Best new wine – Ever!

Best new wine – Ever!

A single glass of this new wine could mean a peaceful, uninterrupted night’s sleep. New wine for Seniors, I kid you not!

Clare Valley vintner in South Australia, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic. It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night. The new wine will be marketed as


Yes – I am staring at you

Confession time – we are a one car family, and I’m not the one with the car. That means I’m often on the bus/metro going to and fro. Which I love. It gives me time to think – and right now – it is giving me time to ‘blog’.

I love watching people – and yes, sometimes I stare. So when you spot someone kinda watching you – ever wonder what they are thinking?

If it’s me – I’m wondering if you like the music you are listening to thru those ever-present headphones, I wonder if your blue nail polish goes with that purple scarf. I wonder what is in your shopping bag – and if it came from the store that it says it did. I wonder how you can lift that big purse or heavy-looking back-pack. I consider your earphones – why are you still wearing earphones that look like ear mufflers when those ear buds give better sound? Must you have a bluetooth in your ear so you look like a cyborg? Or do you want to look like a cyborg – so you wear one? Are you really reading that newspaper – or just looking at the pictures and checking out the headlines? Are you ‘rocking’ your outfit, or did you just throw on anything this morning? Are your shoes/boots unlaced for a reason? Maybe your shoes don’t fit – or maybe it’s a fashion statement. If it’s a fashion statement – what does it say? I’m so cool that if my shoes fall off, it’s not a problem?

I wonder about %’s – What % of the people I see have ear-phones plugged in? (lots) What % are overweight (not so much here in Montreal). What % are young, What % are old, What % are male, What % are female. And why are there so many young people traveling – shouldn’t they be in school? CEJEP or University?

Sometimes I’m just wondering when you last combed your hair. In Montreal, in winter, seeing someones hair is a bit of a treat – we tend to the hat/hood/cover-up motif. So today, with the sun out – most people are letting their hair show – and it’s kinda nice.

And sometimes I’m thinking about the bus – how does the driver always know where to go and where to stop. I was once on a bus that got lost – it was so weird. The passengers were trying to tell the driver he had taken a wrong turn – and to his credit – he owned up to the fact that it was his first time on our route. He really was lost. But I have other questions about the bus – does the driver care if he’s on time? Does he care that I always say thank you and have a good day when I get off? Does she think about the fact that it’s really unusual to have a woman bus driver. Does she sometimes worry for her safety – at night, alone, on the bus, way out in the suburbs? Or is downtown more scary? What would he/she do if there was a fight on the bus? Would it make a difference if it was a he or a she?

So – next time you spot someone staring at you on the bus or in the metro – Smile. If it’s me – I’ll smile back. Promise.

10 Quick tricks for greater Happiness

10 Quick Tricks for Greater Happiness

This list comes in part from one of my favorite magazines – AARP. No – I’m not joking. I find the content reasonably well researched, and quite interesting. But since not all of us are lucky enough to qualify to get this magazine – I’ll help you out!

Trick 1: Live in the right place. Ok – that’s a bit hard to change if you got it wrong – but you can make things better by taking a daily walk around your neighborhood. Why? Because people with dogs have to take daily walks – and thus are more likely to know their neighbors – and knowing your neighbors makes the place you live a ‘happier’ place in general.

Track 2: Get rid of some of your financial worries. Nothing interferes with happiness like worrying about money – so it’s not a surprise to hear that getting rid of those worries is going to make you happier. Pay down your mortgage a bit faster (even $5 a week mounts up over time), invest in health insurance (one less thing to worry about), and here’s a trick my best friend uses – pay for things with cash. Draw out what you need for the week and make it last. If you run out of money – no shopping till next week.

Trick 3: Don’t waste the best part of the day – the Morning. Study after study has shown that getting a good breakfast (low-fat, but filling) boosts energy through the day, and 30 minutes of exercise every day – even just walking – raises your feelings of well-being for the next 12 hours.

Trick 4: Turn off the TV. There’s nothing all that good on it anyway – and you could spend the same time out meeting your neighbors or at least getting exercise. As a step in the right direction – try moving the TV to a less convenient location – for sure it doesn’t belong in the kitchen. If its harder to watch – you are less likely to do so, right? Of course right!

