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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fantastic weekend!

Although every day feels a little bit like the weekend right now, I can still enjoy a festive weekend with everyone else. Since Brendan was working Monday (he gets American holidays off, not Canadian), it wasn't a long weekend, but Saturday and Sunday were spent away from the computer, the job listings, the research and reading that typically fill my sabbatical days. This week, I will not invest much on the job-search front as I am leaving Friday for ten days in London and Paris. I won't be available for interviews during that time, nor will I be answering my phone. Not calling back a potential employer is a sure way of sending a resume at the very bottom of the pile.

So, weekend update. Brendan's mom and her boyfriend Glen were visiting from Toronto and arrived Friday night, fairly late. This wasn't the first meeting with the family, as we had visiting them in Ontario in the Spring.

On Saturday, much to our surprise, we woke up to a sunny morning and decided it would be unfair to spend the day inside. Our first little outside trip after lunch was a walk to Westmount, where we needed to make a pit stop at Bureau en gros. We walked a bit further to check out the Westmount Library Greenhouse. Now, I recently purchased a new camera, a Nikon D3000. This Nikon model is not a high-end camera, but a good basic camera for someone who wants to get serious about the pictures they take. That would be me. So obviously, I brought the camera along and took lots of macro shots of flowers. You can see a few shots here. Note that some of the pictures are from a previous trip (back when wearing a t-shirt outside was still an option, remember the good old days?).

Later in the afternoon, we took the car and drove to Mount Royal to admire the changing of colours currently happening across the city. There were very little clouds in the sky and we were hoping to catch a breathtaking view of the city from the belvedere Kondiaronk, the large terrace viewpoint from which you can see most of the city.

We were not disappointed. I took a few shots and posted them here. The belvedere was invaded by tourists, but also by many montrealers who were clearly enjoying their mountain. I hadn't been on the mountain for such a long time, it was very pleasant to reconnect with this place where I spent many weekends of my childhood crosscountry skiing.

We returned home to prepare dinner: tandori chicken from Akhavan, rice and peas. It was warm enough to fire up the BBQ, something I think we will dearly miss during the winter. I don't think we plan to use the BBQ during the cold season, it would require shoveling a path all the way to the end of the deck, where it sits now. We thought of bringing it close to the house, but it would probably not be as safe.

We then took the metro to the Notre-Dame Basilica, where we caught a show called "And then there was light" that narrated the history of the famous church. The show was very entertaining and well designed, with an ending that reveals the true beauty of the interior using coloured lights and majestic music. I really enjoyed it. At the end of the show, visitors are encouraged to spend 15 minutes walking around the church to admire the workmanship and detail in the decoration of the inside structure.

We all slept like babies after a day spent in the fresh air.

Sunday, well, as expected, was all about the turkey. However, we did manage a quick trip in the morning to visit Brendan's cousin Benoît on the south shore (Iberville). Benoît and his wife prepared a kick-ass breakfast and we spent most of our time there talking about their new baby, an eight-month old Chesapeake Bay Retriever called Virgule. Boy the energy on that dog!!

The turkey dinner was prepared by Brendan, with a bit of my help. It was all together delicious, even if the turkey had to make a return trip to the oven. It was probably not all thawed when we started cooking it and the meat thermometre we were using, equipped with a wire that connects to a digital reader outside of the over, probably left a small crack in the oven door's seal which meant that one side was not as cooked as the other. Live and learn. Now we have lots of leftovers for sandwiches and I made a turkey soup with the carcass last night. Yum!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Sorry if I disappeared, but I have been busy reflecting, networking and researching, a time during which I did not feel too inspired to write.

Today, however, I am sharing two lists I prepared based on a little exercise given to me by Brendan. I have to admit, my discovery and job-hunting processes have not been very organized and this exercise will hopefully help me focus my activities and energy over the next few months.

10 things I want (in no particular order)
  1. A job where I can make a difference, where my contribution matters.
  2. To spend more time with my friends.
  3. A better camera so I can develop my photography skills.
  4. To feel energized and in shape.
  5. To write a book (or many!).
  6. To influence others on changing their habits and protecting the environment.
  7. To learn how to meditate and calm my mind.
  8. To feel more positive.
  9. A dog.
  10. To travel.

20 things I am grateful for (again, in no particular order)

  1. My healthy and supportive family.
  2. My boyfriend who makes me laugh and tries to understand me.
  3. My beautiful home that feels inviting and warm.
  4. The clean water I can drink from the tap.
  5. The delicious food I can prepare or that is prepared for me.
  6. Books that open my mind.
  7. My close friends.
  8. Affordable education (especially in Quebec).
  9. My health.
  10. The chalet and being able to be close to nature.
  11. The Internet and being able to stay in touch with my friends from Vancouver.
  12. My neighborhood.
  13. Being able to afford taking a break from work to think.
  14. Great co-workers in many of my past jobs.
  15. Feeling safe in the city where I live.
  16. Public transit taking me pretty much everywhere I need to go.
  17. Being able to speak two languages.
  18. Not being punished or diminished for being a woman.
  19. Having learned how to manage money early in life.
  20. Being Canadian.
  21. Nutella! (LOL, Brendan said this one didn't count)

What is interesting about these lists is what I can do to address my wants, while always keeping in mind the things that I already have.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

He was such a good boy

Finnigan died this morning. It was indeed the parvovirus.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hang in there, Fin!

A short post as I am expecting my friend Sarah who is visiting from Vancouver, but I had to give you good and bad news. The good news (great news!!) is that Brendan and I have adopted a puppy from the SPCA. Finnigan is a one-year old Otterhound mix (possibly with an Airedale) who was a stray and was brought to the SPCA in late August. We saw him for the first time on Saturday and returned on Sunday to complete the paperwork. You can see a couple of pictures we took while on a walk with him here and here.

The bad news is that he is sick. Fin might have parvovirus, an infectious disease that affects puppies, causes vomiting and bloody diarrhea, and can be deadly. Fin was neutered on Monday (standard procedure when you adopt at the SPCA) and this morning, I got a call from the clinic to let me know that they were going to keep him under observation because he wasn't well. I was supposed to pick him up today, so this was a terribly sad news, but I was happy to hear that he was being monitored closely by a veterinarian.

