I haven't posted much this week because it's been a little tumultuous. Can you have little tumults? Does that work? Montréal actually had a 5.5 tumult on the Richter scale this week... I feel very cheated as I didn't feel a thing.

In two days we're supposed to be moving house. We have a few things ready but no bed, mattress, couch or chairs. So if you like standing around or leaning against walls, come on over. If you have an esky (cooler) or a portable hotplate I can offer coffee or chilled refreshments too.

Here, the majority of leases begin and end on July 1st so getting a last minute truck for our fridge and stove, located just outside of the city, is proving impossible. Well, possible, for several hundred dollars...

So this post is a quickie. I really just wanted to show you this sculpture I walk past every day near the metro. It's Escher meets Montréal and I love it. Lots more soon.. xx


Conversations I need to have..

I miss contact with animals. I miss my dog.



And often
it's not about words at all..


Observations about Montréal

#5: Escalator etiquette. I've mentioned this to some before, and it's a simple thing but it gives me great pleasure. Here, when you come up out of the subway on the escalators, people stay on the right hand side allowing others (me) to walk up quickly. In Australia, people stand in couples or groups or right in the middle so that there is no choice for you but to stand still, ascending at a ridiculously slow pace, feeling pretty much trapped. So thank you Montréal, for letting me use my legs!
#6: The supermarkets don't seem to stock free-range eggs or chooks. I keep looking, but I can't see 'em..

#7: Nobody else here thinks squirrels are cute. I myself can't get enough of them. Yesterday I saw one which was pure white - my first albino sciuridae
encounter. I thought it was beautiful.


Summer, here

There's so much happening here in summer. This week I enjoyed the Nuit Blanche sur Tableau Noir with Karine and Jérémie. The street was closed to cars so that vendors could bring their wares out and create a street market. At around ten pm the artists started work on their paintings.

Nuit Blanche sur Tableau Noir

The day before I saw a fantastic 17 piece band play in a much smaller closed off street. Someone made me green pancakes for a surprise breakfast, I watched a fireworks display from my balcony that was so loud I thought the ground was shaking, and I think I developed a crush on a girl who was dancing in bright green jeans. There's something wonderful everywhere you turn...

(Often I don't have a camera on me so these were all taken with my phone - most of them stills from video).

Cat powers

Yesterday morning I was woken by a strange sound I can no longer recall. I just know that I sat bolt upright and turned to see Fred standing by the open window, shaking his head and saying "Mari-Lynne est tombée"!

"She fell. Mari-Lynne fell out the window".

I ran to the balcony and way down on the concrete, a very dazed and shaken cat was standing on uncertain legs, three stories below. I called to her and she began to walk back up the stairs. Fred met her at the bottom and carried her up to us and we watched as she tried to walk, lay down, tried again. She seemed unable to open one eye and unwilling to move much. We were so scared that she might have broken something, or be bleeding internally. I stayed home to watch her and was so relieved when, an hour or so later, she seemed to be her normal self again.

But Mari-Lynne was nowhere to be seen for the rest of the day. When Joanie came home and I tolde her what happened and there was still no sign of the kitten - I know we were both worried that she had crawled off somewhere to die. Of course, neither of us actually voiced those fears. Joanie eventually said goodnight and went to get ready for bed. From her room I could hear laughter and she emerged with Mari-Lynne under her arm. The cat had spent all day and all of the evening in Joanie's closet - unable to get out. I suspect she mightn't have wanted to though, preferring to recover somewhere safe and silent.

I'm still amazed at what a cat can survive. Amazed and very relieved.


Observations about Montréal

#4: Most things are written in French with an English translation beside or below. But massive warning signs that let you know you can't park/walk/be here are often in French alone. Which makes me think I should learn certain things soon, like "beware!" or "watch out!" or "trespassers will be shot!".

I've also noticed that when the metro stops or is held up, the announcement is only in French. I wear a sort of bewildered look on my face much of the time.



Today I wandered along St Laurent with Karine. I bought some beautiful little wooden - they look like canvases but they are all wood - squares to paint on, and some oilsticks to paint with. I learned all about Javanese puppetry and superstition from an informative, wordy man who owned a shop with amazing old cigar boxes and a beautiful old dog who greeted us warmly at the front counter. I bought some wonderful books - some to read and some to make art with. And I thought to myself, I'm happy to call this place home.