Trick 5: Call a friend. Every day. Put aside time to chat – it will always make you feel happier.

Trick 6: Fall in love. Ok – maybe not a quick trick – but studies have definitely shown that couples are generally happier than singles plus they live longer. Although I’ve heard comedians joke that it just FEELS longer!

Trick 7: Having a faith – regardless of which one will make you happier. Or at least – it is statistically likely to allow you to live longer. I’m going to guess that having a faith pulls good numbers because it matches some of the other ideas – you make friends, you might even find a match. I’m just guessing on that though.

Trick 8: Make one place in your home a positive place – put up pictures of loved ones – display objects that remind you of happy times. And make the place a hallway that you often go thru or a place you spend lots of time. I put my ‘good feelings’ in my kitchen/eating room. And catching sight always reminds me of things I’ve done that made me happy. The more you see things that make you feel good – the better you’ll feel.

Trick 9: Get a pet. Not again a particularly practical suggestion for everyone – but if you can mange a pet – it does pay back on the increased happiness scale! No pets? No problems – I get my ‘hugs’ from my grand-kids. So much love in small packages – and best of all – you can hand them back for the tough jobs – like doing homework or worrying about how they are doing in school.

Trick 10: Give in order to Get. Studies have shown that people who give tend to be happier. Of course it might be working the other way – happier people tend to be givers. But either way – clearly giving in order to get definitely works on happiness.

So – nothing you probably couldn’t have figured out for yourself – exercise, use your time wisely, deal with the stuff that worries you, and share your feelings with friends – or a pet. The keys to being happier are well within the ability of all of us to find, to hold, to use. So get out there and get happier!

The Clone People – Dawson Studio Wins Again

I do get confused by the Dawson Theatre’s way of describing exactly which group and which class is doing which production. In this specific case – the program credits the 2nd Year Studio – the website ( refers to it as a production by the 4th studio. Honestly – I’m so confused.

But ignoring my confusion as to which group is doing what to whom in the library – the truth is that these productions are a wonderful value for the money. They are ‘pay what you can’ – so essentially free – they are generally excellently directed (the staff at Dawson are clearly of extremely high calibre), and I totally love the idea of seeing young people strut their stuff in front of family and friends.

The play itself is a very good story. You are introduced to a ‘hollywood’ couple – a husband and wife very much in love with each other, a neighbor who is over the hill and over the top, and the ‘managers’ of the couple. The wife, who at the start is on location, suddenly runs away from her location and drives home to hide out. She is complaining of headaches and has serious concerns about some of her staff and what they may have done to her in the past.

Clearly – since the title is “The Clone People” – we’re going to be seeing some clones – and naturally that’s what happens. The cast has a lot of fun switching behaviors to carry the illusion of the clone’d people, with the clear star being the female lead. She ends up having to have 3 different personalities in order to convince us that she’s been ‘clone’d’ – and she does an excellent job.

You don’t go to Dawson to see professional theatre – you go to have an enjoyable night out and maybe to see a play you have never even heard of performed credibly. This one was a winner on all counts.

(I was in the audience on Saturday, March 9th)

2 Words to Avoid when Reading Descriptions of upcoming Theatre Events

As declared several time before, I love theatre – and I’m not particularly picky about what I go to see. if it’s in English – I’m keen to see what’s what.

That said – there are 2 words that when used to describe an upcoming theatrical offering have a tendency to convince me to go elsewhere.

1. Innovative. As in an Innovative look at a story, or an Innovative group of people.

What exactly are we innovating? Theatre is about telling stories – are we not going to be telling a story? Are we going to do without sets, without actors, without costumes? What about theatre are you planning to change? I just can’t see how an innovation is going to better my theatre experience. I suspect you termed it Innovative because you couldn’t think of a better word to describe what you are doing. And that’s really off-putting.

2. Experimental.

This one is really scary – and for many of the same reasons I shy away from Innovative. Are we going to be experimenting with sets? with stories? with the acting. How can you experiment with acting – you do it well, you do it poorly – what kind of experiment is needed?