Tonight, the clinic called me again to tell me that they suspected he might have parvo, and have started an aggressive treatment. They couldn't start it earlier because he was recovering from the surgery. If the test for the virus comes back positive, he will be fed intravenously and be treated with proper medication.

He is probably staying at the clinic until the weekend, possibly longer. I guess we'll know a bit more tomorrow.

Hang in there puppy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm gonna make it to the Y-M-C-A!

My bum is sore. (Isn't that the best first sentence to a blog post?)

Yesterday, I reactivated my membership to the Y (it was on hold for the summer months) and had a session with a personal trainer who prepared me a program for the gym. The program is short, six exercises in all, but each one works out multiple muscles at once, making this workout very efficient. For example, instead of lying down on a bench and using dumbells to work out chest muscles, I am hovering above the ground, shoulders and neck resting on an exercise ball, legs and abs balancing my body and keeping my butt off the ground, while I use the dumbells to work out chest muscles. The exercises have incredibly long names that reflect their complexity like "one arm dumbell row box position isolated hip extension".

Today, I feel the impact of my new workout. Oy.

What I really like about having a membership at the Y is that I can visit any Y in Montreal for classes, gym access, pool access, etc. Actually, I believe my card gives me access to any Y in North America. The Y closest to home is the NDG Y, but I could also visit the Westmount Y that has a great pool, or visit the Parc Avenue Y to train with Lara. I like the downtown Y because it has a huge gym.

Monday, August 31, 2009


What is the one question that people who first meet you are likely to ask? "What do you do?" would be my guess and starting today, well... I'm not "doing" anything. I was chatting with a friend on Friday and was telling her that I was now unemployed and she thought that didn't sound very good. "Call it a sabbatical" she recommended. Sure. A sabbatical sounds good.

Except that I am not taking a year off, and do not have the objective of traveling the world or writing a book (although one day, I might write a book, I just haven't found the topic yet). I'm taking some time off to figure out what I'm going to do next. Maybe I should call it an extended spa day for my career, after which I hope to feel rejuvenated and ready to embark on a great adventure.

This week is however a bit different. I'm on vacation this week. I'm not thinking career plans, not spending lots of time researching and networking, I'm resting. I needed a vacation, haven't taken any time off since April and that includes Victoria Day, Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Canada Day. I think I took a day in replacement of one of the three holidays to move. Or pack. Not really to rest. The move has also been really exhausting, mentally and physically. Thank goodness I had some help, because I came pretty close to suffering from boxeritis, where the sight of an unpacked box is giving you nausea.

I have a few modest plans for the week. I reactivated my membership at the Y and have an appointment with a trainer on Thursday to get a program. I have a 5 à 7 with colleagues to celebrate (?) my departure. Everyone was on vacation last week. I am meeting with a lady from FEM International where I will be volunteering a few hours of my time in the next few months. On Wednesday, I will help mom and dad prepare Annie's apartment, so she at least has a bed to sleep in when she arrives Friday. And I have meals to cook. I promised Brendan that I would cook dinner more often, because he gets home so late from work and if nothing is ready, we end up eating dinner really late.

Nothing ambitious, just enough stuff to keep me busy, but also give me enough time to read, go for walks (maybe to the library to get a card so I can start borrowing more reading material), and prepare for week 1 of my sabbatical.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gutsy move? Only time will tell...

This week is my last at work. On August 13, I told my boss that I was leaving, and I told him why. It wasn't that I didn't like the team, or the challenges, or the company. It's the type of work we do that I don't like and unfortunately, that's really hard to change unless you move on to another position in another company. I don't have another position in mind yet, even less another company, but I knew it was time to leave. So I did.

Don't get me wrong. I work with good people. But I also work with workaholics. Nothing wrong with being a dedicated worker if you are passionate about what you are doing. I wasn't. There is no half measure in my line of work, you either love it, or you don't. I didn't. I didn't like that we did all this research, thinking, analyzing, interviewing, and reporting only to leave at what I consider the most critical time: execution. I realized that I am an action-oriented woman. Give me a task, and I'll get it done. When my task is to make recommendations that I will never see being implemented (because we leave the client with this part of the task), I feel very detached from my work. It's too abstract, too theoretical.

I also didn't like the short-term relationships we developed with clients. Part of helping a team or a company realize something is to understand their culture and the rich web of relationships that exist between people. When you work with a clients for a few months, and most of the time from a distance, you cannot understand culture. Or maybe others can, but not me. I'd like to have a more personal relationship with the people I work with, be it clients or coworkers. But that wasn't possible in my line of work.

There were other reasons for deciding to leave, but these were the main ones. And one week before my last day, I feel that more than ever, I've made the right decision. I also took the time to sit down with each of my colleagues to explain to them why I was leaving. I work with smart, exceptional folks and I don't want to leave in bad terms, with lots of questions hanging about my motives.

Today, I updated my status in Facebook to let friends and family know what I had decided to do. I was really surprised by the show of support and the well-wishing tone of the comments overall. Not that I doubt the support of my friends, but at the same time I was wondering if anyone would ask why, wonder about my sanity for doing this. Nobody did.

Last week. Doesn't feel different. It will next Monday...

Monday, August 17, 2009

The pug is driving the car

I really love this weather. Although it has made unpacking a little slower than expected, I will not complain about the sun and heat. Not after the summer we've had so far.

We’re already nicely settled in, key areas unpacked and operational (kitchen, bathroom and closet), and we're now focusing on clearing out the remaining boxes before the weekend. Brendan’s grandparents are visiting from Sudbury, our first house guests!

Yesterday, after spending the morning unpacking, we decided to have brunch at the Orford Café, a small restaurant on Sherbrooke street not far from where we live. We’d been there once and the food was great, albeit a bit expensive. We sat outside, right at the corner of Orford and Sherbrooke, and ordered our meals. While we were waiting, we noticed a car slowing down on Sherbrooke, down to a halt before it crawled onto Orford at a snail’s pace. We check out the driver only to realize that it was a man in his 50’s with a fidgety pug standing on his lap. Speaking of things that will distract you from the road… I’m surprised the guy wasn't also speaking on his cell.

The car drives around a second time and the driver parks it right next to us. He gets out, along with a slender blond woman, and proceeds to get a table in a shaded area on the patio. That’s when we realized that they had left the engine running, with the AC on, with the front-seat window cracked open an inch, I’m assuming so the dog did not feel too locked in and stressed.

