November 30, 2010

American Thanksgiving with Canadians, the NFL and CFL

We celebrated American Thanksgiving a few days late by inviting our Canadian friends the Murphy's over to watch the Bears play the Eagles in American football followed by dinner and then the Grey Cup, which is the Canadian football version of the Superbowl. It was a great day with the Bears winning, Packers and Vikings losing and the Montreal Alouettes winning the Grey Cup. 

We had an entertaining time with our friends who always make us laugh. It was a great way to wrap up American Thanksgiving weekend. Now to get ready for Christmas. Not.

We have to remind our friend Dean that this is not Quebec Chainsaw Massacre

Duke assumes his usual position in the kitchen

Table setting by Kish and Louis, photo by Danielle

We introduced our Canadian friends to the Pisani way of choosing American wine....we select by the label. This wine also reminds us of our sister-in-law Margie who always served it for holidays...

Two boys hungry for turkey after playing hockey in the basement

Watching the Grey Cup after of those gatherings where it was okay to unbutton pants and get comfortable

the Daily Duke 11.29

Dogs can get turkey hangovers too.

November 28, 2010

And this is a border

There's actually a line in the sand right here...or more appropriately a line in the snow. This is a U.S. border. A small one. No real issues here, no "don't touch my junk" or pat downs. Just a small border crossing between Quebec and Vermont in a quaint town called Troy. We had a meeting at Owl's Head in the Eastern Townships, about two hours away, where Louis will start his Special Olympics skiing in a few weeks. We decided to take a quick drive across the border to check it out since we were so close and had never gone through this crossing. (We like to judge the crossings). Of course we didn't bring back Grey Goose and Patron anything. Really.

the Daily Duke 11.28

We had our first somewhat significant snow fall yesterday morning. On the first snowfall Duke usually runs out as usual in the morning, stops in his tracks and is all "wwwaaaaiiiitttt a minute, what the?" Actually he loves the snow. It usually means he starts leaving his impression on a different plant. The start of winter also means the beginning of oh so many gifts he will leave behind from now until the thaw in March. See, around here, once it starts snowing, it just accumulates, accumulates and accumulates. The snow and other things.

November 26, 2010

The American representing America

Danielle left this morning on her way to New York City (actually they are staying in New Jersey). She's part of the Quebec Rugby team and will play in a 7's tournament on Saturday in the City. We reflected on how strange it is to have this American kid, representing Quebec, playing in America. This is her second time representing Quebec in rugby. She loves the game and is certain to have a nice time visiting NYC for the first time.

When we woke up this morning Montreal was recovering from a bit of a freezing rain storm. Since we're not quite ready for winter and can't find our winter provisions, Louis did some improvising getting the car ready to take Danielle to meet her team.

the Daily Duke 11.26

Duke can't stand it when he knows someone is getting ready to leave.

November 25, 2010


It's an ordinary day in Canada. Just another Thursday. Danielle is at school, but Louis is home since it's a teacher work day in his district. Paul assumed we were having Thanksgiving dinner and at 7 am pulled a 23 pound bird out of the freezer, this morning. That bird is now back in the freezer and exchanged for a smaller, easy to defrost in a few hours, turkey breast that we will have tonight. Louis is more excited about the New Orleans/Cowboys match up this afternoon and Duke is happy to have most of us home.

A few things we are thankful for today....

  • Everyone is healthy
  • Google translate
  • The ice maker Paul got for father's day
  • We live in a great city, great country
  • Teachers who are doing the best they can for a boy with an extenstive I.E.P.
  • Acceptable healthcare
  • The Bears are having a decent season
  • Our needy, but loyal dog Duke
  • Finding Special Olympics in Quebec
  • Our new friends in Canada and our old friends too
  • The firewood delivery that arrived as our last log was burning this afternoon
  • The boy who helped unload the firewood while his sister went to school on American Thanksgiving

November 24, 2010

Canadian sense of humor, or humour?

CBC This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Randy Quaid Video | The News is

We've said it before...Canadian TV is the best. If it's not making news in the US, Actor Randy Quaid is trying to seek refuge in Canada. This clip from the show This Hour has 22 Minutes is the best.

