Au Revoir Montreal, Part Deux: Guidebook

After living in NYC, I am frequently asked my favorite highlights by friends heading to the big apple. I have to dig up the same information (what cross street is that on again?) and think of and type out all my recommendations each time. So while I’m still fresh, I thought I’d just consolidate that information right here, right now, in case in the future any of you decide to visit Montreal. And obviously, this is written by someone who does everything with a little kid in tow, so if you are here for the nightclubbing, this review is not for you.

Parc Lafontaine: in the Plateau is very nice to walk around in almost any season. It has a pond and playgrounds, and in the summer a mini choo-choo train for kids. It’s below Rue Rachel between Ave Parc Lafontaine and Papineau. Closest Metro: Sherbrooke

Westmount Park: Adorable little park with an interesting water-feature and nice playground. Some of the friendliest (and thieving) squirrels in the city. Westmount’s library is nestled in the corner of the park and has a lovely children’s section downstairs. Along Rue Sherbrooke between Melville and Lansdowne. Nearest Metro: Vendôme.

Park Wilfrid Laurier: One of my favorites in the summer. It has really tall trees and a lovely lawn for picnics. The playground is great for mixed ages and it has a fantastic pool and wading pool with fountain. I especially love the wading pool because the bottom is kind of soft and it has a sloped entrance which is really nice for babies and crawlers. It’s free on weekdays and only $4 for adults and like $1 for kids on weekends. Along Rue Laurier between Mentana and Brebeúf. Metro: Laurier


Museum of Fine Arts: While not the largest collection, it has many wonderful pieces of European, American, and Canadian art. And there is usually an interesting special exhibit to check out. The museum is free (donation requested) but you need to have a ticket for special exhibits. There is a nice room with puzzles and things for kids, and really shallow “horse steps” going up to each of the floors. My daughter loves climbing them. On Rue Sherbrooke between Bishop and Crescent. Metro: Guy-Concordia.

Old Town Montreal and the Old Port: In the way all old adorable places get super touristy, this area has unfortunately fallen to the temptation of filling its charming streets with tacky souvenir shops and overpriced dining. But there are still a few interesting things to see and the views of the stately, old buildings of the city are quite nice. It’s nice to take a walk around this area and there are a few interesting art galleries here and there. Go on weekends or it will feel a bit desolate. Between Rue Notre Dame Est and towards the waterfront, near Rue Ste-Gabriel. Metro: Champ de Mars.

Botanical Gardens: A gigantic, sprawling garden, or rather series of different gardens, the crown jewel of which is the lovely Chinese Garden, with it’s little temples, lake, bridges, and winding paths. My favorite is the Temple of Infinite Pleasantness, it just sounds like such a nice place to hang out. The Japanese Garden is also very beautiful and quite large. Don’t miss the Shade Garden and the First Nations Garden either. You could spend a lot of time wandering this place, appreciating all the hard work that goes into all the different plants. There is also an indoor system of greehouses featuring different climates’ vegetation. In the early spring, they have a Butterflies Go Free exhibit where you can walk around in a greenhouse filled with free butterflies and their native fruits and flowers. June and July are probably the best months to see all the flowers blooming outside, but if you come in the winter, the Chinese Garden has a temporary exhibit of lit silk lanterns after sundown. It’s breathtaking. At Blvd Pie IX and Sherbrooke Est. Metro: Pie IX.

Marche Jean-Talon Our large semi-permanent, open air, farmers market and various small shops for cheeses and spices and lots of other wonderful things. Jean-Talon is the kind of place you WISH you could buy all your vegetables. It’s only really hopping in the late spring through early fall, but it gets wonderful local produce for good prices and even if you are just visiting, you are bound to find something at one of the stalls or in the surrounding shops. Grab lunch at one of the little places in and around the market and if you are here in June, grab some local strawberries. On Rue Jean-Talon Est at Ave Henri Julien. Metro: Jean-Talon.

Streets to Walk Down

St Laurent between Mont-Royal and Rue Prince Arthur Est, take a left on that and walk down to Square St Louis (so pretty) and through to St Denis, make a right and continue to St Catherine.

St Catherine between Papineau and Downtown

Sherbrooke Oest between Blvd Décarie and Ave Victoria

Ave Du Parc between St Viateur and Mont-Royal

Restaurants and Cafes

I’m not going to pretend that this is in any way comprehensive… my restaurant-ing has been dramatically hampered by the baby-to-preschooler conversion project I’ve been working on as well as income, but here are a few of my favs.

