Day 40 – To Mask or Not to Mask? The Question of the day


Here in Quebec, the likelihood that wearing a mask in public will someday soon be mandatory is getting closer and closer to reality.

There is talk of opening day cares and elementary schools – not because the virus is under control (it’s most definitely NOT) – but because so many parents need to be able to go back to work, and that can’t happen until there is some kind of day care for younger kids.

Today they opened schools outside of Montreal – and we are all waiting to see how that goes. The schools that have been open are splitting schedules to keep class sizes small, and doing everything they can to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

But conversations with friends who are teachers reveals how fraught feelings are in this regard. Parents have been told that they don’t ‘HAVE’ to send kids back – it’s optional. So my teaching friends are wondering – what do they do with a kid who doesn’t finish – fill in the blank – grade? Pass them anyway. I’m guessing yes.

Anyway – Jokes about masking are making the rounds of the internet – and I share my favourites below:

Facemasks for Dummies (from my sister)
If we all run around naked and someone pees on you, you get wet right away. If you are wearing pants, some pee will get through, but not as much. So you are better protected.
But if the guy who pees also is wearing pants, the pee stays with him and you do not get wet.
Is that clear enough?

And to share some more Jokes.. Always a pleasure – here you go…

If you answer the phone with “Hello, you’re on the air!” Most telemarketers will quickly hang up…

Whe one door closes and another door opens, you are probably in prison.

To me ‘drink responsibly’ means don’t spill it.

When I say “the other day”, I could be referring to any time between yesterday and 50 years ago.

Interviewer: “So, tell me about yourself”. Me: “I’d rather not.. I kinda want this job”

I remember being able to get up without making sound effects…. Good times.

Remember, if you lose a sock in the dryer, it comes back as a Tupperware lid that doesn’t fit any of your containers… (This explains a lot!)

Sixty might be the new forty, but 9:00 is the new midnight

I finally got 8 hours of sleep. It took me three days, but whatever.

I run like the winded.

When someone asks what I did over the weekend, I squint and ask, “Why, what did you hear??”

When you do squats, are your knees supposed to sound like a goat chewing on an aluminum can stuffed with celery?

I don’t mean to interrupt people. I just randomly remember things and get really excited.

And finally…

It’s the start of a brand new day, and I’m off like a herd of turtles…

Signing off to see about buying masks – The Soup Lady

Day 39 – Sometimes Lucky is better than Smart


AKA – “Bridge was their Passion. Then People started to Die”.

That’s the title of a NY Times piece by Jack Healy published on April 29 – it’s the story of how Covid-19 did a number on a Bridge Club in Denver. Starting with one sick 83 year old (who died), contact tracing showed she’d come in close contact with 100 other people at the bridge club. Funerals, weddings, Choir Practice and family gatherings then provided for an uncontrolled spread of the virus . That Bridge Club became Ground zero for Covid-19 in that section of Denver.

And there – but for Luck – certainly not Smarts – go I.

I love playing bridge – and I have two favorite bridge clubs. For those wondering what a Bridge Club might be – it’s a place that holds regularly scheduled competitive (or not so competitive) games of bridge.

To play bridge at a club, you sit at tables of 4. Trays – called boards – holding the cards are circulated from table to table – and every 3 boards the pair sitting E/W get up and change tables. In effect – every person is exposed to every other person – well under any Social Distancing measure. And worse – the cards are held by every other person sitting in your direction at the match.

Plus – there are always snacks – with folks gathering to help themselves.

To make sure a Bridge Club is a perfect storm for Covid-19 – most bridge players are seniors, many in frail health, lots with compromised immune systems.

So if one person had contracted the disease – every person in the room would have almost certainly been exposed.

So why the Lucky? When I’m in Montreal – I play bridge almost daily at our club – and our club is located in one of the epi-centres for the disease in Montreal.

