Saturday, August 25, 2007

Les Bon Séjours en Québec

What an eventful last week or so it has been!

As you may know, daN and i went on vacation in Québec City. Unfortunately, I cannot find the camera to show you pictures right now, but I can tell you that I had utterly underestimated that place for basically my whole life. I had been thinking of it as Montréal, which I love and have been to a few times. However, Montréal is pretty English-speaking and didn't feel all that European to me. I had been thinking that Québec City was going to be basically the same thing, only a tad older. Hoooo No! I was wrong. It is so French! I had been unfair to denigrate it so! Québec is lovely. We stayed just outside of the old city (it was about a 10-15 minute walk -- totally do-able) at a place called Auberge L'Autre Jardin whose particular schtick is environmental and social consciousness. They even put forth a system where we would be able to communicate to the staff whether we wanted our towels from the previous day changed out or not so as to avoid waste. I am a big fan. Their breakfast (included in the price of the room) was delicious organic fairly traded everything (complete with croissants and local artisan raspberry preserves), and they had energy efficient lights everywhere. The only problem was that the beds were a bit too firm for me and daN. We don't need pillow-top or anything, but it was a bit firm for the both of us. Ah well.

While we were there, we mainly walked around. We did manage to see a very cool exhibit on the history of dragons at Musée de la Civilisation for formality's sake, but in retrospect, I wish we had gone to La Musée des Beaux Arts. There is so much rich history and so many opportunities for reading at every corner post in that city that we were totally "read out" by the time we reached the exhibit. Note to self: favor art museums over history museums while on trips with rich history bursting out of every nook. It was a bit much.

Walking around was where we found all the rich history. There is this BEAUTIFUL park called the Plains of Abraham where the French and British faced off to determine who would attain rule of Canada. As we know, it went to Great Britain. The history is funny. It is evident that the French in Québec chafe under British rule even now to some extent, and there is a palpable sense of loss and regret not to be "french" anymore. However, on our tour of Parliament, we learned some of the reasons why there's only some sense of regret: the British have been good to them, by and large. Canada is a sovereign nation, not to England, but to themselves. I had not realized that Queen Elizabeth is also "Queen of Canada." Rather than British Parliament, Canada reports to the monarchy, which as we all know, is a symbolic figurehead with no real power and has been for quite some time. No real threat there. Great Britain under George III was also quick to grant Canada any and all demands in the 1780's and 90's to avoid the likes of the French and American Revolutions. That set the stage for a far more progressively democratic nation than they would have been granted under French rule at that time. The sense of loss at the war monuments seemed bittersweet in that "it's too bad it couldn't have worked out between the two of us" kind of way.

I gleaned all this from an amateur crash course in history from the Québecois Parliament tour we went on and from reading all of the inscriptions on all the monuments and dedicated parks we came across.

Let's just put it this way: there was enough green space there for me to piece together a patchwork history of the province and simultaneously feel like I was in this bucolic French countryside. So much green space! It was almost unbelievable. One minute, we'd be walking in a densely packed, cobblestoned neighborhood perfumed by flower boxes. Every square inch of space was taken up with old stone buildings. In fact, were it not for the ubiquitous fetid flower boxes, the place would have taken up a mantel more appropriate to a prison. It's amazing what a little bit of color can do to improve the quaintness of a place. The next minute, we'd round a bend and this vast park with trees, amazingly landscaped monuments would unfold before us. With the Citadel on one side and the cliffs of the wide St. Lawrence river on the other side, the wind blew through my now-shortened hair and I got cold! The chill of my old friend the Northeastern Autumn was in the air, and I was truly on vacation.

The Food: just a short bit. Yes, it deserves the capital "F." By and large, I did pretty well sticking to my dietary restrictions. However, that didn't stop me from having a couple of crêpes and croissants. And boy, were they tasty! Back to real life, though.

The Language: those Québecois are too good at detecting when people are more comfortable speaking English than I would have liked! I only gave up and let one of them speak to me in English once when I was particularly tired, or when there was something that I truly didn't know how to talk about in French. Most of the time, though, they liked it when I persevered in conducting affairs in French, and daN observed that I was treated better as a direct result.

That's got to be enough reading for you for now, and I've got to go to yoga class. All in all, the trip was worth the 7.5 hour drive, and I will certainly return.

Friday, August 24, 2007

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Boston

You definitely have a Boston accent, even if you think you don't. Of course, that doesn't mean you are from the Boston area, you may also be from New Hampshire or Maine.

North Central
The West
The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The Inland North
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dear Readers,

Thank you all for the wonderful words of support via comments and otherwise! My haircut is proving to be a big success. I'm the local celebrity at the office, and I simply love being able to wash and go.

Other updates will have to wait a little bit. Here are the basics:
  • daN and I are continuing the house hunt. Something's gonna give at some point.
  • We're going to Quebec City for a few days starting on the 18th! I'm so excited! It's very close, and I've never been. I'm looking forward to speaking French there.
  • I love shopping.
  • I made a delicious curry tonight, and the triple chocolate brownies I made on Friday night are still fantastic.
  • I love August. It goes between hot and crispy cool -- it's one of the nicest combinations of fall and summer.

Those brownies are calling to me, as are the wine and the game of rummy I promised daN.

Until next time, dear readers.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Cut!

Well, here are some pictures. i LOVE it.

Q, thanks for being there; Lee, thanks for the words of encouragement. I feel great!

I was VERY nervous just beforehand. Then once the braids were gone, i was all set!

For the first time in memory, i felt the wind on my scalp. That experience was AWESOME on this sweaty day of 100 degrees.

Some poor child can have it now. Locks for love, here my braids come!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Tomorrow, I am cutting my hair off and donating it to locks for love.

I am going to go short for the first time ever. And i'm psyched! Woot! It takes so long to deal with, and i am really looking for ease.

See picture to the right to see the style i'm contemplating.

I'll put up pictures, i promise. Q will be there for me for moral support, to take before, after, and during pictures, and frankly, i don't think i could beat her off with a stick. Q, i know how sad you'd be if i left you out of this :) And hopefully you know how sad i'd be if you weren't coming! Man... i think i'd be petrified if i had any idea of what to expect.