Juliette and Chocolat: One of my favorite places for crepes, actually. And their cocoa menu isn’t too shabby either. Cacao 70 is good too, but their focus is more on chocolate everything and Juliette has really good regular food too. Two locations, one at St Laurent and Prince Arthur Ouest and the other at St Denis between Ontario and Maisonneuve.

Commensal: A vegetarian buffet, lots of interesting salads and warm dishes. Two locations, one on St Denis and one on McGill College Ave downtown. I think it’s rather kid friendly.

Comptoir 21: A cute fish and chips shop, but very good food. St Catherine, just east of Amherst.

Icehouse: A southern, “tex mex,” fried food kind of place. They dump your food on paper in the center the table in sort of the most charming way possible. I like the burrito but really I go for the bourbon lemonade which is pretty much the only thing I want to drink all summer for the rest of my life. The experience/service is a bit brusque, but I’m a NYer so it doesn’t bother me so much. If you can, go on a weekday evening as early as possible as it can get busy (no reservations). Ave Roy, just east of St Laurent.

Cacao 70: A chocolate goo fest. Crepes and desserts and chocolate pizzas… it’s delicious and terrible and wonderful. St Catherine between Panet and Beaudry.

La Mie Matinale: A very small bakery, cafe, sandwich shop. This is a totally personal recommendation. When we first moved to Montreal, I had a tiny baby and no desire to leave the apartment. My husband brought me back sandwiches from here quite frequently. I fell pretty hard for them. If you happen to be nearby, go in and grab a coffee, a pain au chocolate, and a smoked salmon sandwich. It’s my favorite sandwich in all of Montreal and will probably be the one food I miss the most. St Catherine between Panet and Plessis.

I hope you have fun running around Montreal, remember to keep your metro cards until you’ve completed your trip (sometimes they check), bring your winter coats between October and April (and all year except July/Aug if you are from Florida), and yes, the paper money feels like plastic so don’t accidentally throw out stuff in your pockets without looking at it. Bon voyage!

A quinquireme is a type of Roman galley ship, FYI.

I have had this poem stuck in my head for several days. It’s one I read to my daughter sometimes and like a earworm song, it’s hard for me to dislodge. It has an interesting meter, which is hard to pin down because it shifts every so slightly between the stanzas. Anyway, it’s:

“Cargoes,” by John Masefield

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke-stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

Because it’s been in my head, I’ve started to come up with random other stanzas of my own. Here’s my favorite:

Silly little rowboat on the pond of lily pads,
Floating by the cattails in the white moon glow,
With a cargo of artists,
Poets, dreamers,
Optimists, pessimists, and those who know.

And here’s another:

Silky baby kitty in his stripey pyjamas,
snoozing on the bed for six hours spurts,
With a cargo of pandas,
Pillows, blankets,
baby dolls, princesses, and unpacked shirts.

Au revoir, Montreal: Part 1

In saying good-bye to this city, to my daughter’s first home, to the place that has amused and vexed me for the past 3 years, I am writing a three part series of posts about our time here.

One area I have woefully neglected on this blog, and didn’t even REALIZE it until someone suggested I blog about it, is all the crazy people and the crazy things they say/do to me here. I can’t even remember all the bizarre things that have happened, and they happen with such frequency, so I’m just going to give you some highlights. I have titled this list of events:

“I Swear People Here Have Brain Damage.”

1. I was on the metro platform waiting for a train with my daughter. The next train came, stopped, and a guy stepped off but just off to the side, like you would do if you were getting out of the way so that others could get off but you intended to get right back on. There were two gentlemen inside the train exchanging very loud words. I didn’t even realize this until after I had stepped on and gone to the opposite side. The arguing guys were now between me and the door, being held open by the guy standing on the platform. The argument was very heated, they were shouting and acting aggressively like the fists were going to fly at any second. The guy outside the train kept motioning for them to get off. Then he reached into his duffle with his arm and pointed something in the bag at the two men. It’s hard to describe this motion, but let’s just say it was exactly the kind of thing you’d do if you had a gun in your bag and didn’t want to get it out but wanted to make sure someone was thinking “he has a gun in his bag.” Eventually, a different guy standing on the platform who had just showed up, took pity on me and stepped into the doorway and held out his hand to me. The two fighting guys were surprised for a second and that pause allowed me to get off the train with my kid and I went down to another train car. I don’t know how the fight “ended.” The train was stopped for another minute or so, but then went on as usual. This was one of only 2 times I was every really “afraid” for a minute in this city.