November 23, 2010

Sort of thinking about Thanksgiving

We know there's lots of hoopla in the U.S. getting ready for Thanksgiving...airport security, snow storms, fresh or frozen, the typical holiday conversations. It's not a holiday (or holiday week) here in Canada. Our Thanksgiving was in October. Danielle has school on Thursday and Louis happens to have a teacher's ped day that day so he will be home. Everything is open and it's business as usual. It will be our third American Thanksgiving in Canada. How time flies.

Tonight we went into the city to a bookstore near McGill University to hear the hilarious author David Sedaris do a reading and book signing. The store was packed and it was hard to even see Sedaris. Fortunately, we did hear him as he read from his journal. Most of it went over Louis' head, thankfully. I waited to try and get my books signed when Paul and the kids went down the street to a diner. It was a great chance to chat with some of the people in line, most of them students at McGill. Two of them were American "girls" from the Boston area who chose to come to McGill over U.S. schools. As we've written in this blog before, McGill is a bargain, even for Americans. These girls are paying 26K a year for tuition and room and board, helping make their decision easy. They love Montreal and are happy with their decision. And they love David Sedaris.

One of my favorite essays is "Jesus Shaves" (google it and you can read it or listen on This American Life). I read it long before we moved to French-speaking Quebec and reading it again brings it to a whole new level. It's a very entertaining narrative about his French class while he was in Paris. It's a funny essay detailing the way things can get lost in translation, especially when it comes to religion and holidays. So funny! Check it out.

During the question and answer period one person asked Sedaris what he was doing for Thanksgiving. He's American,  from a very entertaining household, but now lives most of the time in Paris when he's not on the road. He paused for a moment after the question was asked, trying to remember what day it was since he had no idea where he was going to be on Thursday. He admitted that he hasn't really celebrated that holiday in years. I can see how that could happen. It is easy to get into the routine of whatever country you live in, even if it is only an hour or so from the border. Of course Sedaris had to elaborate about how he hates to travel during the holidays anyway because of all the airport issues and and amateur travelers. He did recall though how he has to go to Utah this weekend and of course everyone there has "like 8 kids" so travel will be a real pain in the ass.

So, for this week anyway, we're thankful not to be in any airports.

November 22, 2010

A beautiful city

Montreal truly is a beautiful city. This photo was taken while sitting in traffic on the Champlain bridge...a bridge across the the Saint Lawrence River. Montreal is an island, so the only way to get to "the island" is obviously by bridge. The "Pont" Champlain is the busiest bridge in Canada. It's also, shall I say, aged.

Regardless of the age and condition (I say this to myself each and every time I cross the bridge), it is a magical drive to see the city...especially at night. It's a really cool place to live, rickety bridges and all.

November 16, 2010

Annoying gas

The title should read annoying gas prices. Imagine driving by a station yesterday and thinking "gee, what a bargain, gas is $1.08/litre, I should fill up." Then you don't, drive by a gas station the next morning and see this. And there's little explanation.

We're patient people (sometimes). We like Quebec and Canada. But geez...the price of gas is ANNOYING. It can fluctuate 10-20 cents per LITRE over night. If there are almost four litres of gas to a can do the math. We often joke about how price spikes like this would not be tolerated. 

Needless to say, when we do travel to the states, we think gas is a bargain.

November 13, 2010

the Daily Duke 11.13

Duke wasn't about to miss out on all the fall clean up fun today. When else is his family outside for five hours finding balls and all sorts of things for him to play with? Now, if he could learn how to rake and bag leaves, he would really earn his kibble. 

It's beginning to look a lot like winter

The weather today was certainly not winter-like, but the signs of winter are here. Literally. These driveway markers are multiplying like Republican house seats. Different snow plow companies get permits for driveway plowing and once you have paid the bill, up front, they put these markers at the bottom of the driveway so employess know which driveways to plow after a storm....up to several times a day.  It seems like a luxury for us as we tend to be more "do-it-yourselfers" but, with the amount of snow we can get, it's worth every Canadian penny.

Speaking of "do-it-yourselfers"....Paul insists on cleaning the gutters himself, along with help from the kids. Me? I look up and thank God we have good healthcare coverage.

November 10, 2010

It's Veterans' Week in Canada -- yes a week. I'm so impressed with how Canada honors veterans. This video has been airing on Canadian Television for about a month. It stops me in my tracks each time I hear the opening music.