I’m not afraid of works by new authors, in fact – that’s a lot of fun. But don’t experiment with my time and money – learn how to do it first – then present it to me. I really don’t want to have to suffer thru your experiments

Mi Otro Yo – Kinda weird – some liked it – but not for kids

We were split on this recent offering at Tohu (see my Tohu blog a few days ago – or check out the Tohu website –

For the kids in the audience – the results were rather mixed. And since there were some fairly disturbing parts of the performance – I’m not surprised.

One really neat piece that confused and upset the kids had the two very talented performers moving along a red wall – leaving their hands in place as they went. Cool effect. For a moment you’d have one head – 4 hands – and then a 5th hand would appear holding a sign. Very neat. What upset the kids was that after they were done with this piece – 3 of the ‘hands’ stayed behind. One little kid kept asking her father – but he left his hands…

In another brilliant sketch – the two actors put on a suit of clothes – creating a visual third person composed of the right hand and right leg (acting like a left leg) of one fellow  and the left hand and left leg (acting like a right leg) of the other. I think you’d have to have seen it.

Two people in our group thought the entire piece was awesome – I personally thought that there were brilliant bits – and much less brilliant bits.

Parts I didn’t care for – the tumbling with a book – yes it’s hard to do – but visually boring. And the piece I really found pointless – and way over the top disturbing – the part that involved pretending to kill a chicken – and then having the chicken come to life and ‘eat’ the guy. I guess it might have been good theatre – but I found it upsetting – and very kid-inappropriate.

Wouldn’t go to see them again – bottom line. But it wouldn’t discourage me from going to Tohu later this year when the student’s perform.

“The Matchmaker” – Dawson 3rd Studio students give it all they’ve got – and it’s quite a lot!

I love going to the theatre – you just never ever know what will strike your funny bone – bring a smile to your face – or tears to your eyes.

What I truly love to see, however, is heart and soul on the stage. When the performers do their very best to convince me that this is their very best – I’m pleased, entertained, fascinated, and enthused.

And Dawson Year 3rd Studio Students delivered.

The pay as you go performance of “The MatchMaker” I attended was packed. Every seat in the lovely Dawson theatre was taken. The sets were definitely at Dawson standards – they managed to convince you that you changed location – by just moving bits and pieces around. My favorite ‘directing’ bits were the interludes while the crew moved furniture in the background. In one interesting piece of theatre business – the cast grabbed suitcases, brought them to the ‘train station’ and the proceeded to use them as seats. Some sound effect later – they were off – jiggling down the line – going from the country into the ‘big’ city. Great bit of business – and carefully timed to cover up the set changes.

The performances, as can be expected of studio students, were far from professional quality – but what they lacked in polish, they made up in a keen desire to please the audience.

Like many ‘amateur’ performances I’ve seen and enjoyed – the cast grew stronger and stronger as the evening progressed – and the rousing final act was a delightful farce – enjoyed by everyone. (Thanks Adrienne for the spell check!)

Next  up at Concordia is the 4th Studio students in “The Cone People”.

After just a few years of training – these guys and gals are good. And like their less experienced fellows – generally bring to the stage an enthusiasm for being there that can be lacking in the performances of more jaded professionals.

Prices are great too.

Best Sugaring-Off Spot Ever!

Quebec Sugaring Off

Primitive Wood-Curving showing an old fashioned Sugaring Off

I’ve done sugaring off many many times – and my absolute favorite place is Festin de Campagne & La Cidrerie du Petit Saint-Joseph.

First – an explanation for my non-Quebec Followers. Sugaring Off is a Spring Time ritual here in Quebec. The sap starts to run up and down (up during the day – down at night when it gets cold) in the Maple Trees. People with Maple Stands tap the trees (literally a tap goes into the tree – and when the sap goes up and down – it also flows out the tap either into a bucket (very old-fashioned) or into blue tubes that have a bit of suction in them), gather the sap, boil it down for days – and bingo – Maple Syrup.

Given that 75% or more of the world’s Maple Syrup is produced here in Quebec – you can imagine the vast numbers of trees, taps, and blue hose involved. It’s quite the sight. But that’s not Sugaring Off. As part of the taping, gathering, and boiling tradition – there’s an eating tradition – and that’s Sugaring Off.