So why didn’t I get exposed? Because as you know from reading my blog – I was in St. Croix celebrating my husband’s 70th birthday. There’s only one tiny bridge club on the island, and with my kids there – playing bridge wasn’t happening for me. So I just never went.

My last day playing bridge at my club was March 7. Just before the Covid-19 fan hit the fire. Lucky – not smart!

Back to the story by Jack Healy. He reports that the 83 year old woman went to a sectional held at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center from Feb 27 to March 3. Over 150 people were there – and no one was taking any precautions.

And bridge is the ultimate of social games. You snack, you chat, you handle cards handled by other people, you handle the boards, you all touch the machines that record the scores. It’s almost impossible to imagine how a bridge club wouldn’t be a hot bed of Covid-19 infection.

And in the Colorado Springs Bridge Center – our game and our lack of concern cost 4 members their lives, and at least 25 others have spent over a month fighting symptoms of the virus.

So what of the future of bridge clubs? Right now, everyone is playing bridge on line – and our local clubs are setting up ‘Virtual’ clubs so that some income will come in – they still must pay the rent if they rent space.

But in the long run – hand sanitizer isn’t going to work. We’ll all have to wear masks, not come in sick or even with mild symptoms, we’ll have to have on gloves, and I’m not sure how to spread us further apart easily – bridge tables are generally 4’ squares at the most.

My guess – Bridge Clubs may well become a think of the past. And that’s a shame. For many going to the Bridge Club for a daily game gave their lives meaning and structure. Something to do when the weather wasn’t great – or even if the weather was good.

And for those seriously frail – it was safe. You could avoid moving too much by sitting North/South, you could even arrive and depart in a wheel chair. And your friends were there. You could gossip a bit while waiting for the game to start, you could share Grand-kid stories.

Bridge Clubs – RIP – a victim of Covid-19

Signing off to play bridge on-line – The Soup Lady

Day 35 – My Squirrels are wearing cleats


My view includes a long thin section of garden with a 6’ high wooden fence, a stone path way, a bird feeding station, and several ever green shrubs. There are also several large trees.

I mention this so you can appreciate how Squirrel friendly my home is! I have never managed to get an accurate count on the number of Squirrels that call my home – home, but I’m sure it’s well over a dozen

There are certainly several identifiably unique ones. There’s one with the rat like tail – I have no idea what happened to him, but trust me – he’s identifiable!

There’s also the Sex Pot. This Squirrel loves to sit on a fence post and whirl his big fat bushy tail around like a stripper whirling a set of beads. Quite the show, and I’m guessing it’s won him many mates.

I have a pair that love playing tag up and down the trees – they even play hide-and-seek. One will go 4 square against a tree – on the far side from the other one. After a few seconds – the seeker – who I think was peeking – always finds the first one. It’s not much of a game, but they do seem to enjoy it.

But the real fascination in my yard for the Squirrels is my bird feeding station. It consists of a long pole, a RACCOON Baffle, and then right now I have two feeders and a Geranium Pot hanging from the hooks above the Baffle.

For those who don’t know – a Raccoon Baffle is designed to prevent Raccoons from attacking the feeders directly. Fortunately, I don’t have Raccoons in my yard, but I have very very tenacious Squirrels. They can and will do anything that they can think of to get to my feeders.

I admit to wondering why all the effort. The birds gleefully toss the seeds that they don’t want onto the ground – so the Squirrels are hardly starving. But I guess the Squirrels figure that they too should be able to feast from the source.

One time I saw a Squirrel make a flying leap from a branch of a tree about 20 feet above the feeder. He missed. He never tried that again.

Yesterday I saw a Squirrel trying to make his way below the windows on my board, balance on the thin edge that runs along the outside, hoping to get opposite the feeders and from there navigate the 4 foot leap. I really thought he might make it. He got around 3 of the window edges, balancing super carefully and grabbing hold madly. But when he tried to get past the 4th edge, he slipped and plummeted the 4’ to the garden. Haven’t seen him trying again…

But I have my eyes peeled. I don’t think those guys will ever give up.