They left the car idling… Both Brendan and I are dumbfounded, even folks sitting next to us are staring back at the car, slightly amused and in disbelief.

We get our meal and start eating, still under shock, when we realized that we are starting to smell the car exhaust. On days where the city air is thick with smog, this idling engine is simply outrageous. I place my utensils on my plate, stand up, straighten up my dress and walk over to the table where the couple is now enjoying their coffee.

“Excuse me”, I say “you've left your car idling and we’re sitting at the table right next to it, we can smell the exhaust.” The first response the guy gives me? “Why don’t you change table?”

I see. The comfort of your dog not only beats any concern for the environment, but also the comfort of the people around you. I guess this is not one person I would win over with arguments of air pollution.

“We already started eating, and we don’t really want to move” was my next comment. He then looked around, annoyed, and pointed out to the busy Sherbrooke segment in front of the restaurant to show me that there were no other parking spaces available. There was a space a few buildings away, but he wanted to keep the car close so the dog could see them.

Oh brother.

“Why don’t you take the dog with you instead?”, I asked. After all, we’re sitting literally on the street and I've seen others have breakfast with a dog lying down at their feet. The man asks the waitress if he was allowed and she reassured him that it wasn't a problem at all.

“Yeah, I guess I can do that. Yeah, see that’s a good solution.”

I thanked him and walked back to my table. As I sat down, Brendan gave me an inquisitive look as if asking “how did you do that?” Well, no reasonable argument was going to convince this person to turn off his car engine. No argument other than the comfort of his precious fur child. I was happy of the outcome, that’s for sure, even if the reason for the change in behavior seemed completely wrong. I smiled as I saw the dog twitching on his owner’s lap as the man was trying to eat his eggs.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

At least I don't have to water the tomato plants

I can't believe it's raining again.

Still alive, but so busy with packing, unpacking and cleaning that I can only think of a good night's sleep when I'm done with my chores. Fortunately, I have been sleeping like a baby as we have purchased a new mattress for the duplex (incredible comfort), our neighbourhood is really quiet in the evening and the new home doesn't get as hot and humid as the apartment on Saint-Antoine (thanks to all the lovely trees). We don't even sleep in the apartment anymore, we make the trip every night to NDG to catch a snooze.

Now if only I could figure out how to keep the squirrels out of the plants (they haven't touched the tomatoes yet, but I'm not holding my breath). One of the pepper plants dad gave me had a tiny green pepper growing on it. It lasted two days. Damn furry rats. We're debating about purchasing a Super Soaker, but maybe a watering device attached to a motion detector would be more dissuasive. If we want to build a garden next year, it will probably have to be enclosed like the one my parents have up north.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Papers are signed, I have more keys than I know what to do with, and I am, as of today, legally responsible for a really nice duplex in NDG. Woot! I can't wait to move in. Now if I can just get all the paperwork from the Vancouver sale and the all the money transactions to be completed, I will be one happy and blessed woman. Can't say this transaction was difficult or complicated, especially when I was surrounded by very competent folks. My real estate agents rock, my notary rocks, and even my banker rocks!

Now I just have to invest in a filing cabinet to store all the paperwork I've been accumulating for the past few months.

One piece of paper that I am not looking forward to receiving is the invoice from the city of Montreal for the privilege of buying a property. Montreal charges a "welcome tax" to home owners, and apparently not just first-time buyers. Every time you buy a property in town you pay this tax. My bills will be around $4,275, not cheap. I was curious to find out how this tax was used by the city, because honestly, Montreal also charges you also quite a bit of money every year for municipal taxes. A quick search of the city's web site returned nothing. I then turned to my trusted Google. And I found this really interesting description on the web site for the city of Hampstead:

The phrase "welcome tax" has a history which came about for reasons other than a "greeting" tax for new residents. In short, in 1976 a new method of municipal financing was proposed by a judge named Jean Bienvenue and, when adopted, became known as "la taxe de Bienvenue". Because "bienvenue" translates to "welcome" in English, the tax became known as the "welcome tax".

Interesting. But what exactly does this new method of financing finance? That I could not find, only that this tax will need to be paid within the next 60 days.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Holy storm batman!

We will have no shortage of water in Montreal this summer. It's not as if anyone would care to water their lawn or garden anyways, we seem to get rain every day. I was testing my yoga legs when it started (and failing miserably) and an hour later it is still pouring outside, and windy, with the occasional thunder and lightening.

I was really looking forward to my first summer back in Montreal, but so far, have not spent much time enjoying any kind of sun or fresh air. I did get to visit the chalet on two occasions, have made it to the Jazz Festival once, and just the other night went to see a live comedy show at Zoo Fest (poor man's Just for Laugh), obviously set indoors. But no lazy Sunday afternoon at Picnik Electronic (we walked home in the rain after stepping out for groceries today), not many drinks with friends on terraces, no Old Port, biking around town, etc.

I guess you can't win them all. Hopefully August is nice and September, spectacular!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Little boxes, on the hillside...

Little boxes everywhere in the apartment that is. Yikes! I know it might seem a bit early to start packing, but there is a lot to pack and nothing is going to happen during the week. So early packing it is. Books are packed, so are the DVDs, CDs, some of the dishes, decorative stuff... Today, I am going through my clothes and sorting out what I want to keep and what will end up in the Salvation Army bins at the corner of Guy and Saint-Antoine, joining the shoes and booties that I already dropped off on Monday. There will not be much to give out I'm afraid, I already went though this exercise less than a year ago when I left Vancouver.

