can be compared to soaking your feet in bubbly water with a light massaging sensation. I'm a little bit ticklish, but not to worry, there are only a few instances when I starting giggling and it was because a fish was nibbling at the space between my toes. My friend Dina and I (she discovered this place) sat for about 20 minutes and then moved on to a more traditional pedicure in a massaging chair at the back. The entire experience, from beginning to end, was a bit long, almost two hours, but hey! it was two hours of very relaxing girl time with my good friend. When then went for a stroll on Saint-Denis with our feet in sandals (to show off the perfectly applied nail polish) and shopped for dresses before heading home. April 3, yet it felt like a Summer day. Bliss.

Today is Easter brunch with the family and my grandma, then probably some spring cleaning and relaxing at home. It's a bit windy outside, but still really warm. Bliss.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


It's 8:10 am on a Sunday and I am as awake as can be. I've had my first coffee, toast, and the dog has been walked and fed. She is chewing on her Nylabone while I catch up with the latest Olympic news online. Jenna doesn't know Sunday from Tuesday, so most mornings start at 6 am sharp. Did I mention that I haven't used an alarm since November?

Thing is, once I'm out on our morning walk, I'm really enjoying it. We walk at a fast(ish) pace, sometimes are the first ones to step onto fresh snow, and we get to see the city when it is still very quiet. We're out there when the oil trucks are finishing their run and filling the last few tanks. We're out there when the newspaper delivery guy throws a few copies of The Gazette (or La Presse maybe) before running back into his car. It used to be that we would leave the house in the dark, and return in the dark, but for the past few weeks, it's light out when we head back home.

I've been so busy these past few weeks that it has impacted my ability to head to the gym or go climbing. I would feel sluggish if it wasn't for those daily walks. The morning walk lasts around 30-40 minutes and I am always warm when I take off my coat. The evening walk can be short, or very long, depending on the weather and the behaviour of the dog. Sometimes she is just too excited to take on a long walk. And there are occasional lunch-hour walks, very short because I only have a limited amount of time to walk Jenna and eat before I return to work.

Having a dog is a lot of work, but it also has many rewards. Being forced to spend time outside and exercise daily are two excellent rewards.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A new year, hopefully filled with lots of new experiences

So it's 2010, and two days after the start of the year, I am sitting in the kitchen, warm slippers on my feet, wearing a thick sweater, enjoying that I am indoors on such a cold, windy winter day. There's a crazy storm pounding Montreal right now, I know because I've been out a few times to walk the dog and shovel snow. I was originally going to accompany my dad, sister and brother to the chalet for some snowshoeing. However, with the weather being a bit cold for comfort (damn wind) and my fighting something right now (I feel very tired and my throat has a tickle), I decided to stay home and have to admit that I'm glad I did.

A few changes in my life probably also help explain why I am feeling so tired these days. The puppy Jenna, even if she is great to have around, is a handful. She needs to be walked early in the day, usually between 6 and 6:30 am. That's my shift for now, as I started working in December and have to get up anyways. Brendan looks after her during the day, an arrangement we'll have to adjust when he goes back to work on January 18. Since my work hours are flexible, I will probably drop by the house at lunch time to feed her and let her out, at least until she is old enough to stay in her crate for 8 hours at the time. It's also hard to relax when we're always keeping an eye out for her. When she is not in the same room as us, we tend to regularly check up on her to make sure she is not destroying shows, walls, baseboard, or chewing on tea towels. Yes, puppies chew on everything, even when they have their own toys to destroy.

Work! Yes, I haven't mentioned work until now. I started a short-term contract with a non-profit organization led by a friend of mine. I am helping him figure out his business and technology strategy. A big part of the work being done by the organization evolves around a web-based community of members, so technology is a key part of their day-to-day concerns and it brings its share of trouble. The organization has pretty much set its strategic objectives, but it now needs to translate these objectives in concrete action plans, something else I am helping with. The contract was signed for two months, it might stretch a bit into February depending on the progress of various initiatives. I am not sure however that there is a long-term position in the works for me, so I am keeping my eyes open for other opportunities. Working a bit for a few months is really good for me, it keeps me busy and allows me to further develop a few skills. I am grateful for this opportunity.

Next week, I start school. I can't wait, I will be studying about a subject that I am highly passionate about. I made a large purchase in preparation for the semester: I bought a Mac Book Pro. I needed a laptop for school, to be able to take notes in class, and I only had a desktop at home. After researching the different laptop brands, I chose the Mac Book Pro. It is not the greenest laptop on the market, but it was designed with low energy consumption and recyclability in mind. The change to the Apple OS and software has not been too difficult until now, although I have only used a very small part of the available software to browse the Net and sort my pictures. I'll have to see how easy it is to work with the iWorks suite, and to convert some of my old PC files into Mac. I have to admit though that having a laptop has been really convenient. I can sit in the living room to work and I have purchased an adaptor that allows me to connect the computer to the TV to watch movies in high definition. Very nice.

