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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why the only reason Fridays are better than Mondays is that it's almost the weekend.

One would expect Friday to be a mellow day, with the week winding down and tying up loose ends at work. One would expect this. Reality paints a different portrait.

Take yesterday. First, I got to the bus stop and the bus was actually early and already full so I didn't get a seat. Wouldn't you expect there to be less people taking the bus at 6:43 a.m. on a Friday? Not the case, obviously.

Then work.
I was at the "Japan" station this week in the lab. We make a curry sauce mixture that is destined for a customer in Japan hence we refer to this task as "Le Japon". On Fridays, they don't make any batches for Japan so I didn't have any sampling to do, only the tests on the production from the day before. You'd think I'd be less busy than the other days? Nuh uh. And I can't really explain why I was so busy in the a.m.
I did the test for salt content.
I did the melting point test.
I cooked up the curry sauce and had the others in the lab do a taste test.
I entered my results.
In between all this I did some taste-testing on the finished products side because my colleague on that job had a cold and couldn't taste anything.
And the next thing you know, it was amost 12 and it was time for us to go out for lunch.
This was a treat. We usually only have 30 minutes for lunch (although on Fridays, the 3 of us in QC eat together and stretch it out to 45) but yesterday was the last day for our colleague François in the R&D department so the 8 of us who work in the lab went out to Vinnie Gambini's for a goodbye lunch.
It was a good, but they were short-staffed (4 waiters instead of 7 and no bartender) so we were gone for a good 2 hours.
By the time we got back and changed, it was time for me to go down to the production department and do my weekly inspection after they had washed their equipment.
Then I had to go try on safety shoes.
Then I had to prepare all the sample containers and labels for next week for "Le Japon".
Then it was 3:30 and time to go back downstairs and do a final inspection.
Then I had to print up my report, tie up any loose ends around the lab and make sure everything was ready for Monday morning.
Okay, I'm really not doing the hecticness that I felt any justice here but before I knew it it was 4 o'clock and time to go!
Weekend, woohoo!

France had left me a message inviting Tim & me over for cabbage rolls so I walked to her place from work. Or more like moseyed my way over. But she wasn't home yet when I got there. So I went over to Katja & Jouni's who live a block away (very convenient!) and she joined us shortly after then Tim also arrived.

France told us all about her trip to Brazil and showed us her pictures after stuffing us with very yummy cabbage rolls and stuffed peppers.

Anja is away whale-watching in Tadoussac for the weekend so we got to sleep with the bedroom door open.
It's the little things in life...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back to reality

So we're back to the old routine except for having a border in our home for 2 weeks. Anja arrived on Monday the 3rd from Germany. As in previous years, I've helped out Alain Forget, a German teacher at Ahuntsic Cegep, by providing a place for his visiting assistant to stay.

Last Saturday, we took it easy. We went and bugged Eric who was doing some sewing at his in-laws' shop.

And then I got taken out to see the Québécois film Bluff. Good storyline and an ending neither I nor Tim predicted. We then went out for a very nice supper at Cumulus, a resto in the 10-30 in Brossard.

Tim had his first bonspiel of the season in Boucherville on Sunday but his first game was at 8 am so I opted out going with him to spectate.
The weather was iffy so I debated whether to bike to the Shore and visit Catherine and Vanessa but they ended up coming into town and we went for a long walk up to Mount Royal.
It made me feel less guilty about the Ben & Jerry's I had the previous evening!

How I spent my summer vacation (part 5)

After settling back in at Jacquie & Matt's, we decided on Thai for supper. We went to a pretty cheesy looking place that had great food! The imperial rolls were particularly tasty and very fresh, not the run-of-the-mill rolls you get at most places. We even got serenated by our flute-playing waiter. The next day, we thought of maybe going to Annapolis but ended up taking it easy instead. Jacquie made us crepes for breakfast.

Then we went and did some shopping at REI, the closest thing to MEC down there...

When we returned from shopping, Jacquie made some Mexican food and their friend came over and related a bit of his research trip to Alaska.

If you want to see an excellent film (and as of this week, it is still playing at the AMC Forum), go see
One of the main characters is played by the lead singer of the Frames whom I went to see last spring at Le National. Tim and I had wanted to go see the movie ever since it came out in Montreal, but never had the chance to go. Well, lo and behold, it was playing at the Greenbelt theater so the four of us went to see it Saturday evening.

When we came back from the movies we sat outside and Matt made a fire in the chimenea and we ate chocolate pie, mmmmmmm!

We packed everything up and said our goodbyes on Sunday morning and started on the long journey home. We broke up the drive a bit by stopping at Chocolate World in Hershey, PA.

What a zoo! We managed to make it out of there with only 4 bags of Kisses and a 1/2 lb bar of Hershey's Milk Chocolate. And a coulpe of t-shirts.

We didn't make any other stops other than bathroom breaks until Plattsburg. It was just after 6 by then and we were pretty hungry so we stoppped for pizza at Little Caesar's before breezing through the border. Smart move to come back on Sunday and not on Labour Day Monday.

And that's about it for the trip.

I'm glad we got some hiking and camping in and visiting friends always makes for a fun and certainly more memorable time.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

How I spent my summer vacation (part 4)

We arrived at Jacquie & Matt's in Greenbelt, MD on Wednesday evening.We had a really yummy supper with corn, salad, potatoes, salmon burgers and homemade peach pie with ice cream for dessert.

