July 23, 2010

Simple pleasures

Nothing gives this dog more pleasure than tennis balls and water....except of course peanut butter, humping everything in site at the dog park, vanilla ice cream, the sound of the garage door opening, stealing meat off our previous neighbor's grill, the comfort of the couch or a car ride. He's a happy Canadian dog these days. However, he misses our Naperville neighbor Ellen...and her yard.

July 22, 2010

Mr. Pisani goes to Washington

Okay. The whole family went to Washington. Two weeks ago we took a road trip to DC, figuring it was not very American that our kids had visited Canada's capitol (Ottawa) before the US capitol, it was about time. And it's only a ten hour drive from Montreal. Danielle was also accepted into an week-long International Relations program at Georgetown so we had to get her to DC.

We were excited that Paul's brother Dan could join us for the weekend. We had a great time and his iPhone came in handy when we had questions about monuments and history as we walked and walked and walked around the great city.

Two and a half days is not nearly enough time to see everything.

Whenever we venture south to "the States" we have a deeper appreciation for the US. We love living in Canada, but there are little things we notice more these days. We definitely pay more attention to the history between the two countries. Did we miss that class in school? Did we study much about Canada? Who's the Prime Minister of Canada? (we know that one). When in the US we're quick to point out anything Canadian.

The monuments and museums were nice and all, but it was also great to pay US prices for meals and beverages. We had a lovely evening with Kish's cousin Colleen Fauerbach who now lives in DC and works for an advertising agency. She knows all the great hot spots in the city and suggested a fantastic restaurant (Founding Farmers) with great food...and even better beverages. Thanks Colleen for giving Danielle all those "how to get away with a curfew as a teenager" tips! Incidentally, Kish spent quite a bit of time at Colleen's house in Madison when Colleen was younger and Kish was in college at Marquette. Colleen's dad Neil would make the drive to Milwaukee or a pick up at the bus station so Kish could escape the dorm and enjoy a real house for a weekend or holiday. Years later, Kish was visiting Madison when Colleen and her sister Erin were teenagers and recalls Neil and Maryann getting so excited with the invention and installation of caller id at their home. "It's so easy to keep track of them now!" they would say with smiles on their faces, staring at this box by the phone whenever it rang. Now with a teenager in our house, we get that. Back then all Kish could think about was how much caller id would have sucked been inconvenient for her teenage years in the 80s.

Starting to see a family resemblance...

While everyone else took in a Nationals game, Kish also had a chance to catch up with another Colleen....Colleen Merlihan (now Cannon) from Marquette. Great times in a great city. Suffice it to say, we're more particular about the beer we drink and went to a great new restaurant. We've come a long way from 25 cent happy hour mystery beer in Milwaukee.

Back to politics....Louis remembered Abraham Lincoln from his Illinois history. He was excited to see the monuments and all things Lincoln. When we would venture back to the hotel he wanted to make sure we walked by the White House and constantly asked, "Where is President Obama?" He knows Obama is a White Sox fan. And he knew the White Sox were playing that weekend at a game in Chicago and it had to be on television and for sure in the White House. He  could not understand why we could not knock on the White House door and go watch the game with the President. He was serious. We were explaining about Secret Service, security, and the dudes on top of the house with guns. He didn't care. We did. He's a loyal Sox fan you know.

Our only disappointment was that we did not see more protesters! We were hoping to crash a Tea Party. Kish had a red Sharpie in her purse ready to edit signs and correct spelling.

After the weekend we dropped Danielle off at Georgetown...more about that in another posting.

Danielle is proud of her birth state!

We visited the Capitol on Saturday. Unfortunately there wasn't much going on. Incidentally, we found out that it's easier for us to get in to see the House in session because we don't have a US address...next time we can present our Visas after security and we don't have to go through our local legislator, because we don't have one. 

Uncle Dan strikes a lawyer pose in front of the Supreme Court

July 4, 2010

4th of July and pie

We had a nice 4th of July with Canadian friends out in the Eastern Townships of Quebec -- east of Montreal. This is the area we travel to each weekend in the winter for Special Olympics skiing. It was so nice to see the countryside all green and in bloom for the summer.

Our first stop was to try on ski jackets for next season...which seemed odd in the summer. Our team and volunteers will be all decked out in matching red this coming season!

Then we were off to the home of Tim, Sally and Adrian Crocker for lunch. We've been to their home several times before for Special Olympics parties and this time it was nice to truly visit. Tim and Sally have the most ideal home set up for Adrian who is 37 and has autism. Adrian lives in a small group home during the week and comes home on weekends. This home is decked out with a large swing, trampoline and the swimming pool, all of which are great for Adrian and visitors like us! Tim and Sally are patient and wise parents. It's so important to be friends with people who have "been there" and have gone through the adults stages with a child with a disability. We are truly fortunate to have several friends like this in our lives...and especially fortunate to know a few families here in Canada who have also "been there."

And the gardens! We were treated to a fantastic lunch with everything fresh including Sally's "snappy lettuce"-- I should have photographed it! The gardens around their home are stunning...