I have caught them sitting on my porch, glazing at me thru the door – clearly wondering why I haven’t been filling the feeder recently. They are almost as hard to resist as the two Cardinal families that call my yard home, or the very noisy, very large Blue Jays that love to announce to the world that I’ve filled the feeders and all is good in the world.

I shall continue to keep my eyes peeled for Squirrel oddities – but for right now – they are signalling that yet again the feeders are empty.

Hey – not my fault guys – you ate it!

Signing off to fill the feeders – The Soup Lady

Day 34 – Golden Finches are definitely bird brains!


I love feeding the birds – as useless and silly as this seems in the midst of a crisis of this proportion – I still get a serious kick out of watching them eye the feeders, size up their opportunity – then soar or flutter or stumble in.

The Crackles are a nuisance bird – they arrive in flocks and are picky eaters. I think the Squirrels might have them on speed dial, because the pickings left on the ground after the flock departs are enough to keep all my Squirrels stuffed for at least one day.

But the silliest birds have to be the aptly named Golden Finches. They are tiny birds, delicate and brilliantly coloured gold. I was convinced that if I put out a feeder filled with Thistle, apparently their favourite food – they would come.

So I did. I’m as house bound as everyone else – and there’s not much else to do. A friend of mine did the shopping (I’m not supposed to expose myself unnecessarily). I ended up with both Thistle – and a Thistle feeder.

Ok – so I filled the feeder – and fussed around trying to put it in the right spot. I wanted to be able to see the birds enjoying the Thistle, and I wanted the larger bird feeder to be near enough to enjoy the birds there as well.

I was delighted and amazed when the first Golden Finch arrived. He checked out the Thistle feeder. He checked out the larger feeder. And he left without eating.

Foo. But maybe he’ll be back? With friends?

Day later – he does return – alone unfortunately. But this time, he tries the food in both feeders – spurns the Thistles to munch down on the seeds and peanuts in the larger bird feeder.

You dumb bird. I bought that Thistle for you – what are you thinking?

Apparently he’s thinking that the food in the larger feeder is better tasting – because he came back – with a friend – and they both proceed to enjoy the tasty morsels in the larger feeder – completely ignoring my so carefully bought and filled Thistle feeder.

Bird Brains!

Signing off to watch her birds – again – The Soup Lady

Day 21 – I’m getting desperate for laughter – so here’s some we can share!


My Daughter-in-law shared these with me – and I’m sharing with you. And you can feel free to share with your friends.

We all need some laughter in our lives right now.

Did you know that on the Canary Islands there is not one canary? And on the Virgin Isles? Same thing – not one canary there either!

If Cats worked at Home Depot – they’d say: “Welcome – go find it yourself”

I’m glad I learned about parallelograms in Hight School Math instead of how to do my taxes. It comes in so handy during Parallelogram Season.

You drop something when you were younger, you just pick it up. When you’re older and you drop something, you stare at it for a bit contemplating if you actually need it anymore.

One way to find out if you are old is to fall down in front of a lot of people. If they laugh, you’re still young. If they panic and start running to you, you’re old.

Musings of a dog: Look at my mom outside picking up my poop. She had better wash her hands before she even thinks about touching me.

I find, these days, that most of my conversations start out with: Did I tell you this already? Or What was I going to say?

Instead of a sign that says ‘do not disturb’ I need one that says ‘already disturbed – proceed with caution!”

The main function of the little toe on your foot is to make sure that all the furniture in the house is in place.

I finally did it! Bought a new pair of shoes with memory foam insoles. No more forgetting why I walked into the kitchen.

You never appreciate what you have till it’s gone. Toilet paper is a good example.

Heads up on this one – if you are still pro-Trump – skip to the bottom… But honestly – it’s irresistibly funny….