2. I was waiting for the bus holding my then 1 year old. She had wriggled so that the bottom of my shirt had come up and I was trying to pull it back down. A woman waiting for the bus, looked over and said “you should really lose that baby fat.”

3. We were having dinner with friends recently, and we were sitting inside a restaurant with large open windows along the street, but we were like two tables in from the windows. A passing older man saw my daughter at our table, stopped and poked his head all the way into the widow and tried to get her attention so he could “coo coo” at her. Our friends were totally dumbfounded. I was like, “this shit happens all the time.”

4. While crossing the street at a big intersection and holding my two-year-old’s hand, a woman came up behind us and tried to get my daughter to hold her hand with her other free hand. When my kid wouldn’t just grab a stranger’s hand, she looked at me and said “get her to take my hand!” And all I could think so say was “Um, why?” She angrily shouted, “I am trying to help you!” and stormed off ahead, muttering to herself.

5. I was at the playground and my daughter decided to run out of the somewhat enclosed play area to explore the small grassy area outside of it. A couple of people had their dogs there. I had set my bag on the picnic table inside the play area, so I kept peeking over at it to make sure it was ok. We were the only ones there, besides the dog owners. After a minute or two, I’m about to tell my daughter we need to go back to get our bag if she wants to explore more of the park, and I look up and see a guy park his bike along the fence. I thought he was on the outside of the play area. But when I look again, I realize he’s on the inside and he’s standing over my bag. Then, he starts going through my bag. I shout over as I start running towards him “Hey, that’s my bag!” He puts his hands up like “oh, I had no idea!” And hurries off with his bike.

6. In our apartment one day, I heard this sound like it was raining in our bathroom? I went in and there was brown waste water pouring from the ceiling vent. I sent my husband downstairs to get the building manager and they sent their handyman up. Turns out, the people above us were doing their laundry in. the. toilet. For real. They had been using the toilet. To do their laundry. And somehow, in this completely ill-advised process, they had flushed a sock and some other small things and totally clogged the water line. But did they do anything about it? Nope. So, fast forward to the poo-rain in my bathroom–the building guy sorta mopped the floor for me, because there was a lot of water at this point. But I had to spend most of the bleaching every surface in my bathroom until it hurt to breathe the fumes. There are a lot of questions I want to ask those people (who have since moved out, I think), but if I only got one, I’d ask: “why didn’t you just use the bathtub which is like 4 $%^&@ inches from the #$^&*@ toilet??”

7. I was watching my daughter play on a playground climbing/slide apparatus while talking to another mom last week. There was a group from a local school there and the older kids were not letting her go down the slide or really move around at all without bumping into her. She was mostly just standing around watching them go by and hoping for a break in the traffic so she could cross the bridge or go down the slide. I was observing all of this, but one of the monitors from the school decided to find out who’s little kid this was (mine) and then yell at me for not “watching her closely enough.” Because when your kids are knocking around a smaller child, it’s the smaller child’s parent’s fault for not hovering over them to make that stop. Right. And even after I told her that I was watching and would appreciate if she could tell her students to be more careful, she still spent the next 10 minutes complaining to every adult on the playground about me.

8. When my daughter was still very young, just a few months old, I was coming home from the grocery store. She was bundled up in her baby carrier and I had a grocery bag in each hand. I noticed at the corner before my building a very disheveled man yelling at the top of his lungs to a man on a bicycle across the street, and the biker angrily shouted back. I had no idea what they were saying, but I could tell the older guy standing on the sidewalk was a bit crazy, possibly drunk, maybe homeless. I saw the biker speed off and the guy’s gaze then fall onto the nearest passing person. Me. I avoided looking at him and calmly kept walking. He started following me. He started shouting at me. I didn’t look at him, I tried to pretend I had no idea he was following me. He got closer and lounder and I walked a little faster. I think he realized at some point that I didn’t speak French because he started fuming at me about Quebec. I was probably only 30 meters from the sidewalk up to my building’s entrance at this point, so I figured that as soon as I turned off the city sidewalk, he’d probably stop following me, but he didn’t. He was practically next to me when I started up towards our front door. So I walked really, really fast, while trying to fish for my keys. I got to the door and I didn’t know how far behind me he was but I opened the first door (not locked) and swiped my magnetic key against the wall thing for the second set of glass doors ever-so-briskly. And just as I passed through the locked doors, I caught this guy’s reflection in the mirrors ahead of me and he was coming through the first doors. I pulled the second door shut behind me and it clicked close just as he reached for it. I made haste to the elevators (of course no one was in the lobby office that day) and counted myself lucky. But as a new mom, I’m pretty sure I would have had the endorphins, adrenaline, and rage to tear this guy’s face off had he actually touched me or my baby. I have no idea what he was trying to do, but I’m glad I can walk fast.