We'd decided that on Thursday we'd head to Virginia to the Shenandoah Valley and enjoy a bit of nature. We made it there by midday and stopped for lunch in exciting(!) Front Royal before paying our entrance fee at the North entrance of the National Park.
We drove along the Skyline Drive which has lots and lots of outlooks on both sides but it was pretty hazy so the views weren't so great. We did have a couple of deer run across the road in front of us in the middle of the afternoon, which seems like an unusual time of day for them to be out and about.
We then stopped at the Luray Caverns and took the tour through the caves and saw lots and lots of stalactites and stalagmites. (Do you know which are which?!)
Most of my pictures didn't turn out so well because of the lighting but I'd love to see the shots one kid took with a disposable camera!

We then picked up some food at the (evil, I know) Walmart Superstore and made it to Big Meadows campground for the night.

The next morning, I woke up to the sound of munching just outside our tent and unzipped the window to see a deer wandering around our site.
It was time to get up by then (nature calls!) so I grabbed the camera and walked around the campground and saw a few more deer throught the morning mist.

After taking numerous photos, we had some breakfast and packed up and got ready for a hike.

Down, down, down, we went following part of the Appalachian trail and ended up at Lewis Falls. Or more like the Lewis Trickle. It's been a very dry summer down there.
Then it was back up, up, up.
The 3 1/2 hour hike it was supposed to be actually only took us 2. I really wonder how they calculate these things sometimes.
We were taking our time and enjoying the scenery and stopping to catch our breath so there's no way it would ever take you over 3 hours to hike it.

At the "waterfall", we encountered a couple from somewhere in Virginia and the wife had recently been to Montreal with her granddaughter and had a great time, loved the people and felt safe everywhere she went. It's nice to encounter people who have good memories of visiting your hometown.

After a picnic lunch we headed back to Greenbelt and hit D.C. long weekend traffic at about 3 o'clock. Joy.

Friday, September 07, 2007

How I spent my summer vacation (part 3)

Tuesday morning, after doing the White Water Walk, we crossed the border into NY state at Fort Erie. It luckily only took us about 15 minutes to get through. That wasn't the case in Niagara where there was quite a long lineup to cross the Peace Bridge.
Did you know that there are Tim Hortons' in NY state?! I wonder if anyone down there knows who he was. Come to think of it, how many people up here know that he was a hockey player?

We made our way down to Pennsylvania, discovering that its roads are very scenic, hilly and sinous in the West. But their interstates are worse than Quebec highways. (Is that possible?!)
We made it to Blue Knob State Park that evening and stayed in a pretty deserted campground. The next morning, we had a chat with some redneck dude who had pulled into the site next to us at some point in the night but we had not heard him at all, thankfully. We then went for a nice little hike, which felt good after spending much of the previous day in the car.

How I spent my summer vacation (part 2)

Niagara Falls really wasn't as tacky as I thought it would be. But, then again, I think we purposefully avoided the gawdiness, except for walking up Clifton Hill.

I think one can easily enjoy the falls just as much from the walkways without having to pay the entrance fees to the various "attractions" but we bought a pass that allowed us access to the Maid of the Mist, the Journey Behind the Falls, the White Water Walk and the Butterfly Conservatory.

Then again, I would not have been able to read all about my heroes, the Barrel Riders, if we had not gotten the package.
You see, I am "Official Barrel Rider", as appointed by Olaf (Pronouncer in chief), for the Facebook group "Visited Nifalls".

In the evening, we popped in on Lee and her fiancé (husband-to-be this weekend, I believe.) She's an old acquaintance of Tim's from way back in his high school days.
We stayed at a decent Travel Lodge that night.

How I spent my summer vacation (part 1)
by Chris K

Tim took off on Wednesday afternoon for Toronto and stayed with his friend Carolyn and went to a client's office on Thursday before heading to curling camp (tee hee!) for 3 days.

I tried to get the house a little cleaned up before going away, then I left for Toronto Saturday afternoon via VIA!

I stayed at my friends' Mike & Jane place, they used to be my neighbours and good friends before they had to sadly move back to Toronta. Unfortunately Jane was away in Chicago for the weekend but I got to spend some time with Mike and their 2 kids, Kathleen who is 5 y.o. and Jack, 10 months.

We went to the busker festival on Sunday and had lots of fun and even indulged in some cotton candy. Man is that stuff ever sweet!

Also, strange but true, I bumped into Carolyn at the festival, just like that, out of the blue. Weird.

After Jack had had enough action for the afternoon, we headed back to their place and relaxed and then Tim showed up and we hung out a little before deciding to head to Hamilton. Don't worry, we only spent a short time there!
Just long enough to meet up with Coeli, a friend of Tim's from Cegep, for supper at an Irish pub called Slainte. The place was pretty authentic, the food was good and they had football jerseys for sale, albeit, they were a little pricey. We possibly would have stayed the night, but Coeli has a cat and after about 5 minutes in her apartment, Tim had a sneezing fit and his eyes were red and watering. Anyhow, we ended up (eventually, after going the wrong way on the 403) in Niagara-on-the-Lake at a very nice B&B called Merlot House, owned and run by someone Coeli used to work with. We had a lovely breakfast the next morning with a couple who were celebrating their 1st wedding anniversary. After checking out, we strolled the main drag of Niagara-on-the-Lake and went into a few of the shops. Tim and I both bought a couple of rings each, with celtic designs. I bought a Claddagh ring. I'd been wanting one for quite a while and finally found one to my liking.

Then, it was off to Nifalls!
Niagara Falls, for those of you who have yet to hear Olaf's story...