October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Yes, in Canada we use power tools to carve a pumpkin. We also live in igloos.
Happy Halloween!

another iPhone photo

October 26, 2010

the Daily Duke 10.26

He's in there somewhere. He sort of blends in with the leaves. (taken with the iPhone)

October 22, 2010

Fall is in the air

Kish returned yesterday from a trip down south. As the flight approached Montreal it was amazing to see the sea of colours on the ground. Fall is absolutely gorgeous. Yes, the iPhone was accidentally on when it was supposed to be off.

October 11, 2010

the Daily Duke 10.11

It's Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Duke has assumed is usual turkey-themed holiday meal position in front of the oven. He'll be doing the same thing in November...although it's not a day off for the Pisani family in Canada.

October 8, 2010

the Daily Duke 10.8

Life is good. La vie est bonne. (I think. Thanks Google translate). I really should keep up with French. We've been here two years and I'm still in "temporary mode."

Day after

Louis is one happy teenager after getting his birthday gift last night -- he will be going to the Bears/Bills game in November in Toronto and meeting his best buddy Liam. Oh, and the dads get to go too!

Louis has a "ped" day today -- again. Thankfully he also received the Gretzky Slapshot game for the Wii. Awesome. "We" are both enjoying it today.

October 7, 2010

the Daily Duke 10.7

Today is Louis' 13th birthday. I'm not sure who is more excited about the likelihood of cake and ice cream tonight -- Louis or his dog.

Girls for the cure

Danielle's school was one of six all-girls schools in Montreal to participate in the Girls for the Cure walk. I love this photo (not mine, but supplied by the organization) because it shows this beautiful sea of pink with Montreal in the background. The event took place at Mont-Royal Park which happens to be one of my favorite places in Montreal.

Over 2,300 girls participated in this annual event. They came together to take action against female-related cancers. While I so wish we didn't have to have events to fundraise for cancer, it's heartening to see this enthusiasm and watch these girls rally for a cause. Unfortunately, many of the girls in this photo have already been affected by female-related cancers, or will be, one way or another.

For more information of what's happening here in Montreal you can check it out here.

October 6, 2010

Things not seen in the US #9

If you think the separation of French and English....such as what was written in the previous post...is a joke....take a look at this "Things not seen in the US" photo taken while shopping for CDs at our neighborhood WalMart yesterday.

The displays are on opposite sides of the aisle. By the way, Celine Dion is a Francophone. Thank goodness, it just wouldn't be right to have her next to Bob Dylan or The Doors.

Letters of the French law

We like it in Quebec, we really do. But this type of discussion (see article below) makes us want to move to Delaware just so we can vote in that election and watch those "I am not a witch" commercials over and over. Not really. (I'm supposed to be inserting a disclaimer here stating that the political comments are the views expressed by the person who writes this blog, not everyone in house). Although, Louis does like to tell his Nana (Kish's mom) that "Obama Rocks" when she's visiting and watching Fox News. Incidentally, Louis' school district is Lester B. Pearson and the chair said has said, "It's just a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money and it takes money out of a school board," Tabachnick said. I like that "we'll get around to it when we get around to it" attitude. 

Letters of the French law


English school board spending $5,000 replacing keyboards

to comply with Bill 101

A representative of English school boards tried yesterday to smooth over a dispute involving 100 perfectly good computer keyboards that were replaced to comply with Quebec's language law.
"We think everybody should just take a pill," said David Birnbaum, executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA).

On Monday, CBC reported that the Riverside School Board was spending $5,000 to replace English keyboards in its office with French ones. The board is also putting stickers on 50 laptops to hide English terms like "Shift" and "Delete."

The South Shore board, which stretches from Ste. Catherine to Sorel-Tracy, ordered the new keyboards to meet francization requirements under Bill 101.

"It's true we made the request," said Martin Bergeron, spokesperson for the Office quebecois de la langue francaise, which has been working with the Riverside board to ensure its operations are in compliance with the language charter.

So far, only three of Quebec's nine English school boards have obtained francization certificates allowing them to operate in English as well as French, Bergeron said. They are the Commission scolaire du littoral on the Lower North Shore; the Eastern Shores School Board in the Gaspe; and the New Frontiers School Board in the Chateauguay Valley.
The six others are in the process of meeting the requirements.
Birnbaum said he had no problem with the keyboard purchase even though he insisted that conforming to the language law should not come at the expense of schools.

"We make sure the priority is in the classroom," he said.
But Marcus Tabachnick, chairmanof theLesterB. Pearson School Board, was critical of the Office's requirement.

"It's just a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money and it takes money out of a school board," Tabachnick said.

"Everybody is crying about the amount of funds and services available and here a school board is going to have to take money out of services to students," he added.

Tabachnick said the francization program has not caused any major problems for the Pearson board so far.

"We have about 8,000-plus computers. We've been purchasing bilingual keyboards for a long time and all of our software is bilingual so it's never been an issue," he said.

At the English Montreal School Board, Director General Robert Stocker said the commission is in discussions with the Office over measures it needs to implement.

"We intend to comply with the provisions of the law and are in the process of discussing with the OLF the most reasonable measures and timelines that the EMSB can take to be in full compliance," Stocker said in a statement.

The Office usually allows organizations it is working with to replace equipment as it wears out, to minimize costs, Bergeron said.
The Riverside board said the discarded keyboards will be put to use in classrooms.

"The road to meeting the requirements (of the Office) is sometimes a little bumpy," Birnbaum said. "But the QESBA's experience is the Office has a job to do and is generally working with us in a collaborative fashion," he added.

Bill 101 requires all companies and organizations of 50 or more employees -including school boards -to obtain a certificate of francization.