9. A woman on a bus when my daughter was a about 18 months old, offered me her seat and I said “no thanks.” She insisted I sit down. “No really, I’m fine.” Then she says, “but you’re pregnant!” And totally embarrassed, I say, “no I’m not.” She says……. “yes, you are!” After I died inside a little bit, I just stare at her with total shock. She stares back. Then she says “Oh, I’m sorry” and looks away.

10. When I had a headache that wouldn’t go away for several weeks, I went to a walk-in clinic in my area to see if I was dying. A doctor saw me, told me I had a sinus infection, prescribed an antibiotic (that I couldn’t take because I was breastfeeding, which I told him), and as I left I asked the receptionist to give me the code for the visit that my insurance would need. She had no idea what I was talking about. I paid for the visit and they gave me a receipt for my insurance. Several weeks later, my husband tells me that our insurance rejected the claim because they need a Quebec-specific diagnosis code from the clinic. I take the form the insurance company sent with the claim rejection down to the clinic to ask for that number again, this time with the specific name of that code. The receptionist tells me that I will have to pay for another visit to have that formed filled out by them. I argue, “no, no, I just need ONE number, it should be in my file.” But she says she is not allowed to look that up, only the doctor is allowed, even though she has my file RIGHT in front of her. She insisted to have the doctor look up this code, requires an appointment, a pay-$120-that-your-insurance-will-NOT-cover appointment. I tried to explain the lunacy of paying $120 to see if my insurance would cover the previous $120, but it was at this point that she switched to french and would not speak english any more.

11. The people who used to live below us had these massive fights with screaming and wailing and shrieking in the middle of the night. It would wake me from a dead sleep. The guy that lived there would also smoke a LOT of pot. A LOT. And the smell would drift up into my apartment because he would keep all his doors and windows shut and blocked. So, our vents would be pouring out pot smoke whenever he decided to get high with his friends, which was anywhere from Saturday night to 10am on a Tuesday. We complained to the building, we knocked on his door. The building was trying to have them evicted (I believe for failure to pay rent) and the manager confessed to me that every single unit around, above, and below had complained about these people. They FINALLY moved out voluntarily, but not before one especially memorable night when I was at this guy’s door BEGGING him to stop smoking because my baby’s eyes were red and itchy and I was coughing upstairs and he tried to tell me that no one was really smoking there, only one cigarette, but not pot. Yeah.

12. My little girl and I got on the metro one night and she walked up to one of the center poles to hang on. The train lurched and she fell back, but I reached out to grab her hand and pull her back up. As I’m doing so, a man in the seats facing us gets up and grabs her other arm. He pulls her towards him. I’m pulling her towards me when he does this. He won’t let go. I give him a look of shock and he pulls on her arm again like he’s trying to pull her away from me. I snap and shout “let go of my kid!” at a volume that the entire train car hears. He yells back at me angrily, “I am trying to give her my seat!” I think I countered with something like “I don’t care, you never pull someone’s kid away from them!” I was just so pissed off. He then proceeded to bash me in french to everyone around him who’d listen for the next two stops until I got off. My daughter was pretty shaken and reminded me for a few days about the “man who pull me” on the train.

13. My daughter and I were leaving Montreal’s airport to get on the express (#747, how appropriate) bus into the city. One of her favorite things to do is ride on my rolling suitcase. She sits on the top and holds onto the pulled out bars of the extendable handle like she’s on a ride. It saves me having to carry her. Mostly people think it’s cute, but one lady decided to loudly point out to me “that’s really unsafe, you know! She could fall.” I laughed and said “you should see what she falls off at home.” Of course, I got the death-glare of judgment, because 30 inches is a really unsafe distance for a 31 inch kid to fall. Clearly.