Slowly but surely, things are sorting themselves out. I visit the notary on Wednesday to sign all the paperwork that will confirm my ownership of the duplex. That means that next weekend, Brendan and I are already busy prepping the place (a bit of painting and cleaning) before moving in. His stuff is in storage at U-Haul, we'll take care of getting all his things back next Sunday. My stuff is partly in Montreal (moving date is August 14) and part in Vancouver, being picked up as I write this. No idea when the things from Vancouver will make it in town, my guess is around the 8th. At least, that is what I am hoping. Then, we also need to coordinate deliveries, a mattress and bedspring from The Bay, appliances from Sears for the unit upstairs (Annie gets brand new kitchen appliances!!), and possibly a sofa and dining room chairs from Structube.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a nice sofa that does not cost $2,000? Let me tell you about that. We initially started by visiting IKEA, thinking maybe one of their models would suit us and not break the bank. Well, unless you really like the style of their Ektorp line (I already have a two-place Ektorp sofa bed), IKEA has nothing to offer. Most sofas other than the 100 variations on Ektorp are leather or really square. Not my thing. We then visited another few places, Mobilia on Maisonneuve (so, so), The Bay (expensive) and had a look at what Sears had to offer when we went shopping for appliances (ugly). Finally, last night, as we were walking back from work (Brendan was shopping downtown and came to pick me up), we stopped by a tiny Structube store on Sainte-Catherine. Not a huge selection, but it did include a nice, dark brown, three-seater and very comfortable sofa. For less than $1,000. Score! We also liked the style of one of their dining room chairs. I have a dining room set, it's pretty modern and right now Marc has it at his place (and offered to buy it). I have an old, oval table from my parents (it's a loan) that can easily sit 8 and will be perfect for the dining room. I just needed proper chairs.

Brendan is planning to buy a flat-screen TV in the fall, so our place is really going to start looking quite sharp.

We just have to get there first.

Little boxes...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thank goodness for fans

It's hot tonight, really hot. We had a formidable storm around 7 p.m., with hail and a heavy downpour. Somehow, it didn't clear all the mugginess that's been accumulating all day. The heat makes me sleepy, I'm think I'm gonna head to bed early for a change.

I'm thinking about a lot of things lately. Coordinating two moves (stuff from Vancouver coming back to Montreal and stuff in Montreal moving to the new place), changing my address all over the place, but also I've been wondering how come I haven't been spending much time with friends. We're all pretty busy, that's understandable, but I think there's more to it than packed schedules. I cannot speak for my friends, but I do know that I've been feeling rather tired these days. I think work has a lot to do with it.

I haven't been terribly happy with work, I'm realising that maybe consulting is not really my cup of tea. There are things I work on that really interest me, but the entire context under which the work is undertaken does not appeal to me. Consulting is a lot of politics and really more a sales job than I thought it would be. Fortunately, at my level, we do not have sales targets, but as I look at the career path that awaits me if I do well and one day get promoted, and it's all about selling. I'm not a sales person. My brother is a natural at sales, but I'm not. Well, I can get people interested in something, and I have managed to raise quite a bit of money for breast cancer over the past few years, but it's just not the same.

I'm thinking that I might start looking around at what else is available. It's the summer now, not a good time to look for work, but come September, kids will go back to school and business will return to normal.

I'm a bit sadden that I feel this way about my new job, but at the same time, when your heart is not there, it's really hard to get through the day. And right now, I'm working on a really stressful project while trying to wrap up two others, so it doesn't help. I end up working nights, evenings and weekends.

Maybe I'll even take a break in September. With a bit of money coming in from the sale of the condo, I might be able to manage a few weeks off. Since Christmas, I have only taken a week off to visit Vancouver and half of that week was spent taking care of unfinished renos and other errands to get the condo on the market.

Now, quick shower before going to bed and I'm sleeping with the fan on tonight. So happy my apartment has a ceiling fan in the bedroom, woot!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finally summer?

Happy Sunday and happy father's day everyone. Hope you are enjoying a day of rest with your loved ones.

Last night, I had dinner at my brother's with Brendan, Annie (who was visiting for a few days) and Philippe. It was really nice to sit outside, enjoy appies and white wine, and catch up with siblings. We talked about work, living arrangements (both sales are final, only waiting for the visit to the notary in late July) as Annie is renting the top floor of the duplex and wanted to know what the place was like. After dinner, we walked over to my brother's neighours place to watch the fireworks. Now that is an activity that makes it feel like it's finally summer. I love watching fireworks. We couldn't see all of them, our view was blocked by a building, but enough to make it magic and enjoyable.

According to the weather forecast, we are heading towards some really nice and warm days. Could it be that the summer is finally here? The Montreal Jazz Festival is only a few weeks away, I can't wait to go listen to a few free outdoors show. Moving back to Montreal means that I get to enjoy all this summer activity. So far, I can't say that I have spent much time outside, work is keeping me really busy and the weather wasn't always cooperating. Hopefully the tide is turning.

I will probably have to work Wednesday, even though it's Saint-Jean-Baptiste. I have a deadline at the end of the month and there is still a lot of work to complete until then. What I am hoping is that I can take July 1-3 off instead (I also worked Victoria Day, so that would be two days I can get in lieu of) and make it an extra long weekend at the chalet. Work on the second chalet has begun, and I can't wait to get into work boots, grab a hammer and built stuff. My father is building a green chalet next to our existing chalet. This second chalet will be completely off the grid (like the first one) but will also use a "puit canadien" (geothermal system) to help cool / warm the place, and solar panels for electricity, obviously. I'm excited to be able to help build this place. It will be a nice change of pace from the long days spent in front of the computer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Barely enough energy to come up with a post

Here it is anyways. You've been warned.

I am so happy tomorrow is Friday (and Brendan's birthday). My life since last Thursday has been a roller coaster of events and I can wait to get off the ride. Fortunately, it all happened so quickly that I didn't have time to think about it and get too discouraged.

First things first. Last Thursday, I checked my Hotmail in the morning and saw that I had received the link for a new listing. My agent, also the brother of my good friend James, set me up with an account in his version of MLS, the same system that agents use. I receive the new listings at the same time he gets them. I get to look through them and if something interests me, I just let him know. I really like the concept. Well, that morning, there was a nice duplex in NDG and I immediately e-mailed my agent to ask him to set up an appointment.

We got an appointment for 6, the same evening that three lines of the metro were shut down because of a bomb scare at Berri station. The orange line was still running, but very, very slowly and at Bonaventure station, which is where I get on from work, the metro going West was on the opposite side of the tracks from where it normally is. Add confusion about the situation and voilà, massive delays to be had. Fortunately, I was only 15 minutes late.

The visit itself did not last very long, I knew right from the beginning that I really liked the place. Standing in the front of the building, I asked my agent to make an offer. Brendan and I hung out in NDG and had dinner at La Louisiane (Cajun cooking, the etouffee sauce was NOT my favourite) and met Alex at his office on Monkland to sign the contract. We offered $10,000 less than asking price, a reasonable offer but also an amount close enough to show that we were serious. Now we simply had to wait for the reply from the seller.