If Trump were Captain of the Titanic
– There isn’t any iceberg
– There was an iceberg but it’s in a totally different ocean
– The iceberg is in this ocean but it will melt very soon
– There is an ice berg but we didn’t hit the iceberg
– We hit the iceberg, but the damage will be repaired very shortly
– The iceberg is a Chinese iceberg
– We are taking on water but every passenger who wants a lifeboat can get a lifeboat, and they are beautiful lifeboats
– Look, passengers need to ask nicely for the lifeboats if they want them
– We don’t have any lifeboats, we’re not lifeboat distributors
– Passengers should have planned for icebergs and brought their own lifeboats
– I really don’t think we need that many lifeboats
– We have lifeboats and they’re supposed to be our lifeboats, not the passenger’s lifeboats
– The lifeboats were left onshore by the last captain of this ship
– Nobody could have foreseen the iceberg

And my personal favourite ‘Tumpism..”:

– I’m an expert on icebergs. I’ve got lots of friends who deal with icebergs. Some of the best. Really good ice people who know ice and their forms of berginess…

Signing off to go search for more things to laugh about in these troubling and frustrating times – and hoping that you and yours are safe and healthy – The Soup Lady

Where are you in the Global Economy?


Ok – I know – strange question from an admittedly old Grannie living in Canada – but I went to a ‘Chat Up’ at my local Theatre company yesterday, and the play they were discussing was ‘Shoplifters’ by Morris Panych. And during the discussion, the question of where we fit in the Global Economy came up.

I want to start with an awesome link – Are you in the Global Middle Class – published by the Washington Post in January 2019. So it’s up to date – and seriously interesting. You can quickly determine where an income of say – $59,000 US would put you relative to almost every country in the world. For those of us in Canada – who struggle with outrageous taxes – trust me, this is an eye opener.

Check it out.

Shoplifters is a very funny, very understandable, very mental challenging play about 4 people – 2 security guards, and 2 ‘shoplifters’. The guards are male, the shoplifters female, and the crime obvious. But how they deal with the crime – not so obvious. It is clear from the very beginning that none of these 4 people are in the upper class. And as the play proceeds – it is made clear that none of them are in the middle class either. So the question arises, what exactly is the ‘crime’?

While morally I can’t condone shoplifting, I think it just makes the prices higher for the rest of us, it is hard to avoid appreciating the protagonists point of view. As one of the security guards admit – I’ve never had a steak that good! And all 4 of them, as are most of us as well, are primary concerned about personally doing better. How to ‘do better’ is of course the real question. Is being a coat check girl for the rest of your life really ‘living’? Alma, the older and more experienced shoplifter, argues that this is not living. And I’m thinking that the folks in the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ group would agree with her.

We all want the very best for our kids and grand-kids. That goes without saying. Would I want them to think that shoplifting was ok if they couldn’t afford anything better? Or would I want them to try to find a way to afford that something better? I naturally think I’d go for the latter, but so far I haven’t really been faced with that choice.

There was a time in my life when I couldn’t afford steak. I could only afford a box of Mac and Cheese for dinner every night. But I always knew that this time would end – and maybe that optimism is what kept me from shoplifting. I don’t know for sure, one way or the other.

Bottom line – this is a great play – do try to see it when it shows up in a local theatre near you. And do check out that website. See if you in the global middle class – and where you fit in your local economy as well. Then consider the folks below you. How do they make ends meet?

Signing off to write another blog – about another topic discussed at that Chat Up – The Soup Lady

PS: if you follow my travels – my next trip with the Intrepid Traveller is to Japan – so if you’ve wonder if a low cost trip to one of the world most expensive countries is possible – stay tuned!

Zastrozzi, Bar Karpra and Bus Stops


3 Plays in 3 nights – color me Crazy! And color me lucky that I live in a city with so much relatively inexpensive live theatre! What fun it is to be able to pay under $15 to see great theatre.

And I’m not even a professional reviewer.

