Marché Jean-Talon

We’ve been in Montreal for just over a month and a half now (two months on Halloween!), and still had been to one of the open-air markets.  We like to take things slowly apparently.  Finally, this weekend, we journeyed to Marché Jean-Talon.  We could, of course, head to the Atwater Market and skip the Metro ride, but we’ll see….

We enjoyed ourselves here.  We filled our bodies full of carbohydrates (which I did photograph, but lost the photos :S), purchased some fall produce, and bought some over-priced, but delicious goat cheese.

A carrot/pumpkin related post coming your way soon.



Reading Round-up: French, Migraines, and More

A bit of a random post today.  Excusez-moi, s’il vous plait.  Put a kettle on. Get ready for a bit of reading. This is texty and light on photos.

Some days, I will dedicate most of my intellectual “leisure” time to French (before you start thinking that I should be waaaay better by now, remember that I am now working about 30 hrs a week again and we have no dishwasher or microwave here!).  Obviously, my French is nowhere close to my English.  I can read and fully comprehend one French news article in the time it takes to read something like three or four English articles.  So while I am working on the language, I feel like I am less-informed about current events, taking in less literature, etc.

This week, my French may have suffered, but I put in a lot of reading.

1. I finally read Age of Miracles. Fast read, young adult novel. I always enjoy a read like this, especially after plodding through some dense non-fiction.  I’m not a slow reader per se, but I definitely would not be considered a fast reader.  I wish I could say I was above needing a confidence-boosting YA novel now and again, but alas, I am not.

2. I also did put in some of the aforementioned, dense non-fiction reading.  Enter Oliver Sacks and Migraine.  As a classical migraine sufferer, I found this fascinating and learned a lot.  I feel so validated! The first migraine I remember having was in second or third grade, at a friend’s birthday party.  Since then, I learned some triggers and associations.  I often have migraines when I eat hot dogs (not an issue anymore, obviously), a bar of plain chocolate, too much cow’s dairy (goat cheese does not have the same effect), more than one or two servings of caffeine in a day, or much alcohol.  My symptoms include loss of visions, numbness of hands/roof of mouth/nose, throbbing pain in temple and behind eye (usually the right side), and nausea. Those are the usual for me.  On a couple of occasions, when I wasn’t able to take an Excedrin or lie down and fall asleep in time, I actually began to lose the ability to read and speak. Sounds scary, right?  (Some sufferers have fainted or even had seizures as results of migraines–eek!). But after reading this book, I actually feel fortunate, as I maybe suffer between four-twelve a year, and often can stop the progression with over-the-counter medication.

3. Reading for class: The Fattening of America by Eric A. Finkelstein. So far, I’m not exactly learning new facts from this book, but the author’s argument that the obesity epidemic is caused by economic and technology changes is what makes this an interesting read.

You didn’t know I was taking classes?!  My class, the Economics of Obesity, starts today and is offered by a Johns Hopkins professor through the [FREE!] online program Coursera. Coursera is great for fans of lifelong learning, who enjoy learning with structure, but do not enjoy paying for it!   In most cases, you will get a signed certificate from a well-established university verifying your course completion.  I’m signed up for some education courses that start in January as well. You can also watch the TED talk by Coursera’s creator if you’re interested.

4. Blog Reading. I don’t always have my nose buried in a book iPad.  I like to read all sorts of sources.  You know I love blogs.

French in Perspective. David Lebovitz is a chef/blogger from San Fransisco who currently lives in France.  He writes in English, but often reflects on learning/speaking French.  This post hits on those frustrations and also highlights some neat old dictionaries (perfect for bibliophiles who are trying to learn French!).

When not reading in French, I do enjoy reading about learning it.  One of my pet peeves is when people say things like “When I spent two weeks in Spain, Spanish just clicked for me.”  As though language is magic and he/she learned Spanish as though receiving the gift of speaking in tongues from the Holy Spirit. First of all, a large portion of the people who have said this type of thing to me are not even fluent (sometimes have even fewer skills in Spanish/French than me!)  Benny, who manages a blog for language learners, has a great perspective on this in “Why Learning a Language is Not Impressive”.  He consistently reminds people that it is hard (but meaningful!) work to learn a new language.  This is my experience, as I work for each and every word.

5. Current events. This one’s a bit light-hearted.  And I just wanted to share the article with you.  Please check out the side by side comparison of the “restored” fresco.  Old ladies always mean well, don’t they?

I hope you’re enjoying some wonderful and educational reading lately.  Along with that pot of tea that is now ready for you.

un arcs-en-ciel

We’ve had a lot of rain lately.  I’ve been walking around with wet socks for a week now. (Yeah, I could probably invest in a pair of shoes/boots that do not have holes in them already…)

On my way home from work on Saturday, I noticed that many people were pointing behind me and snapping photos like crazy.  When I hit the next no-walk sign, I glanced back toward the direction I was walking from.  Since half of all pedestrians were grabbing their cameras phones, I did too.

Why, hello, Mr. Rainbow.

I would have said, “Bonjour, Monsieur Arcs-en-ciel,” but of course, I didn’t know the word until I came home and looked it up 🙂

Wet socks are more tolerable underneath un bel arcs-en-ciel.



In Case You Tired of Talking about the Election in English (Vendredi Vocab)

Election rhetoric is heating up.