When I arrived home, I had a message on my cell phone (no service in the metro, I had missed the call). It was my realtor in Vancouver letting me know that I had an offer on the condo. What an amazing coincidence!! The offer was $10,000 less than asking price (I sense a pattern here) and we countered at $5,000 less than asking. Not only was I waiting for the seller of the duplex in NDG to get back to me, now I was also waiting to hear back from the buyer in Vancouver.

Friday was when everything happened. My offer was countered at $5,000 less than asking, and my counteroffer in Vancouver was accepted. Same day. Obviously, pending the usual conditions, but you have to admit that the timing was perfect.

This week was about going through the motions to get both contracts finalized and closed. Alex recommended a wonderful inspector for the duplex. He did an amazing job, spent over two hours inspecting everything and really taking the time to explain everything to me. We even climbed on the roof, inspected every corner of the basement and got a crash course on electrical boxes and oil furnaces. Now I'm waiting for his final report, which should show up in my Inbox any time now. The condo in Vancouver was inspected this morning, and I am hoping to hear back from my realtor soon. Today was also the day I sent all the paperwork to my bank so they could clear all the mortgage details.

By June 8 or 9, everything should be finalized. Fingers crossed.

The duplex is really nice, it has two 5 1/2 apartments, the ground floor kitchen and bathroom were recently renovated, new windows were installed about 8 or 9 years ago, the place has a very large backyard (well, by Montreal standards) and according to the inspector, it's in a good shape. It's located below Sherbrooke, only a few minutes walk from Vendôme metro and steps from a large park, Esposito, Rocky Mountain fruit & veggies and lots of little restaurants and shops.

While all this real estate business was going on, I was also preparing for my PMP exam on Wednesday. I had been studying for the exam on and off for about two months and was not entirely sure I was ready. Well, I did pass the exam and can now add this credential to my resume. I'm happy it's over and that now, I have my evenings and weekends back.

Only a few more days, and then I can stop worrying about real estate and start worrying about moving ;)

Monday, May 25, 2009

I take pictures of flowers

And I'm having a grand time doing it, even if the mosquitoes and black flies were swarming me like crazy every time I stopped to take a picture.

I'm building a folder with all my wildflower pictures in Flickr.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shame on us!

"Canada has one of the fastest growth rates of greenhouse gases in the world, and a record that is far worse than in the United States." Click here to read the full article.

Shameful, really. Also not surprising, given our economy's reliance on resources (mining is not known for being an environmentally-friendly business) and the environmental nightmare that is the extraction of oil from the tar sands.

I also think that Canadian consumers could do their part, generate less waste and buy less stuff that they don't really need. I would say that, on average, most folks out in Vancouver were far more careful about their consumption habits than the folks in Montreal. I have no stats to prove this, I'm just going with my gut feeling. Often, when I warn the person at the cash that I won't be taking a plastic bag, I get an odd look, something that looks a bit like confusion. I feel they are wondering "how is she going to carry her purchase", even as I am unfolding my reusable bag. The Starbucks in Montreal also don't deal well with people bringing their own mug. Mine always ends up being filled to the rim, which is not OK when you have to screw the top back on. And I continue to be shocked by the amount of garbage people leave on the street. In the spring, it's really gross to see what the snow has been hiding. The city goes around with street cleaners and eventually turns our wonderful metropolis into something that is less of an eyesore, but I still wonder: why was it so hard to throw the stuff in a garbage in the first place? Couldn't find a garbage when you needed one? Although I don't fall for this excuse, as there are garbage cans all over the city, then why not simply keep the stuff in your pockets and throw it at home?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

To cleanse or not to cleanse

I came across this article on CBC while having lunch and it really reflected my point of view on cleansing, colonics and other methods of ridding your body of toxins. I have a many friends in Vancouver who have attempted cleanses and a few who even will go through elaborate programs once or twice a year to "clean" their bodies. Personally, I just don't buy it.

The human body was created to self regulate and while we are probably today exposed to more toxins than our ancestors were, we still have livers and kidneys to filter out the damaging substances we ingest over time. I'm not naive to the point of believing that our bodies are able to get rid of everything bad they come across, as studies conducted recently have reveled that our bodies tend to store some toxic chemicals such phthalates, mercury and bisphenol A (remember your old Nalgene bottle?). However, I don't think a cleanse will help the body get rid of those chemicals.

Friends who tried cleanses told me that they felt great afterwards, that their skin was glowing and that they lost a bit of weight. Well, since most cleanses involve changing your diet to cut out alcohol, red meat, coffee, processed foods and white sugar, I'm not surprised by the results. If you go back to eating and drinking all that stuff after the cleanse, was there really a point? I did a little personal experiment and cut alcohol completely from my diet for a month (ending May 22). Honestly, I don't see a difference, maybe a small increase in the amount of water I drink (instead of wine) which is obviously healthy. And then there are all these cleanse products you can purchase at health food stores (expensive products), necessary, according to the vendors, because of the vitamins and minerals you will need during the cleanse as you cut out so many different types of food. That's kind of a given no? I read about the Master Cleanse, lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper drinks as your sole intake for days. No kidding you'd lose weight on that one. On the other hand, that same recipe (replace the maple syrup with honey) as a warm drink is wonderful to help you sleep when you're sick (home-made Neo Citran). But would you do a Neo Citran diet and call that healthy? I didn't think so.

As for the colonics, there are medical arguments against them in healthy people, so my position there is a resounding "no way". To quote a nicely referenced article in Wikipedia: "The benefits anecdotally attributed to colon cleansing are vague and the claims made by manufacturers and practitioners, in addition to being based on a flawed understanding of the body, have never been scientifically validated."

It goes back to the basics. Eating healthy, nutritious and fresh food that you prepare yourself (as much as possible), sleeping well, exercising every day (even if it's just to walk to work) and going easy on the alcohol and the coffee. To that I would also add eating local, because local food is also better for the environment and, in many cases, fresher and more nutritious.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rainy Sunday

Perfect! I love rainy Sundays!! Before you give me the evil eye, let me explain. I needed a little help getting motivated to do stuff around the apartment, catch up on laundry, write a few things on my blog and clock in several hours of studying for my PMP exam. If it was beautiful and sunny outside, there's no way I wouldn't take advantage of the nice weather and stay indoors. Since I spent a bit of time outdoors yesterday at the cabin (walking in the woods in the rain - great opportunity to use my froggy gumboots), my motivation to handle all the boring items I'd like to deal with before the week starts is very high.