14. The lady down the hall used to make her son play in the hallway while she was on the phone. He’d run up and down the halls yelling and sometimes thumping into the walls for 10 minutes or so. Usually while my baby was napping. Naturally.

15. My husband and I were flying a kite with our daughter in a large plaza by Berri-UQAM. I was helping her keep her kite up even though there wasn’t much constant wind. A man approaches us and says something I don’t understand in French. I say “I’m sorry I don’t really speak french.” And he says “This is Quebec, we speak french here.” (That part I understood.) I try to ignore him and turn around but he is very close, and keeps lecturing me in french. I don’t understand most of it. I keep ignoring him. Finally, I just say “I’m not from here,” and he responds in perfect english “oh, where are you from?” And my plan is to ignore him, but my husband answers “New York.” This guy then goes off on a “your city has a lot of problems…” rant. Finally, he wanders off after we both ignore him to focus on our kite that won’t stay up for awhile. Way to represent Quebec, dude.

It’s a very weird city…and this is coming from a former NYC resident who had a guy who frequently hung out in front of her building and had conversations with the traffic cones. I try to remind myself of all the strange and frustrating aspects of living anywhere, but nowhere I’ve lived or frequented seems to hold a candle to the residents of this place.

So, to all the people of Montreal who have poked me, tapped me, gently shoved me because they HAD to let me know there was an open seat on a bus or insisted I sit down when I didn’t want to, to the people who told me my kid should be wearing a hat when it was 20 degrees Celsius, the people who have conveniently forgotten how to speak english because I have a problem I need them to fix, and the insane, insensitive, or just plain idiotic people who like to harass me, I will not miss you. I hope your crepes always come out rubbery.

Hello Summer.

It was spring for like 5 minutes. Today it was “hot” by my standards. Which means there was sunlight on me and the temperature was above 24 C. There was a lot of “oh look, can we play in that shady area over there? No? You want to keep playing on this hot climbing thing? Ok. I’ll just stand here and get skin cancer.”

If you haven’t heard, we are moving this summer. Au revoir, Montreal, why hello there, Indianapolis. So, you can expect this August to be the hottest on record. Thanks a lot, climate change.

I have started to contemplate packing. I put two boxes of decorative items together and then felt like I needed to lie down. Between being hot and anemic, a champion procrastinator and easily distracted by pinterest projects, I am the perfect storm of packing-avoidance systems. I was going to get rid of some stuff this month, but I wasn’t really here for most of it. Now that I’m here, I keep finding reasons to hang onto the stuff I had, from afar, totally agreed with myself that I was going to shed from my life. Anyone feel like talking me out of trying to upcycle clothing?

We are going to enjoy our last summer living here, visit our favorite parks and pools, go to the Festivals, walk up and down St Catherine Street a million times (my daughter thinks the 150,000+ pink balls hanging overhead are just for her), and try to do a few things we haven’t done yet. I’ll try to blog about some of them when I can. You know, while I’m avoiding packing.

Dance music

This needs a little back story.

My daughter and I have random dance parties, like you do I presume. And one day she and I were in baby gap, I think she was about 20 months old, and this song came on. She was carrying something around the store, a hanger with a shirt or similar. She heard the song, dropped what she was carrying, and started dancing like it was her job. No one else seemed to notice, but it was pretty funny. When I got home, I looked up the song because I had never heard it before.

You can listen to it (and see the 80’s homage video) here: Little Boots, “Remedy”

A few months later, I made her a playlist for her random “dance parties” and she asks for her “dance music” frequently. But right now, she is newly obsessed with this song “Remedy.” She sings along with it, she wants to listen to it before bed, and she has only just discovered it has a music video (my fault), so it’s pretty much all over.

I have never heard of the artist before, but I gather she’s an English pop artist with very small feet.

Needless to say, she’s #1 on my kid’s charts. Move over Mary Poppins.

Under the wire…

How could I not post in a month?! How could I do it!!! To you of all people. I am a horrible person.

But here I am, getting it in just under the wire on this most important of all mommy-holidays. I have a million excuses, but they don’t matter. I have several posts I have been percolating and a few in draft form that I’m just not ready to share. Maybe June will be their month?