Festin de Campagne – despite the fancy name – is one of the traditional cabins snuggled right in a Maple Stand. It’s used only for about a month a year – small, cozy, clearly built by the family, and lacking in any pretension. There’s no petting zoo, no buffet line, no polish. But there is an awesome group of performers – La Famille Laporte – who are completely irresistible – music that you absolutely must dance to. And the food – ah, it’s really about the food.

The meal starts with everyone sitting down on long family style tables – pre-laden with jars of homemade pickles, pickled beets, Coleslaw, and homemade Ketchup. There’s a quart jar of maple syrup per group of 6 – a bottle of fresh milk, and a jug of water. Quickly you get served your choice of vegetable or pea soup – my entire family opted for the pea soup – homemade (like everything else) – with pieces of lard floating among the peas. I added maple syrup – it was delicious.

Next comes the pate – maple syrup infused of course, with fresh bread.

Now the best part – the omelet, ham slices, baked beans, boiled potatoes and my personal – I wait all year to eat these – Grillades de lard or more familiarly called – Oreilles de crisse ( Deep fried pieces of pork jowls – amazingly delicious – and eaten with more maple syrup of course. A quick word about the omelet – I’ve had flat omelets, I’ve had puffy omelets, I’ve had omelets cooked by celebrated chefs, I’ve had omelets made at home – but this omelet is the best I’ve ever eaten. Maybe you can blame the maple syrup – but it’s the puffiest, softest, pillow of an omelet made from eggs you can imagine came from chickens running around on the farm next door.  I’m serious – this is one great omelet.

Did I tell you this is all ‘eat all you want’? I meant to mention that. Want 2nd, want thirds – no problems!

Dessert is a choice of Pudding Chômeur (it’s sweet), Apple Crumble (it’s sweet), or Pancakes (guess what – you add more maple syrup to them too!). You can have one of each if you’d like – or do like my Grand-daughter – just focus on the pancakes!

Then – there’s the Tire. And the dancing. I’m a fan of both – so first I dance to the wonderful music of ‘La Famille Laporte’ till my feet hurt, then I go outside where they are pouring hot maple syrup onto Snow. You stick a Popsicle stick in the rapidly cooling syrup, and twist to make your own lollipop. I had 4. I didn’t count how many my grand-daughters enjoyed – but I know they went down the line more than I did. These ‘lollipops’ are sweet, soft, crunchy, a little warm, a little cold – and completely irresistible.

Eventually you either ride the tractor drawn wagon back to your car – or walk. In our case – we walked slowly – making snow angels as we found our way back to our car – and eventually back to Montreal.

Interesting is trying La Festin de Campagne? You can reach them by phone at 450-623-0687, or try this link:!cabane-a-sucre

It’s no more than a 45 minute drive North West of Montreal – and for a place so ‘back-woods’, relatively easy to find. Be sure to say hello to Simard Paquette for me – she’s the hostess who makes up for her lack of height with a huge smile, and a warm welcome. Can’t miss her!

Yo Tohu – Stripped down Cirque – but so much fun!

I’m such a sap for the Circus – both old school (with animals) and new school (acrobats, jugglers, and the like). Which is why Pista del Tango was such a disappointment. How dare you ruin the Circus for me?

Thank goodness for Tohu. I always assume that everyone knows what I’m talking about when I say Tohu – but based on the lack of audience on Thursday (2/27/2013) night, I’m guessing that maybe I need to start off with a – how to find the Tohu.

Where/What is Tohu

Start by checking out their website – there’s both an English and a French version – you can get tickets, check the dates of different performances, and get a list of all the free stuff that happens there. I can personally recommend just about anything that they put on – I’ve never had a bad time – and frequently had a great time. This is NOT Cirque de Soleil, despite the physical closeness – those tall buildings to the right as you drive in are the Montreal headquarters of the Cirque de Soleil – and clearly there’s money and financing cross-overs. But Tohu is clearly independent – and rather feisty about that.