Holidays were great this year, except for my grandma ending up in the hospital on Christmas day. She is OK now and under observation, but it is possible that she is no longer able to take care of herself and needs to be placed. This is not bad news, my parents have been worried about her ability to look after herself for a little while now. I will call her tonight to see how she is doing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Family time

One of the key reasons I decided to move back to Montreal after spending six years in Vancouver was to be able to spend more time with my family. It's just not the same when you are a five-hour plane ride / three timezones away. I missed being able to be part of the little, no-reason-just-because get togethers and meals. Now that I am living in NDG, a 15-minute walk away from my parents (and with my sister living upstairs), family time has been a somewhat regular occurrence.

On Saturday morning, family time had a purpose. We met at 9:15 at my parents' to canvass one block of their street for the 2009 NDG food depot Christmas food drive. Everyone was there, boyfriends included. All seven of us managed to fill my brother's new car to capacity (and he drives a wagon which has quite a bit of trunk and passenger space). Folks on the street were really receptive and generous. I'm not surprised, the NDG food depot is a great organization with many programs to help people who are facing difficult times. The numbers have been growing with the slowing economy and donations are sometimes hard to get. Hopefully the annual Christmas drive helped fill the warehouse (located near my place, at the corner of Oxford and Maisonneuve) and will contribute to many filled bellies.

After the drive, we met at my place for a lovely brunch prepared by Brendan. Our bellies were definitely full after this meal! What a great way to spend family time!

FYI: We might be part of a story in L'Actualité on food banks sometime in the next few months. A reporter from the magazine followed us around during the drive and she might even get a few pictures of that morning in the article. I'll keep you posted...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Welcome puppy!!

Well, we didn't think it was going to happen so quickly, but yesterday we adopted a puppy at the SPCA. She is a three-month old Shepherd mix, someone thought maybe she was mixed with a Border Collie. I can see that with the white paws and she doesn't have the Shepherd ears, but her true origins remain a mystery.

Currently responding to the name Jenna, our little girl is an exceptional dog. Although she is a puppy and does go through silly phases where she throws herself all over the place and wants to play, she is also gentle and attentive, and loves to get cuddles. After a few incidents yesterday, as she was discovering her new surroundings, she has been constantly going to pee outside. I've never trained a puppy, but the SPCA had this free DVD on how to train a dog that really helped us understand when she was most likely to need peeing and how to encourage her to go outside. Next steps are leash training and making sure we establish our authority over her so she doesn't think she owns the place. Basically, letting her know who is alpha. Brendan is taking that role very seriously and she has responded wonderfully to his lead.

I posted a few pictures we took yesterday on Flickr.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Environmental management

I recently received the news that I was accepted at Université de Sherbrooke, in their program called Gestion de l'environnement (graduate degree). Courses start in January at their Longueuil campus (brand new building), as long as they manage to sign up enough students. Fingers crossed.

I really like the idea of going back to school (again!!). I got so much out of my MBA, not only from the courses, but also from the other folks in the program. So many became friends and we get in touch every now and then, to see how everyone is doing.

The two-year, part-time diploma at Sherbrooke has a very interesting curriculum and has the benefit of allow me to add a few courses and a thesis to transform it into a Masters degree. I could not believe the tuition for this graduate degree either. The entire diploma costs about the same as three graduate courses in BC. I say this is an excellent reason to continue learning.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It will soon be almost three weeks since I started looking for work seriously (approximately since my return from Paris) and my efforts seem to be in vain. I did not expect to find work quickly, the more senior and qualified you are, the longer it takes to find a job. However, I would have appreciated an interview or two, or even a screening phone call from HR at the very least... some show of interest from the companies where I am applying. I got nothing. The automatic e-mails you receive when you apply online don't count. I even applied for a few positions through contacts already working at the company in question, which I think should have increased my chance of exposure to the right individuals.

The silence is frustrating.

But I guess this is the price to pay when you leave a place for six years. My professional network in Vancouver is rich with folks working across industries, thanks to past jobs and the MBA. In Montreal, my last job was as a technical writer and it ended in 2002. The contacts from that position are few.

I'm positive things will eventually solve themselves and that my resume will end up on the right desk at the right time. It will just take a little longer and I have to learn to be more patient. In the mean time, between resume writing and e-mails, I'm keeping myself busy with house chores, reading, and a bit of exercise.