We came home from our lovely day and at our front door we find the most amazing cherry pie from our American friends the Tease family (from Alabama).  No fireworks tonight (we did that on Canada Day)...but a great American-made cherry pie is an awesome way to close out 4th of July.

Happy 4th, neighbours

Happy 4th, neighbours


Despite our differences, Canada and the U.S. celebrate in much the same way


Montrealers lined Ste. Catherine St. W. for the Canada Day Parade on Thursday. Tomorrow, Americans will also parade to celebrate their national day.

Photograph by: DAVE SIDAWAY THE GAZETTE, The Gazette

The overlapping national holidays of Canada and the United States are an occasion to consider both the differences and similarities of our two countries.

Americans wish each other a "Happy 4th," while Canadians are still trying to get their minds around "Happy Canada Day!" Not that anyone, in its previous incarnation, went around wishing one another "Happy Dominion Day!" In Montreal, we say "Happy Moving Day!" but that's another story.

The high point of each day is the concert and fireworks in front of Parliament Hill and the U.S. Capitol. When I was at our embassy in Washington in the early 1990s, our most sought-after invitation of the year was to the ambassador's July 4 barbecue on the rooftop of the chancery overlooking the Capitol and National Mall. One congressman from Ohio used to bring his entire family, provided we didn't give his name to the style section of the Washington Post, much less the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Why would Americans celebrate their national day at a foreign embassy? It was all about the first rule of real estate -location, location, location. Besides, they don't really think of us as foreigners, just as neighbours. And here's Ottawa's little secret -the most coveted invitation of the year is to the U.S. ambassador's annual 4th of July garden party, over the lawn of the American residence, an eagle's nest at the pinnacle of Rockcliffe, looking down on 24 Sussex.

One story in particular in the news cycle this past week, the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, brought home both the similarities and differences of our two high courts. Each Supreme Court has nine members, and vacancies are filled by the prime minister and president, subject in the U.S. to approval by the Senate, which is the hard part.

Every confirmation hearing is a polarizing event, with the entire political class choosing sides, over issues such as abortion, gun control, and the division of powers between the federal government and the states. In Canada, the struggle is to prevent the Supremes from becoming a Charter Kool-Aid court, enamoured of equality rights to the detriment of the division of powers that was the fundamental bargain of Confederation.

In the U.S. nomination process, no rock in the nominee's past is considered too small to roll over -in Kagan's case, as a non-judge with no judicial footprint, her litmus test of intent became notes she wrote when she was clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall a quarter century ago. In Canada, appointments to the Supreme Court are the sole prerogative of the prime minister, though Stephen Harper invited the Commons justice committee to have a very cordial session with Marshall Rothstein in 2006.

If confirmed, and she is a lock, the former Harvard law dean and current U.S. solicitor general will be the third woman on the U.S. high court, a first. In Canada, four out of nine Supreme Court judges are women, including the chief justice, and no one even comments on it anymore.
But gender balance isn't the spin in the U.S. media, it's religious affiliation. When confirmed, Kagan will become the third Jewish member of the U.S. Supreme Court, to go along with six Catholics. That's correct, there will be no Protestants on the U.S. Supreme Court, and this in a country famously founded by WASPs.

In Canada, there are also three Jewish members of the Supreme Court -Rothstein, Morris Fish and Rosalie Abella, and only Abella mentions in her bio on the SCC's website that she is "the first Jewish woman" to sit on the Supreme Court. None of the other eight members even lists a religious denomination. The four francophones might well be Catholic, but who's asking? And this in a country whose constitutional foundation is the Quebec Act of 1774, vouchsafing the right of Catholics to practise their faith and, in effect, to speak French.

What we do count here is linguistic balance. With five English and four Frenchspeaking members, francophones are actually overrepresented.
The two courts, and the different preoccupations about them, really do say a lot about how we are different, as well as alike.

But then there are the word sof John F. Kennedy, graven in stone on the new U.S. embassy in Ottawa. As he famously told Parliament in 1961: "Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies."

To our American friends, Happy 4th.


All that being said....my US spell check goes crazy when reprinting articles from Canadian newspapers. 

July 3, 2010

Summer is in full swing

It's a typical Saturday in Canada...not much different from the U.S.

Louis had the chance to pitch in today's game...first throw was a strike!

 Paul is known as "USA" by parents on the team. Is it any wonder? 
What you can't see is the White Sox South Side Pride shirt from the front

From the ball field we were off to the rugby field where Danielle had her opening game of the summer rugby season.

That's Danielle, or "Danni" as she's known on the field, in red and black and holding her own. Kish's brothers are familiar with the curse of the Schmitz calves...but they come in handy for rugby

Paul and Danielle...and for the single ladies...hello? There's lots of good scenery at men's rugby games

July 1, 2010

Temporary Canadians

When in Canada....Happy Canada Day! It's quite a weekend with 4th of July to finish things off. As you can imagine, this maple leaf is only temporary.

Today also marks the opening of the Canadian Football League -- football as in "American Football." All week we've heard promotions on TSN to spark enthusiasm for the big game tonight. "It's the Montreal Alouettes versus the Saskatchewan Roughriders...live from REGINA." And yes, when they say "Regina" we do a double-take because it does sound like "that."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...