Festival Mondial Du Cirque De Demain

This is the third or fourth time I’ve seen these guys perform – and it is always a huge pleasure. Truly some of the best young (and not so young) performers from around the world come to Montreal as part of this group. There is no pretense at a story, or a theme, or even much of a set. Instead – this is a presentation by 9 different performing teams – each one of which has one at least one award – and in some cases – several awards. So we’re talking the best of the best at what they do. And what they can do is nothing short of astounding. We were 4 – and each of us had a different top act. My husband’s personal favorite was the Starbugs – 3 nutty guys – clowns with tremendous physical abilities. I just couldn’t stop laughing. One highlight – the fake ‘fight’ that started with the 2 guys in ‘contact’, and continued as they got further and further apart. What a hoot. My daughter loved the Chinese juggler/plate spinner who managed to take spinning objects to an entirely new level – and ended his act by pulling a ‘dragon’ out of his basket and spinning that! Another favorite was the Trapeze artist – who did things on a trapeze including several multiple spins high above the audience, unattached to the trapeze at all, that I’d never seen before.

Then there were the 2 male contortionists. I can’t find words to describe their act – except to say that sometimes they looked completely normal, and other times left me sitting with my mouth completely open in stunned surprise.

I particularly like the first act – a quick presentation by the students in the circus school. A teaser to encourage people to get tickets to their graduation performances in April – something I totally recommend that all my followers – and all their friends – do immediately. There are 2 different productions – they split the class in half, and each group gets their group of performances. I’ve done both – and never been sorry.

Finally – I wouldn’t do a fair review of this wonderful evening if I didn’t mention the guy (huge) and girl (tiny) team. The guy essentially tossed his partner around like she was putty – and she let him do it! Her grace was extraordinary, and his control when tossing her was so light and easy – you could easily fool yourself into thinking – I could do that. Word to the wise – Nope, you probably can’t.

Positive Stuff: Cafe at Tohu – little known but completely wonderful place to grab a grilled cheese sandwich, a bag of delicious popcorn, or even a Latté before a performance, Free stuff before the performance – in this case – a pile of circus toys that you could try out – including a tightrope to walk and plates to spin, and inexpensive parking – Just $5. Negative Stuff: Don’t count on the scenery and costumes to blow you away – that’s not the point, There’s not a bad seat in the house – but there are some side seats that are best avoided, and it ends late if there’s an intermission.

Go – Enjoy – Tell’m the Soup Lady sent ya.

La Sirene de la Mer – Love the Octopus!

La Sirene de la Mer on Jean Talon West in the Outremont area has been the go-to option for my family for years. So imagine my surprise to discover that it’s not on Jean Talon. It’s officially on Dresden Ave. Who knew?

But GPS location aside – La Sirene has always been one of my families favorite dining destinations. I adore the Fatoush salad (for those who don’t know – it’s a pretty standard salad with freshly fried pita chips. Just delicious), and we always get the Octopus – and have never been sorry.

Last night (2/28/2013) we took my daughter’s visiting British boyfriend there for a quick dinner before the theatre – and discovered two complete new (to us anyway) dishes. Sometimes you just have to branch out.

In addition to our staples – we ordered the Friture de Sirene – quickly fired thin slices of Eggplant and Zucchini served with yogurt – and deep-fried Scorpion Fish. Oh my – were both totally yummy. The ‘chips’ were piled high – definitely only extremely lightly battered before they were fried – and so delightfully crisp that the entire order disappeared before we finished eating the pickled turnips. Oh were they good.

The deep-fried Scorpion Fish was a fabulous discovery. I don’t think I’d even have thought to taste it without the British curiosity of my daughter’s friend. The meat was white, in big easy to eat chunks, and the fried fish itself was both crunchy and tender. It was served with an entire pita bread that had been similarly fried – oh man was this a dish to savor. There’s not a lot of ‘meat’ to a Scorpion Fish – so it really about cool presentation and a bit of fiddling, but it was fun.

Complaints – well – service got distracted as the restaurant filled – and we ended up having to wave madly to get our check, and I dearly wish they’d offer seconds of the pickled turnips – and I wish that the Fava beans came with the main courses and weren’t an expensive add-on, but this is being pretty picky. It was a good value, a fun and delicious meal, and we got to really chat up the new boyfriend. It just doesn’t get much better than all that.

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