November 7, 2010

The parade I saw on accident

Danielle wanted to go watch a rugby game today (now, that's a statement I wouldn't have said two years ago). I opted to drop her off and grab some coffee in the quaint town of St. Anne de Bellevue near John Abbott college where the game was being held. I was enjoying my coffee and paper when I heard a band and saw the parade, not knowing it was being held in honor of Veterans' week. Sometimes the best plan is to have no plans, and it was touching to watch the modest parade and all the veterans and families at the brief celebration. Plus, it was a beautiful fall day in Montreal. The photos need little explanation...

The high school band was from Royal West Academy in the city of Montreal. While the duct tape on this
 tuba -- a very well used tuba by the looks of it -- seemingly did the trick, it kind of pissed me off.
The school needs a tuba, please.

November 6, 2010

How to dress for a Toronto Maple Leafs game

Louis and Paul are in Toronto this weekend to meet up with their buddies Liam (pictured) and Mark (from Chicago) for a weekend of sports. This is how to dress for a Toronto Maple Leafs game...and they're playing the Sabres.

Thanks Crooks & Liars

Well, not all crooks and liars, but the website C&L ( We had an unusual amount of traffic the other day on our blog and I didn't know why until I discovered that a link was posted on Crooks & Liars in Mike's Blog Round-up! The description'll see...but it was in reference to the day after the election and some satire in the Daily Duke posting.

November 5, 2010

the Daily Duke 11.5

Another bad iPhone photo. You'll notice the Milkbones in the background. Duke decided to help
 himself to half the box when I made a quick stop at the Post Office. 
Once again, Duke was a great distraction while crossing the border from the U.S. when we went for a quick trip to stimulate the economy. U.S. Border people don't ask too many questions when we cross over. If an American with Quebec plates says they are going to Plattsburgh for the day they know that means they are avoiding unreasonable prices and sales taxes for the same products window shopping. 

However, the Canadian Border Patrol did ask for "papers please" for Duke. Unfortunately, I didn't have up-to-date papers, but they let him into the country anyway. Caesar Milan (a.k.a. The Dog Whisperer) did not have the same luck while traveling into Ontario for his tour this week. He uses a Pit Bull "Junior" in his show and Pit Bulls are forbidden anywhere in the Province. Even the Dog Whisperer couldn't get an exception. Perhaps if he had done that "sssshhhhttttttt" sound he makes with dogs, but on the Border Patrol dude, he would have gotten in. 

November 3, 2010

the Daily Duke 11.3

Duke is tired today. He stayed up too late watching U.S. election returns last night and took two Benedryl this morning so that he could go back to sleep get away from it all. He's a bit worried about the state of things in the States and hopes the country is not taking a step backwards since he will be moving back to the U.S. at some point. He's especially hoping the Petcare human health care reform is not reversed since his family has gotten used to Canadian health care.

November 1, 2010

"I'm almost fluent" word of the day 11.1

And speaking of news and politics...the word today --


"false, fake"

Is it over?

We do get U.S. television stations. Sometimes I wish we didn't, especially the last month with these elections. A click of the remote can have the American living in Canada just trying to find Modern Family, land on a U.S. station and say, "WTF?" When you're not subject to 24/7 political ads in Canada and suddenly catch U.S. coverage, it's hard to distinguish fact from fiction, comedy from tragedy or satire from news. (With our cable television package we do get stations from the Boston area, as well as Seattle /Vancouver).

Lately, we prefer to watch Canadian T.V. And this N.P.R. hoopla? Canada spends A LOT more on public broadcasting, per capita. CBC provides amazing programming...from news to entertainment and of course Hockey Night in Canada. Wow, how socialist forward-thinking of Canada to spend that much in tax dollars to fund public broadcasting. It's not likely Canadians would be too happy if Hockey Night was interrupted for fundraising events. "Become a member today and get a George Forman Grill", wouldn't work.

Heck we get some of our best information about Canadian politics from Rick Mercer and 22 Minutes. (go to Imagine....government supported programming where these satirists/comedians/pundits are allowed to make fun of the government? It would be like if a mellow version of SNL aired on PBS. Rick Mercer had perhaps the the funniest skit on his show several years ago. He had a "sleep over" at Stephen Harper's house (the Prime Minister). Imagine Jon Stewart having a sleep over at the Bush White House.