I changed the template for the blog, after receiving a comment about the pastel polkadots. I had to agree, not because the pastel polkadots didn't represent my fiery impression of Montreal but mainly because that template was a bit bland. At least this one has colours, bright greens and orange. Much more fitting.

I also added a few new links to interesting sites about sustainability and an RSS feed from a blog on recycling not your typical green-bin items, but mostly on how to reuse old items instead of discarding them. I'm getting back into reading and following more closely sustainability and environment-related events in and out of town. I never really stopped trying to live a sustainable lifestlyle by making conscious decisions about what I buy and where I buy it; however, I'll start sharing my discoveries again, as I did when I was living in Vancouver.

Oh, and happy mother's day to all mums out there (and to mine who stayed at the cabin for the weekend with dad).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vancouver is so pretty in the spring

Very difficult not to like this city when the flowers are in bloom everywhere, the weather is mild (ish) and you get a few days of bright sun. While the past few days have been all about lunches, dinners and drinks with friends, the next few days will be all about putting the finishing touches on the condo before it goes up for sale. I was really happy with the outcome of the upgrades done so far (hardwood floors on the stairs and top floor, new counter in the kitchen) and once the tiles are done in a few weeks, the place will look stunning.

Since I arrived on Wednesday, I was asked several times if I missed Vancouver. Well, I do miss the beautiful sights and I really miss my friends, but other than that, I can't say I do. I find the city quiet, too polite and proper. I'm not saying I want to live in chaos, but a little passion and excess does inject your life with bright colours, intriguing smells and beautiful sounds. If the cities were colours, I'd pick grey for Vancouver and bright red for Montreal. Water and fire. Being a Leo, my sign is that of fire, maybe there's a reason why my subconscious was always attracted by the passionate fire of my home town.

The other question I was asked is whether or not I regretted the time spent in Vancouver. The answer is a big "no". I really enjoyed my time here and made the most of it by taking up several new sports, spending weekends in nature, traveling up and down the West Coast (all the way down to San Francisco), visiting restaurants around the city, traveling East to the wonderful Okanagan region, and many, many other experiences that will stay with me forever as incredible souvenirs. But, there does come a time when you are simply ready for something different. I was ready to return to my roots.

I promise to not spend the next 72 hours indoors, fixing and adjusting things. If it's nice one afternoon, I will visit the Van Dusen garden, it will be quiet and hopefully the rhododendrons will have started blooming. Maybe I'll even bring my book and read a bit in the garden. So lovely. On Tuesday, Annie and I will enjoy cured meat, cheese, and wine pairings at Salt, hopefully with Sarah.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

That's why there are three Rs...

Interesting article on CBC about challenges faced by recyclers around the country. Help them go through this difficult period by exercising the other two Rs: reuse and reduce. I know I will.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring means new beginnings

I love spring. The days are longer, some brave flowers are colouring the brown lawns with hints of green, people are out walking, and I feel that I have more energy. Now, I do miss spring in Vancouver, at this time of the year, lots of trees and shrubs are already blooming, especially around the area where I used to live.

This week, I'm heading to Vancouver, ready to turn the page on that chapter of my life. Not that I won't go back to keep in touch with friends, but I really feel like I'm ready to embed myself in Montreal again. I am selling the condo, my trip back West is mainly to finish preparing the place to be sold and have a frank discussion with my realtor about pricing. It's a big step, because I love that condo, but I am sure that I can find a place I'll love just as much in Montreal. I can't wait to go for long walks around various neighbourhoods to check out places. I find that's the best way to discover whether or not you'd like to live somewhere. You listen to the noise, check out the businesses in the area (especially important if you have no car), get a feel for the type of people living on the street.

At this point, because of the economy, I don't know how quickly I will be able to sell, but a few hours after changing my status in Facebook to let people know that I'm selling, I already have a few questions. It could happen really fast. Now, I just need to get the tiles finished in the bathroom and kitchen, install the handles on the kitchen cabinets, clean the windows, plant some flowers outside to give a bit of spring cheer to the balcony and hope that someone falls in love with the place, just like I did six years ago.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Turning point

Wow, welcome back. This is addressed to me. I don't know where I've been for the past three weeks. Not blogging, that's for sure!

Well, I have my fingers crossed (and all my toes) that today marked a turning point in my series of failed attempts at getting back into a moderately fit lifestyle. Since I moved to Montreal, it's been incredibly hard to do any exercise on a regular basis. First, there was all the traveling. I know, that's not necessarily an excuse, but the gym at the hotel where I was staying was lamentable. Then, there was the cold. My poor body was trying to adjust to the freezing weather and NOT motivated to step out unless I needed to work or feed myself. At one point, I actually made it to Allez Up, a climbing gym along the canal, to check out the facility and ask about their prices. I wasn't fond of the area where the gym was located, but there was a bus that could take me there. Unfortunately, I hurt my wrist and you kind of need two hands to climb. Finally, last week, I visited the YMCA downtown and signed up on the spot for a year. I like the facility, it's enormous, has a large gym, a pool, lots of classes... Two days later, my gym bag waiting for me by the door, I catch a nasty cold. Why, or why (she pleads with open hands, looking at the sky).

I am determined to make today a turning point. I walked to work, something I intend to do a lot more. I don't even plan to buy a bus pass in April. At 6:30 a.m., it was still dark(ish), a bit cold and windy, but I was bundled up and ready to hit the elliptical machine. I did a light workout, mainly cardio, stretching and abs. No need getting sick again. I was showered, dressed, and on my way to work by 8:20, in the office before the rest of my colleagues who usually trickle in after 9. Very cool.

In the morning, the downtown Y is great, busy but not packed and the crowd is older. The afternoon I signed up, I visited the gym and was a bit turned off by the packed gym area. The gentleman giving me the tour said to avoid the place between 5-8 p.m. because it was always super busy. Duly noted. I am going to try the spinning classes early morning a few times per week, maybe even get a programme started (the membership allows you to get an appointment with an instructor for the gym every six weeks, for free!).

I feel better.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's with all the blood stories?

Squeamish readers have been warned.