A statement that some of my readers might find disingenuous at the least. But marching on as always – I will attempt to both tease and torture my readers into keeping their eyes peeled for any of these to show up at a theatre near you!

First stop – Bar Karpra the Squirrel Hunter – which is a fringe winner trying way to hard to be a real piece of theatre. Cute for fringe, and not badly acted, and certainly well produced and staged – it’s a play in search of a strong story line. Unfortunately for the audience – it doesn’t find it. I read a review of this play that tried to defend this lack of point by describing it as a poem – well – it’s a badly written one then.

The staging however was quite cool – and I loved how the flowing side screens filled the darkened space with just the hit of forest green and white as the seasons changed. I also found some of the physical tricks appealing – not realizing until the very end that two of the ‘flat’ surfaces in fact were padded. Neatly done. But good staging does not a great play make.

Fast forward 2 nights to Bus Stops. Put on by one of our professional theatre groups – and costing the viewer significantly more than Bar Karpra – it suffered from many of the same ills. And given that the same set designer created both productions – I suppose it makes sense that both should be more about glorious set design than about story.

Too bad I care more about story.

Bus Stops – being far more polished and professional – is perhaps the bigger disappointment. If we pay more – we expect more. And Yes – Bus Stop delivered more – more tumbling, more special effects, more surprising bits and pieces – but still the lack of directed story line was so distracting that it took away from the whole.

Too often I was left wondering – why did that actor just do that? Why does that one seem so angry, that one so bored. We know from the start that there has been a tragedy – but we don’t know until the end exactly what happened – altough there is plenty of opportunity to guess.

And then there were the cute bits of switching clothing. Neatly done and very interesting – but how does dancing with shirts contribute to the story line? Are we to understand that each person is representing several other people? Ok – I get that. But did they have to dance with the shirts to prove it? Weird.

The set of course is another story. It’s a bus that has been bombed – and the frame work provides the actors with places to swing, hang, fold, fall, and pose. As time goes by – parts of the bus are dismantled – I’m guessing to show how the story is unfolding. Neat stuff – but just not quite enough to make up for the lack of a clearly developed and fully realized story.

Ah – but then we have Zastrozzi. Stunning, fabulous, intriguing, stimulating, challenging, exciting, fun, entralling, exciting, and well worth paying to see. As you probably guessed – I loved Zastrozzi.

It is primarly a fight fest – the 5 actors (3 men, 2 women) fight with everything on stage – bottles, fists, palms, whips, rapiers, and knives. There’s sexual tension – including a ‘rape’ scene where the two participants are sitting near each other – but never touch. There are several extended sword duels – with plenty of dramatic flourishes to keep the result of the duels in questions.

The set itself is almost completely empty – a trunk is dragged from side to side to represent various pieces of furniture – but that is all the set there is. And yet the lack of a set is not a problem. It doesn’t distract from the play – it actually contributes to the feeling of emptiness that all the actors suffer from.

And yes – there is a story. It’s not an easy simple story, and I’m not going to even attempt to summarize it. Enough to say that all the fights make sense within the larger pictures. And isn’t that what we want – things to make sense when seen as a whole.

Zastrozzi is not a new play – it was first performed in 1977 – so I suspect that it is likely to end up being staged elsewhere. But for now it’s on at the Mainline until March 20th, 2016. If you miss it – you will be missing something grand.

Signing off to see even more theatre – The Soup Lady.

Not to backtrack – But Montreal is home to some amazingly fun Festivals!


Ok – I know – I am part way thru a trip in Business Class to Bali – and I’m writing this while sitting in the Air France Executive Lounge enjoying free drinks, free food, and comfy chairs in Paris. So a blog on the Festival of Lights in Montreal is going to appear out of the Blue.

But bare with me on this.

Montreal – in February – is cold and dreary. And the PTB (Powers that be) in the city decided that having a festival in February – which didn’t conflict with Mardi Gras (March), New Years (January), Jazz (June), Laughter (July), Graffait (who knows), etc. was a great idea. And thus the Festival of Lights was born.