Don’t think that we escaped it when we moved to Canada.  The news is still filled with debates over verbage like “acts of terror” and “spontaneous reaction.” I tried (key word tried) to discuss a bit of the election news with someone this week and realized that even though I had been reading plenty of articles about the recent elections in Quebec, I wasn’t able to express myself regarding the elections.  I can recognize related words when presented with them, but I could not necessarily recall them on my own.  Since I’ve got three more weeks of defending the decisions of the United States*, I thought some vocab review was in order.

the election: l’élection

the candidate: le candidat

the debate: le débat

to elect: élire

the White House: la Maison Blanche

women’s rights: les droits des femmes

human rights: les droits de l’homme

a social problem: le problème social

the environment: l’environnement

politics or the policy: les/la politique

fiscal: fiscal (love cognates!)

foreign affairs: les affaires étrangères

Republican: Républicain

Democrat: Démocrate

Independent: indépendant

a political party: le parti politique

to be undecided: être indécis

to vote: voter

the ballot: le bulletin de vote

to vote absentee: voter par correspondance

China: le Chine

the Middle East: le Moyen-Orient

taxes: les impôts ou les taxes (I’m going to ask someone this week what the difference between the two is)

the middle class: la classe moyenne

gay marriage : le mariage homosexuel

abortion: l’avortement

government support/handouts: le soutien du gouvernement

the state: l’etat

Electoral College (the body of representatives who actually elect the President and Vice President): Collège électoral, (le corps de représentants qui élisent en fait le président et le vice-président)

to discuss: discuter

to argue: argumenter

the rhetoric: la rhétorique

an act of terror: un acte de la terreur

the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi: l’attaque sur le Consulat américain à Benghazi

binders of women: les classeurs des femmes

ridiculous: ridicule

tiring: fatigant

If you’ve made it this far in my list, you can probably tell that I am not exactly enthusiastic.  The 21-year-old political-science major version of myself is probably very disappointed with my disengagement.  I cannot help it.  I have trouble believing that either candidate is defending their own personal beliefs, when they are so reliant on the money of others to get elected.  Ahhhh….but at least I can try and say that in French now!

*During my travels in Brazil, Europe, and also my couple months here, I feel that I often am asked to explain on behalf of the entire country of the United States.  When people are simply asking for clarification of a general point of view and understand that I am just one person, it’s no problem.  But occasionally, someone acts as though I personally elected every political representative in the last 27 years (even if I didn’t vote for him/her and couldn’t vote for 18 years of my life!) and have personally decided and implemented the policies which he or she doesn’t agree with.  I try and take it in stride, but this does wear on me. When moving/traveling to a different country, has anyone else experienced this?

Photo Walk of McGill Campus

I have a few photos of McGill’s campus stockpiled from the end of our walk in Parc du Mont-Royal.  I thought some of our family and friends might be interested to see where the husband spends his days.  The campus is definitely different from SDSU and UMD, as it has a bit more of a Hogwarts feel.

Maybe a bit of Hogwarts mixed with Shutter Island.  The university is known for its medical school and the hospital kind of gives me the creeps. I’m not sure if the photo below is the hospital or not anymore, but kind of the same style of building as the hospital.  Conjures up vague terms like “medical arts,” right?

Campus really is beautiful in the fall, though.  Especially where you can avoid construction and restoration.

Not bad, right?  It seems like the kind of place where students might be discussing some political philosophy or obscure art movements, over butter beers of course.  Okay, okay, I’ll stop making Harry Potter references.

Does campus look like what you pictured it would?



A Visit to Musée des Beaux-Arts

I love free museums.  In fact, I am spoiled from working in DC, and now have trouble paying to go to museums.  When we moved here, I was thrilled to know that Montreal’s Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) was free and only a ten minute walk away.  I’ve been twice already, and definitely see many returns in my future.

The museum is located on Rue Sherbrooke, but split between four different pavilions.  So, if you’re splitting your visit, you’ll have to decide what you’re interested in for the day.  I decided to hit up the Pavillon Jean-Noël Desmarais, which contains international art, as well as a Napoleon-centered collection (clearly, the international art was more of the draw for me).  Look for the red hearts on the street; they’ll let you know you’re at the right pavilion.

The building itself was very light, open, and airy.  I liked the architecture, but I found the open stairwell to be frustrating.  The steps are so gradual that it’s hard to decide if you ought to take one or two at a time.

There was some excellent art on display.  And many artists I wasn’t familiar with but really enjoyed, which was a treat. You’ll have to excuse me, I tend to get more excited with European art beginning in the 1500s, so I lack photos from any of the galleries from earlier time periods and my Napoleon shots are limited.

(The above army of empty boots was really quite haunting to be alone with).

Some of the other modern art I have no comments for.  I leave them up to your interpretation.

There were others that we much more my style, though.  I loved the following painting by Dorian FitzGerald (who is actually Quebecois, but in the Int’l Art pavilion).

But when you look closer, you can see that the details you thought were in the painting, actually aren’t as concrete as you might have thought. It was really interesting how the light seems to float across the painting.

I found some of my old favorites, like Giacometti, Picasso, Matisse, etc.  There was even a little Calder mobile (Calder always makes me feel at home, since I walked under a Calder mobile every day when I worked at the NGA in DC).

I really enjoyed my time here.  I recommend staying clear of school groups as much as possible, but it is difficult to avoid teenagers with clipboards and checklists during the week.  I spent about an hour and half in the four floors of this pavilion.  If you don’t happen to live ten minutes away and cannot return as you like, I’d recommend two-three hours to spend in the entire museum.  See you soon with a recap of my visit to the other pavilions.

Happy hump Wednesday.


Sunday’s Caffeinated Snapshots

My caffeine intake has spiked since moving to Montreal.  But I’ve been a sucker for cafe culture since the Cottonwood Coffee days at SDSU.  And as you might guess, it’s harder to resist here.  And I love when baristas take the time to make art out of my habit. We’ve had hearts and leaves….

and some funny faces….(the one in the background was a dragon, but a few too many shakes got to it before the camera did)…

but Jordan’s recent cappuccino wins thus far:

I tip my baristas for latte art.  Anyone else?

Have a great week!