I’m ringing in my Mother’s Day with a midnight glass of Sicilian red something-or-other and wasabi peas. I have been packing to head to my in-laws from where I currently am residing, in my mother’s house, where my daughter has been soaking up the daily enrichment of yards, swing sets, sandboxes, children’s activities, gardening, and endless grandmotherly attention. It’s nice to let her go barefoot in the grass now and then. As long as there are no toads.

My daughter had her first horseback riding lesson last week and she did great! She has been excited to get back on a horse since her birthday party last summer. The stable that provided the horses for her party also gives lessons and her teacher this week seems to be a natural with little ones. She had a huge smile for the entire session and was totally fearless about helping to brush the horse off in the cross-ties. I was really proud of her and I hope she gets to do another lesson really soon.

Yesterday, she visited the Audubon Bird Sanctuary for their kids’ program and saw them tagging and releasing lots of little songbirds. She made a “nest” and learned about different kinds of birds’ nests. Then, she attended a Suzuki violin recital. She sat through all but the last THREE songs, so close! She liked hearing the kids play and it was hard to make her stop trying to hum along with the songs she recognized.

Now I’ve had enough wasabi peas that my eyes have started to water and my nose is running.

It’s also 3am, I should probably go to bed. Happy Mother’s Day to all my fellow mamas, may you feel appreciated, get to brush your hair before leaving the house, find something you’ve been looking for over several weeks, whatever you need most.

How could you! I do it!

“You want to read a story? You do? Okay, come on, which one?”
“This one! George!”
“Okay, here we go.”
“NO NO NO, I do it!! I turn page!”
“I just opened the book, you can turn the pages.”
“NOOOOO I turn page!”
“I know, you can do it. I just opened the book. Here, I’ll close it and we can start over.”
“NO NO NO Mama, I doooo iiiiitttttttttt, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!”
“Calm down, take the book, what do you want to do?”
“You’ve ruined it mom, ruined it. I have been looking forward to cracking this particular volume of Curious George open all day and now I’ve clearly seen the title page and the mystery is gone. I’m crushed. Nothing can give me this moment back. I am so disappointed that you opened it without prior authorization. How could you?”


“Are you hungry? Do you want an orange or a banana?”
“Okay hold on. I know you want to peel it, let me get a piece up for you to start.”
“Okay, you can peel, here!”
“Noooooo! I do it, I peel!”
“I just got it up for you, you can do the rest, I didn’t take any peel off!”
“Do you want an orange or not?”
“Listen, lady. I am a big fan of oranges. Not only do I like their flavor and fun segmentation, I enjoy peeling them immensely. I frankly think the whole experience is ruined if you, as you say ‘start’ it for me. It’s part of my process. I cannot possibly enjoy this orange now. No, no.. another orange will not do. I will always know that this orange was MEANT to be my snack but was desecrated by your complete lack of consideration for my feelings. Really, how could you?”


“We need to go. Can you put on your shoes and coat?”
“I wear bunny hat!”
“Yes, you can wear your bunny hat, but put your shoes and coat on first.”
Wanders off.
“Excuse me, can you get over here and put this stuff on now?”
Nothing happens.
“Okay I’ll come put it on you so we can go.”
“NOOO! I put on shoes!! No mama.”
“You can put them on, I just need you to hurry!”
“No help me, I put them on. I PUT ON!!!”
“Okay I’ll stop helping, jeez. Can I put on your coat at least?”
“How dare you?! What do I look like? An infant?! I can clearly prepare myself for going out and maybe if you weren’t always springing these things on me I’d be more prepared. I distinctly remember that yesterday, I HAD my coat, boots, AND hat on and was ready to go downtown and waiting by the door and at THAT time you were all like ‘oh no, we aren’t going anywhere, you aren’t even wearing pants, blah blah blah,’ and you didn’t see ME trying to stuff you into a pair of rain boots and coat so we could get out. Oh no, I wouldn’t impose like that because I’m a reasonable person.”


“What are these pieces doing all over the floor?”
“I put there. I play.”
“We need to pick them up, come help me.”
“Oh not so interested in ‘I do!’ anymore, huh?”
“Mama pick up!”
“I think you need to help.”
“Do you not know what your job is, mom? Are you unclear on what it entails? Perhaps you need an appointment with HR. Just pick up with stuff everywhere and leave my books and fruits alone. Got it? Oh, and get more of those Hello Panda things. Maybe they shouldn’t be kept so high up. Maybe I should handle snack storage from now on. You seem like you’re not keeping up with things. You better give me that ipad until you can learn what’s expected of you.”