At the end of the Festival – which runs for 10 days of entertainment and restaurant craziness – is Nuit Blanche. Also not a new idea – or even an idea unique to Montreal – but with typical half French/half English style, organization and verbe – springs to life in our Beautiful City. The basic idea – keep the lights on all night – with free entertainment in basically every venue in the city that can host a crowd – churches, museums, bars, you name it – there’s something happening! Frozen Pianos, Casual Art, Singers, Jugglers, Musicians, Art happenings, Art tours – the city bumps and grinds and parties till Dawn.

For The Intrepid Traveller and I – it’s an occassion to stay up just a bit later than normal – and its a time to take in (for free) a show that we would never ever even consider attending. Our selection criteria is simple – has to be inside (we get cold), has to have seats (we can’t stand for even 5 minutes, let alone hours), and it has to be multi-lingual – my french is horrid.

Several Nuit Blanche ago – we discovered the caberet at the National Theatre School. They take a long thin space, fill it with chairs – put performers in front and in the middle of the space – and just go at it. The first year they must have had more funding – because there were at least 20 performers. Each year the number of performers has decreased – but that’s been more than made up for by the quality of the acts.

This year was the best ever for quality – a group of 4 young men who cloned the harmonies of the Beatles – in French. They looked, acted, and played the parts – even if the songs weren’t familiar – the joy and abandonment felt absolutely right. We loved it.

What we actually loved even more was a performance of Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucassion Chalk Circle. This was put on in the big theatre of the Theatre School – by the junior professional and extremely talented students there. As is typical with the Theatre School – no expense was spared on costume, set design, and quality of performance. These kids are not interested in impressing me – it’s the Montreal andToronto Theatre folks who come to see and hire that they want to amaze. We’re hangers on that profit from the opportunity to see the future in performance today.

So – enough on the Festival of Lights. It’s over for another year – but listen up if you aren’t from Montreal – this is a reason to come to our fair city. And if you do live in Montreal ask yourself – are you missing something amazing?

Signing off to go back to blogging about travel – The Soup Lady

World’s Best Mini Garden


Ok – maybe not World’s best – but definitely Montreal Island’s Best….

Wonder where the Hobbit Hole goes? MontrealMadame.com

Wonder where the Hobbit Hole goes? MontrealMadame.com

I adore landscaping – particularly landscaping that combines fun, beauty and great design inspiration! So imagine my surprise when I realized that one of the tiny gardens I most often drive past has had a complete redesign to make it one of my all time favorites!

The location of the mini-garden in questions is a park in Dorval – at the intersection of Fenelon Boulevard and Dawson Avenue. The cool thing is that if you are taking Dawson – you drive straight into the garden!

And this is not a garden – it’s a hobbit hole – with an Ent sitting nearby admiring his toes. There are mushroom trees – a walkway to the round door of the hobbit hole – in fact the only thing missing is Bilbo Baggins.

To create the Ent – the designer has taken a tree – and given it eyes, hands, a mouth, legs and arms. But it’s not just a ‘boring’ Ent – it’s a living breathing Ent. I particularly like the way flowers twine around his arm.

Ent beside a Hobbit Hole in Dorval Garden, Quebec - MontrealMadame.com

Ent beside a Hobbit Hole in Dorval Garden, Quebec – MontrealMadame.com

To the right of the hobbit hole are these majorly glorious mushroom trees sporting bright green leaves.

I’m not alone in admiring this beautiful garden – in addition to admiring my pictures – check it out on-line.

Dorval’s Hobbit Garden is definitely worth the drive by – if not the stop and take pictures! And say hi to the Ent when you visit!

Bright Green Mushroom trees near the Hobbit Hole in Dorval Gardens, Quebec - MontrealMadame.com

Bright Green Mushroom trees near the Hobbit Hole in Dorval Gardens, Quebec – MontrealMadame.com