I hurt my hand Wednesday night. It was a bizarre accident, I tell the story to people and they look at me funny, didn't help that I had a bandage around my wrist that made it look like I tried to off myself. Worry not my friends, I love life too much to purposefully hurt myself.

However, I'm a klutz. Here I was, preparing dinner after a long day at work, and while the eggs were almost ready in the frying pan, I reached in my cupboard to get a plate. What I didn't see was that there was another, smaller plate at the top of the pile, and when I pulled my intended dish, the other one slipped, heading straight for the counter.

At that point, boys and girls, the safe behaviour in a kitchen is to step away from the pending accident and let the plate smash on the counter. My reaction was not quite smart, as I tried reaching for the falling plate to catch it before it became mosaic material. Not a good idea. The plate broke in several pieces, and one large piece made contact with my left hand which, I am assuming, was in full swing towards the jagged ceramic.

It didn't take me long to realize that I had a cut at the junction between my hand and my wrist. I turned the cold water on and tried washing away the blood that was starting to pour out of the cut, but that made things worse. I barely had time to grab a scott towel to dab the blood before it became clear that this was going to bleed a lot.

I live alone. Two things immediately crossed my mind: one, stop the bleeding and two, if I feel faint and pass out, I'll have to deal with a lot more than a cut. So I headed for the bathroom, sat on the floor and pulled the emergency medical kit from the cabinet. Yes, I have a medical kit at home. Everyone should. Comes in handy.

I found sterile gauze pads and started applying them against the cut, lifting my hand over my head (higher than the heart). Both maneuvers intended to slow the bleeding. It kind of did, and for an hour or so, as I sat down in the living room and watched a movie, I continued applying pressure. Unfortunately, the bleeding didn't really stop, each time I changed the gauze it would start again. It only meant one thing: I needed stitches.

Now, put yourself in my shoes. It was about 9 p.m., I had no idea where to call to ask about the closest clinic (opened at this time of the night), couldn't remember the names of the hospitals in the area (it's been a while), so I called my parents. Yes, at 34, when I hurt myself, I still call mom and dad. I wanted to know where they recommend I go, so I could call a cab.

Well, at 24 (that's a typo but I'm leaving it in!), you're apparently not too old for your parents to take care of you. Dad offered to come and pick me up, then drive me to the hospital. "You pay for parking", he said. Deal! We drove to the Montreal General, found parking close to the emergency and then proceeded to embark on one of the longest nights I've had in a while.

We got to the hospital at 9:45 p.m., probably saw the triage nurse by 10:30 and then waited until 5:45 a.m. to see a doctor. Yes, I understand, my cut was not a life-threatening condition, so I was at the bottom of the priorities. Yes, I was told, the General, Montreal's trauma centre, only had one doctor on staff that night. What I don't understand is why I didn't have more options. Don't we have 24-hour clinics that can handle minor emergencies, hell, even private would have been fine with me? Didn't seem so, although now I'm curious enough to find out for next time.

Spending the night at the emergency, I found myself thinking about how lucky I was. My dad stayed with me (all night), kept me company, and for most of the night, we chatted about this and that. Some people were at the emergency alone. Also, I am so healthy compared to the people I saw in there, I should remember this and not take it for granted.

Here's a picture of the cut, four days later (the bruise is probably from the impact). The stitches come out Thursday.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I gave blood today and feel drained...

Ha ha! Been waiting to make that joke all day!

It has been over two years since my last blood donation. I went three or four times in Vancouver but didn't keep it up. Today, as I was walking back to the office after lunch, I noticed a mobile Hema-Québec clinic in the entrance of PVM. I stopped by the registration table and signed up on the spot for an appointment later that afternoon.

Back at work, I can honestly say that the reaction with colleagues is always predictable. It ranges from "you're doing what?" to slight discomfort to some even feeling slightly noxious as they think about the needle. Nobody jumped up and volunteered to join me. Oh well.

The process of donating blood is pretty much the same between the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec, so I knew the drill. I had eaten a good lunch, drank a large juice before going, but unfortunately, felt a bit dizzy after the half-way mark and wasn't able to complete my donation. The nurses know the drill, as soon as someone mentions that they are not feeling well they unplug you, lower your upper body, place a cold towel on your forehead and then monitor you until they feel you're good to go. I felt better almost immediately, I must have been a bit tired (didn't sleep too well last night) and my temperature was a bit high, so maybe I'm fighting something.

I plan on going back in 56 days, once whatever I donated is fully regenerated by my body. It was so convenient to have the clinic come to work!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Live somewhere else for a few years and then move back, you'll obviously notice differences (big and small) between your home town and adoptive city. I thought the irony of today's weather in Montreal would provide a perfect backdrop to a little discussion about moisture.

Winters in Vancouver are everything but dry. Anything you leave on a balcony (flower pots, BBQ, chairs) ends up as a breeding ground for moss as the city is drenched for weeks at the time in heavy rain. All your shoes end up leaking at one point or another, even your umbrella one day just gives up. But, to be fair, all this moisture in the air keeps the skin naturally soft and hydrated. I always used face moisturizer, but never bothered lathering up from toes to shoulders when I was living on the West Coast.

Let's talk about Montreal now. I can deal with the cold, love the sun and bright winter days, but why is it so dry? I knew something was wrong when my little home thermometer's moisture level indicator did not bother reading the air's water content. "Low" is what it said. My hair became limp and very unruly, all at once. Add a tuque to the equation and you then have to also deal with static. I started using a humidifier, but it's so much work to keep the damn thing clean and I think a spider has moved into mine. I feel I should leave it alone, it must be eating whatever bacteria is growing in the water left in the tank.

My bathroom counter is now host to a collection of moisturizers, body butters, scrubs, leave-in conditioners, baby oil, lip balm, and several other products that promise to keep me from madly scratching my otherwise dry, itchy skin. Fortunately, I have managed to stay away from scented moisturizers, because I would otherwise smell like a mix of strawberries, lavender, ylang-ylang and lemongrass, surely a combination that would keep any potential suitors at bay.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 1

Even though I've been working at the new job for four months now, today felt like the first day where I was doing what it is that we do (or are supposed to do). My first mandate in Halifax wasn't entirely a "typical" mandate and although it kept me busy and had me log a lot of billable hours, it shielded me from some of the regular activities undertaken by my team. How can I explain this... Imagine information as water. Imagine a hose, heavy pressure, wide diametre, being fed by ten or twenty sources. Imagine the pressure at the other end when you are responsible for receiving the rush of water and transforming it in a mist gentle enough (and at the right temperature) to spray a delicate orchid. Repeat daily.