"The fact that it is an English school board has nothing to do with it," Bergeron said. "In Quebec, the language of work is French."

October 5, 2010

the Daily Duke 10.5

Everyone is on edge now because Mom is learning how to use Photoshop, which means even more photos. If Duke could talk he would be all..."Not that DAMN camera again. You need to keep your hands free so that you can throw these damn balls."

"I'm almost fluent" word of the day 10.5

Have you ever noticed all the French things we use daily? French fries, French toast or even a French maid? Okay, we don't have a French maid. Wish we did at times. We have a couple of birthdays in our house this week --  which has us thinking about cake and ice cream -- which lead me to wonder about French Vanilla ice cream. It's a literal translation of course. It's not a special kind of vanilla, but refers to the way in which the French style of making the ice cream with a custard base of cream and egg yolks. It will go quite well with a slice of gâteau de chocolat. If only I could just say....


Where's Julia Child when you need her?

Two years

It's hard to believe it was exactly two years ago today when we boarded a plane to move to Montreal. At the last minute, Paul had to stay behind since we found on the day we were leaving that Duke could not fit on the small Air Canada plane. So Paul followed up the next day, without the dog, who arrived ten days later. Long Story.

We left on a Sunday afternoon and the kids started their schools the next day. They didn't have much time to think about the transition. It was good that we were sort of naive and not knowing what we were getting into when it came to education. Overall, we are happy with it...there are a few things we wish we didn't have to deal with, but that's expected just about anywhere.
Danielle was not too thrilled about her new uniform on her first day of the new school. Today, she's loving it. "I can get out of bed and ten minutes later I'm out the door." Louis does not have to wear a uniform. For him, it's probably a good thing. He has enough Bears, Bulls, Sox, Blackhawks, etc. shirts to last a lifetime. 
Within days of moving to Montreal, Paul and Louis were at their first CFL game.
Here's a list of some observations/comments about where we are today....and how our lives are different from two years ago and life in suburban Chicago.
  • We couldn't make it with the two ice trays. Paul received a cool ice maker for Father's Day which sits on the floor in our kitchen.  Ice trays, or lack of ice in the trays, became more of a hot issue than politics, homework or taxes in the Pisani home.
  • We're so pleased to have gotten involved in Special Olympics Quebec. Danielle and Paul plan on taking courses to become Level 1 ski instructors this winter.
  • We won't ever complain about taxes in the U.S. Ever. 
  • The northeast is beautiful. We're enjoying being able to take road trips to a part of the country we had not experienced.
  • Our kids will enjoy looking back at their passports some day.
  • We're getting accustomed to customs. We know the drill now.
  • Danielle knows the Montreal public transportation system so well -- and she doesn't need an app for that, although there is one.
  • We've watched a rugby game a the Plains of Abraham. Danielle has traveled to New Brunswick twice for rugby. 
  • We love Canadian beer. And wine. And cheese. And bread. 
  • Duke responds to bon chien. Only when he's being good though.
  • Danielle and Paul enjoy talking in French assuming the rest of the family does not know what they are saying. Sometimes we surprise them with our limited knowledge.
  • Canadian politics -- entertaining!
  • The price of gas can easily fluctuate 10 cents/LITRE from one day to the next. No biggie.
  • Maple syrup is more expensive here than in the US. 
  • Offering vaccines in schools is a good thing. Remember the 1970s? 
  • We continue to be pleased with the health care in Canada. Are there issues? Of course. But, so far, so good for us.
  • It's easier (and less expensive) to see the Chicago Bears on the road rather than in Soldier's Field.
  • We still want to go to Cuba.
  • Danielle has met friends from all over the world. Literally. We love her school. 
  • If we travel out of town these days, when we fly/drive back to Montreal we feel like we are coming home.
  • We did have to switch banks from the one that was only open from 10-4 to one that is open later and on Saturdays. We tried, but we couldn't fit in with those banker's hours. I supposed we truly are impatient Americans. Still no drive through windows though. As a result, we know the people in the bank. That's a good thing. 
  • Quebecers have a lot of holidays. When in Quebec...
  • Duke remains happy. He is a Canadian Field Labrador after all.
  • We're happy about the Saints winning the Super Bowl. Funny how the fleur-de-lis remains a part of our lives.
  • We've met some really, really nice people in Montreal and throughout Canada.
  • US labor strikes are nothing compared to Canadian, and in particular Quebec, labor strikes.
  • We'll never take freedom of education lightly again. 
  • On that note...we know all about the Parti Quebecois...something we had no idea about two years ago.
As a perfect example of how different or life is these days...Paul left this morning for a meeting in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. What the?

October 3, 2010

"I'm almost fluent" word of the day 10.3

Today's word needs a minor explanation....


Don't get grossed out. We know what it means in English from those horrible commercials. However, in French it means, SHOWER. On that note, off to...just can't say it. Off to take a shower.

the Daily Duke 10.3

It's quiet in the Pisani home today and Duke seems to be enjoying it, especially since he's finally allowed back on the furniture since the skunk smell is slowly diminishing. Paul and Louis are south for the football game and Danielle is at a First Aid class, so Duke and Kish are watching some Sunday morning news programming (love Christiane Amanpour) and have moved on to N.F.L. Although I wish it was not necessary, seeing all the pink at the games is touching, eh?

October 2, 2010

Bon voyage Paul and Louis!

Paul and Louis left today for New Jersey/New York for the Bears/Giants game on Sunday night. They are so ready for some football and so ready to see the Bears. Paul has his Bears parka, even though it won't be that cold. And Louis is armed with his Urlacher jersey.

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