Obversations about Montréal

#1: People with dogs don't smile back at me when I smile at them. But I refuse to become an unsmiler. I will look people in the eye and in the dog and smile at them. (I'm happy to note that the dogs usually smile back).

#2: There are hardly any seats at all in metro stations.

#3: Squeaky cheese makes people happy.


Fish out of water

The floor in this room where I'm staying slopes downwards and away from me. When I sit, my chair rolls forwards to the desk. It feels as though I'm on a boat. Which is apt, since I've felt a little lost at sea over the last few weeks.

It doesn't matter how wonderful people are, it's always alienating to be in a place where you don't speak or understand the language. It can, at times, be a very lonely-in-a-crowd-of-people experience. There's a round of laughter and then someone explains the joke to me in my language, and everyone waits expectantly for my reaction. Or no-one translates and I wonder whether it's better form to laugh anyway or to look away.

More than once I've been chatting away to someone, only to have them reply in French to another conversation - one I had been oblivious to. I need to be aware that what is background noise to me, may be fascinating stories/questions/anecdotes to my companions.

More than once I've felt as though it's hard work for those speaking to me. But along with that, there are several others who have made me feel as though I'm doing them a favour by being here with them, allowing them to practice and develop their English. And whether or not that's entirely true, they've made me feel truly at home with them.

I'm trying, with my French, and soon I'll be able to join in where now I'm isolated, cut out, cut off. I'll be laughing in the first round of the joke and aware of what's being said around me. I'll be pronouncing my 'R's correctly and slightly less confused about why the garbage is female in French, and a vagina is male. I'll say le instead of la and vice versa - when it's appropriate - and I'll answer "Bonjour" instead of "Hi" when greeted by a cashier.


Getting there..

I said I'd write here often but this is the first time. You'll need to forgive me my ramblings now, I'll try to remember the stories I wanted to tell you at the time. Backtracking: The trip was exhausting. Fred and I spent the night before in Sydney at the domestic airport. We had a small box with a bed and a window overlooking the carpark of the Krispy Kreme.

We went out to Darling Harbour and enjoyed all the bling Sydney had to offer, along with a beautiful meal and some wine. We taxied back to the hotel and set our alarms for 6am.....
lay there listening to the rain, almost too nervous to sleep.

In the morning we returned the rental car to its rightful owner and headed inside. We went to our separate check-in counters and said we'd meet at a McDonalds on the other side of security - only because there was bound to be one and it would be easy to find. I went to check in for my Sydney-L.A-NY-Montréal flights only to find that the US had not authorised my visa. The sympathetic Qantas girl sent me to the one internet-ready pc in the terminal armed with a url where I could complete and print the form again. After a tedious wait I made it back to the check-in counter and was told the plane was full, that this was perfectly normal and that if we waited a bit they'd shuffle things around and find me a seat.
After about an hour I was free to take my mac up to the end of the terminal to check it in as fragile, oversized luggage. And then I was through security and wondering where Fred was, how long he'd waited for me at McDonalds, and whether we should, in future, rendezvous where the food is edible.

It's now obligatory to pass through Los Angeles (or possibly SF?) when you're going anywhere else in the States, collect your baggage and go through the security screening again. This tends to make connecting flights late and I arrived in New York
almost an hour later than expected. I ran to the air train to get to another terminal and was immediately approached by a young black guy wearing a funky hat and a rolled up magazine in his pocket. He asked me where I was going, which airline I was flying with and he told me he'd get me there. He said, "I'll take care of you if you take care of me, dig?" I nodded, unsure as to whether this was the time to relax or start panicking again. He then led me outside the building, taking my bags from me and walking at a pace I had to jog to match. We raced passed the arrivals pick-up area and across the carpark. I thought wow, so this is where my trip ends - in a carpark, with no bags, no wallet, possibly no passport. But my charismatic guide was true to his word and had led me to a door I would never have got to in time had I made my own way there. I paid him his $20+tax+tip fee and bolted to the counter as the PA announced that my flight had been closed. Another sympathetic check-in girl called ahead and told them she was sending me through. I made it, sweating ferociously, stinky with the not-so-subtle fragrance of panic.

And a few hours later I landed in my new home. Seeing no familiar faces in the airport, I wondered if Fred had made his flight. He had, and was outside in the balmy 27C evening smoking a ciggie with Roxanne. He cried a little as he held me, saying, "We're home now cherie, we're finally home". I wondered, does this home have a shower?