That's how it felt.

The biggest problem when you join a firm in the knowledge industry is that there is a LOT of existing knowledge already developed and the biggest challenge is finding the right pieces to repurpose, reuse, or further develop, and as fast as possible.

To my colleagues, this must feel almost natural but to me, it's as if this was my very first day in the office. Maybe it is.

Tonight, however, I have to admit that I was happy to be home after work and to prepare myself a tasty dinner (I bought some groceries this weekend and cooked a bit). This morning, I loved being able to pick an outfit from my closet and then change my mind about it. Not something you can pull off when living out of a suitcase.

Hello Montreal. I'm happy to be spending some time with you for a little while.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Last night

Tonight is my last night in Halifax. My mandate ends tomorrow, I fly back home late afternoon (fingers crossed that the snow doesn't delay flights too much) and then will be staffed on a mandate in Montreal for a few months. As I sit on the bed at the hotel, finishing some odd tasks for work, with my nose itchy from the dry air, I'm also thinking about all the things I never had a chance to get started since I moved back. For instance, I miss climbing and I feel like I need to get back into a regular exercise program. I've been looking at the downtown YMCA schedule, the gym is close to work and has a pool. Swimming is a great exercise, it would feel great to do laps a few times per week.

I'm also feeling a bit of pressure about the climbing since my good friend Typhanie, who was away in Burkina Faso for 18 months, is moving to Montreal in March or April. Typhanie is an awesome climber, I look forward to have the opportunity to learn from her again. Obviously, it would help to rebuild the climbing muscles a bit before she arrives. I'll make it a point to visit Allez Up this weekend, a climbing gym in my area.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And... the saga continues

A little while ago I wrote about my experience dealing with the SAAQ (and not the fine people at the SAQ) to get my driver's license from BC exchanged for a license from Quebec. Well, it's January 20, I still don't have a license and because my temporary license expired yesterday, I'm not even allowed to rent a car this week. OK, I'm partly to blame for this little mishap, but why oh why is this entire process so painful?

When I arrived in Halifax yesterday (on time, woot!), I walked over to the car rental counter, and handed them my credit card and temporary license (a piece of paper that honestly doesn't look like anything official, I wouldn't even rent myself a car with this ID). The lady at the counter handed me back the license and said it was expired. What? Yes, in the right-hand corner of the paper was the expiry date (in French, because Quebec does not publish bilingual documents it seems): January 19. And since that was the only license I had, she said she couldn't rent me a car. However, if the fine people from the SAAQ were willing to fax her an updated paper, she'd be happy to give me a set of wheels.

So, sitting near the rental counter, my luggage, laptop and purse plopped on the seat next to me, I try calling the SAAQ. The 1-800 number I initially try refuses to let me through, as I am calling using my cell phone which uses the 514 area code and should be calling the 514 number instead. Since I'm not entirely sure how this will show up on my phone bill, I use my calling card instead and phone the 514 number. Lucky me, I'm only on hold for a few minutes.

I explain the situation to the lady on the phone and she sounds a bit stunned, then asks me to confirm my home address to make sure the license was mailing to the right place. That's when I look at the temporary license and notice the root cause of all my problems: 2848. My address is 2248, not 2848. You would figure that I would have noticed that, but it is a new address and the numbers never jumped at me for being wrong. It only took 30 minutes for the rep at the SAAQ to complete my file and type in a few pieces of data (and I do get my Hydro bill, so I'm sure the address it gave her was correct). But she got the numbers wrong. So my license was probably mailed on time, but it had no way of reaching me.

OK. I can deal with this situation later. How do I get an extension to my license so I can rent a car a make it to the client? Just so happens that I can't. They cannot issue another temporary permit, unless I show up at an SAAQ office in person to sign more paperwork. None of my pleading is getting through. If I was staying in Halifax for the next two months and needed a license, they could possibly mail a new one to me, but since I'm back in Montreal this weekend, they can't help me.

At this point, I'm slightly discouraged and ask if they can change my address and mail me the license again. Can't do. I need to go back to an SAAQ office, explain the situation, wait in line to get a new temporary license, get my picture taken and sign a few times for the process to start all over again. Oh goodie. But don't you think they would have my picture and signature on file, I was there on December 30. Nope. Pictures and signatures are erased from their system after ten days. Just perfect.

No choice then, I'm stuck all week in an industrial park without a car. I took a taxi from the airport ($58, tip included) but fortunately am getting lifts between the hotel and the client from another consultant who happens to be staying at the same place as me. Also good is the fact that 2848 doesn't exist, so I don't really have to worry about my license being misused by someone. It's probably on its way back to the SAAQ with the letters "undeliverable" stamped on the envelope.

I look forward to spending more time Friday morning in line at the SAAQ office to fix this little boo-boo. Word.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An angle?

Two posts in two days? I must be on a (mini-) roll ;)

I had an idea that I wanted to share. Part of my rediscovery of the lovely city of Montreal is also learning all about the talented people who surround me. I would like to share these discoveries with others, tell more people about the artists that I know and meet. I'll use this blog to write about Montreal talent. In a sense, this is very much in alignment with my interest in sustainability, because I plan to also support Montreal talent when I purchase clothes, jewelry, art, music, and so on.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Every day, as I go about my day, I think about interesting things I could write about in the blog. As soon as I return home (or to the hotel room), I draw a blank and the inspiration is gone. The fact that I'm often tired in the evening, especially when I'm traveling, probably doesn't help.

Maybe I need a system. A system to either capture these elusive ideas, or a system to shake the brain cobwebs in the evening and generate new ones. I really enjoy writing, I want to do it more often. My system should not involve anything heavy to carry around (like the agenda I got at work that is currently on my table in the kitchen), or any complicated steps.

Any suggestions?

I'm in Halifax again this week, and for the following two weeks, but after January, I believe I will be back in Montreal. Well, unless my next mandate is also out of town again. Everything is possible. I scored this week with the rented car, mine has heated seats and when it's cold outside and you are trying to warm up the vehicle, the seats are the first things to warm up. Love it!