My daughter has started singing. A lot. I’m not sure how or when it started, maybe before christmas? She would occasionally try to follow a tune if you were singing, but not really on her own. Then slowly, she started doing her own renditions of “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and the “ABC’s.” Then, “Baa Baa Black Sheep wasn’t that far off.” But in the last month or two she’s really started branching out to songs not set to Mozart’s most famous theme.

And last month is was ALL about “Easter Parade.” I found this book at the library with a little bunny who makes a bonnet and goes to the parade with her bunny dad (“Easter Parade” by Berlin/McCue). The book is just the lyrics to the song “Easter Parade” from the classic film of the same name. My grandmother used to sing it. She had a thing for easter bonnets. Anyway, I like the song, I like the movie. I’m glad my kid likes the song too, even if it means I had to explain the concept of rotogravure to a kid who has never seen a newspaper.

Now, she sings all of her favorite songs, from “Feed the Birds” to “Coney Island Baby.” It might not be recognizable to anyone but us, but she’s getting there. There are the occasional songs I can’t identify at all, or ones she might have made up? I even caught her singing to the cat. It’s freaking adorable.

St Patrick’s Playdate

I had a few, very cute, little girls over on Friday to play. My daughter was elated to have company. I made some snacks to go with the holiday– you know me. Anyway, I just wanted to share the pictures.

I think you can see where this is going…

Irish Soda Bread

The Irish Soda bread recipe I used is from the Cakewalker blog, with 3:1 bread to whole wheat flour and mixed raisins. The hint of caraway was nice. I really liked this bread.

Guinness Chocolate Pudding. So cute, right?

The recipe for the pudding is here.

The cat in repose.

Kiss me, I’m 1% irish.

If you were there

I would say to you, I miss you in almost everything. That I don’t know how I’ve gone so long or come to this place without you. That I push away the delight of remembering things because the tragedy of this empty spot is too heavy to merely toss around in my everyday life. I still don’t know how to put this. Time has done nothing for me.

I miss your face. And your sarcasm. And the way you used to solve problems like it was so obvious. I even miss your indifference to things I thought were totally cool. There is a whole planet of my own identity that circles your star. There are pages of footnotes in my book because they merely reference yours. Growing up together will do that. Or maybe you were always grown up, it seemed that way most of the time. I am missing a lot of myself, these days, and in looking for it, I keep coming back to the way you ate your cereal in the morning and I honestly cannot believe that it has been ten years since I saw you do it.

Today would have been your 42nd birthday.

If you were there, I’d take you skiing, and put granola bars in your pockets with all your extra tissues. I’d bake you cookies your way, not my way, not my mom’s way. I’d show you Downton Abbey because you’d be really pissed you missed that. I’d loan you my flannel nightshirts and we could play Bach in our pyjamas. I would give you back your stuffed Opus, but I would put a really fancy bow tie on him and I’d put him on top of a jar of apple butter. And then we could go to bed late, sleep in, and not talk in the morning at all until at least noon.

If you could hear me, I’d tell you that so much has changed and yet nothing has changed, that I see you everywhere but especially when certain people smile knowingly with just one corner of their mouth. And that sometimes I think it’s just been a really, really long time since you’ve called and maybe I’ll just get on a plane and go find you. But mostly, I’d tell you I love you and I didn’t want this decade without you, and even more so, I didn’t want you to miss out on all that could have been. All the things you would have done with that incredible mind of yours and all the things we could have done together with this incredible sense of humor of ours. If maybe you were just out there, in witness protection or something, I could bear it.

At our violin teacher’s 30th anniversary recital last year, she dedicated the Bach Double to you. The last time she and I played it together was at your memorial. I, of course, had not even thought about that until she read a little biography about you to the audience. A biography from your obituary. That I wrote. It’s probably a good thing I was playing the first violin part because it took me a moment to get my heart off the floor. I am pretty sure you would have been slightly uncomfortable at the gesture, us playing in memory of you. I know you would have felt bad for me, though. I have lots of emails of you writing that you felt bad that things were hard for me that came easily to you. Like organic chemistry. You always looked out for me. I just helped you buy dresses. But, I know this would have been hard for us both.

There is so much I would want to say. But more than any of it, ever so much more, I want to hear you again. To check the real you against the voice of the memory of you in my head, like diploid chromosomes, like tuning strings, like coming home.