There's a movement in Canada of a group that wants to bring a Canadian version of Faux Fox news up north. It's not being well received at all. Most Canadians don't want that sort of nastiness (their words, not mine for a change) on the Canadian airwaves. They don't like all the yelling. They yell in Parliament but it's not hateful. (we do get U.S. Fox news on our cable programming)

“The absolutely last thing this country needs,” fumed long-time CBC reporter and commentator Don Newman for CBC. “In the U.S., “ Newman wrote, “Fox News has been hugely polarizing. It specializes in drive-by attacks and misrepresentations, and is positively Orwellian at times, claiming to be “fair and balanced” while implying that its competitors aren’t…”Newman says that when Tenecyke told him in 2003 that Canada “needed a Fox News Channel of its own,” he wouldn’t speak to the conservative Teneycke again for four years. (Teneycke is the person trying to bring Fox News North to Canada).

All this being said, there are people who want "Fox News North," or it wouldn't be so controversial. Not so much in Quebec, but in other parts of Canada that tend to be more conservative. The issue will be whether it's funded by the government like they fund CBC.

This past weekend a group of random Americans gathered at a bar in Montreal to watch the Jon Stewart rally. We went, although Paul and Louis had to leave for basketball and Danielle was in a life guarding class so Kish stayed behind and enjoyed some beverages and watched the three hour program. Montreal TV stations were there interviewing people about why they where there and it was most interesting to hear some of the responses. Some of these people looked as if they came to Canada in 1968 and well, just decided not to leave. Sort of like what Randy Quaid is doing now. Please take him back.

Back to the elections...

Canadians are interested for many reasons in the U.S. elections. Some people are even having actual gatherings to watch the returns. We often think Canadians are more interested in U.S. politics than their own. And yet, from our perspective, Canadian politics can be oh so entertaining, and without as much mudslinging. And for that we are thankful. It doesn't really matter that much anyway....we pay the taxes but we can't vote in Canada.

From our local English language paper....

Democracy: Going, going, gone

OCTOBER 30, 2010

Our American friends will find themselves, Wednesday morning, with the most expensive Congress money can buy. The last-minute tsunami of campaign spending gives Canadians still another reason to feel smug -we really do handle this better here. But the orgy of spending in Congressional races can have negative consequences for us.

U.S. candidates are burning through a record sum this year, over $2 billion. That's 10 per cent more than in 2008, and there's not even a presidential election this year.

Many representatives elected Tuesday will start Wednesday to raise money for their 2012 races. And far too often, "raising money" is a euphemism for "selling your vote." Literally taking bribes is still fairly rare, as far as anyone knows, but legislators do sell their votes, in a sense, to raise campaign funds: They decide to vote for the positions advocated by special-interest lobbyists; those interests then make donations.

Worse, much of the money goes for poisonous negative ads, which will be unavoidable on Plattsburgh and Burlington TV this weekend. These are almost always shameful over-or mis-statements, tailored to create the impression that the other candidate is a bigot, a dupe, a fanatic, a near-criminal, a class enemy, and/or a moron. Then people wonder why respect for politicians is so low.

Part of the problem is that members of Congress are free of party constraint. Where Canadian MPs risk losing various perks or even official party renomination if they buck their leaders, Congress is in a sense 535 independents, each one taking his own position on each issue -and often raising more or less money depending on what those positions are.

Sometimes the special interests want protection against Canadian competition, or more pressure put on Canada to comply with this or that U.S. policy. There's an obvious danger there for us. But there's another risk, too: Sharp left-right polarization, and the resulting big swings in control of the House or Senate or both, make it very hard for Canadian governments and companies to predict U.S. policy. A boisterous and unpredictable neighbour can make you awfully nervous.

As if Congressional politics weren't already dysfunctional, Supreme Court and regulatory rulings this year permit almost unlimited "outside money" -from outside a district, from outside the scope of laws governing party finance, and in practice even from outside the country -in campaigns since this is considered legitimate free speech.

This has resulted in parachute drops of over $250 million of such money. Some candidates have been amazed to see their opponents suddenly sharply attacked in ads from nationwide industry groups or unions or, worse, by mysterious spenders disguised behind some shapeless label like "Citizens United." The House has already passed legislation requiring disclosure of the sources of such money; the Senate has not. Usefully, tracks what it can of such spending.

It's a mess. You know your system needs work when your Congress can be bought by anonymous bidders, like old master paintings at an art auction.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...