Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spring Wildflowers

Marie  and I spent a few days at the cabin this past week preparing for the visit of her brother Mario and his two children from Boston who will be arriving on the 27th. Spring in the Appalachians of eastern Quebec is unlike anywhere else and the climate, soil and elevation all contribute to a diversity of wild vegetation and flowers you don't see here in Montreal. These tiny beauties only bloom for a short period, from the time of the last melting snow to the leafing out of the maples that will eventually block out the sun and turn the woods into a shady and cool retreat. I took all these photos on our property on a showery, cloudy day but they still were a pleasure to the eye. Enjoy! gws

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Phil & Fernanda's Bathroom Renovations Part 1

    Greetings from wet and soggy Montreal! For weeks now we have awaited eagerly for those first warm days that change the city almost overnight from a grey and ugly jumble of brick and concrete into the bright green boulevards and parks that suddenly burst into life with the colourful blossoms of trees and flowers that make this such a beautiful place. The sun did shine for a few days but we are back into the rainy cycle again and no reprieve I guess for all those people flooded out by the swollen Richelieu River and Lake Champlain, a flood  zone covering the area between Montreal's south shore down to the New York border. I managed to get out to our property this past week and, at 2100 feet above sea level, everything was dry and dusty, a far cry from those people south of us. Here in Montreal though we have a few minor water incursions to fix but the main project going on at the moment is the complete makeover of Phil and Fer's bathroom. They are doing all the work themselves, from the demolition to putting in all new plumbing and electrical, putting up new walls, installing new fixtures and lights, and taping and painting, My job, other than a few comments, some grunt work when needed and a little advise not always taken, will be putting in the ceramic tiles around the shower enclosure and floor. But in the meantime alot of hard work and sweat have gone into this first major project Phil and Fer have done together here in our duplex. The following pictures will give you some idea of the task they had to face in a bathroom from 1924!

Floors and walls following removal of tiles, plaster, toilet and bath

Framing of new shower enclosure, green driwall and backer board

Nothing in this f******* room is square!!!
The Boss at work

New shower pan
Ceiling and new exhaust fan
Fer taping

Till next time! gws

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day from St-Chrysostôme, Quebec

   This lovely warm May day found Marie and I visiting the cemetary behind the Église St-Jean-Chrysostôme in St-Chrysostôme, Quebec where her Mother and Father are buried. It is a beautiful spot, about 30 minutes south of Montreal near the New York border, surrounded by the fertile farms, dairys, orchards and greenhouses that supply the big city to the north. It was a much needed break for both of us from the ongoing duplex renovations, work and the bustle of Montreal. It has been over seven years since Marie lost her parents and standing there in the freshly mowed lawn of the cemetary we both marvelled at the passing of time. On our return to home I called my Mum and was gladdened to hear how well she sounded, enjoying her special day with her daughters and new great-granddaughter Brenna. I love you Mum!

Where the heck is St-Chrysostôme?

Whether we wake or we sleep,
Whether we carol or weep,
The Sun with his Planets in chime,
Marketh the going of Time.
~Edward Fitzgerald


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dame Evelyne Landry

All in all this has been an emotional week.  It all started with a call from my aunt Thérèse Bourgoin to inform me that my aunt Évelyne Landry-Bourgoin, my uncle Claude's wife, had passed away from bladder cancer.  This was shocking since she had only been diagnosed a month earlier.  My aunt and uncle had been such a support when my Mom and Dad passed away, that I thought it very important to go to my aunt's funeral.  My cousin Denyse arranged everything.  Since her father is very ill, she also had to ensure that he could participate to he funeral.  So on Tuesday morning I made my way to the bus station for a 12 hour drive from Montreal to Carleton-sur-mer, an idyllic sea-side community by the Baie des Chaleurs.  I must say that buses have evolved a great deal, with more leg room, plugs and wi-fi, which made the trip endurable.  The bus dropped me off at the Heron restaurant in Carleton-sur-mer at about 9:15pm where my cousin Denyse met me.  The last time we had seen each other was for our grandfather's funeral in 1974; we were 17.  It was very easy to recognize her as she looks very much like her mother.  She drove me, a couple of minutes away, to the B&B I was staying at: Gîte la Mer la Montagne.  For $57 per night I had a huge room with a queen bed, a double bed, a full bathroom, and a balcony overlooking the Baie des Chaleurs; this price also included a wonderful home-made hot and cold breakfast.  My hosts, Monsieur Roger Legault et Mme Alice Piquette, were wonderful, warm, entertaining, and very helpful - Alice drove me to the Church the morning of the funeral (they had also offered to pick me up and drop me off at the bus station). You can see it all at  
At the church, the oldest Roman Catholic church in Gaspésie, he funeral was well organized by my cousin who, with the assistance of her husband, Yves Tardiff, ensured that everyone was welcomed and properly introduced to everyone else; she also ensured her father was given appropriate information to remember who everyone was.  The flowers were beautiful and framed the pedestal where my aunt's ashes were resting in a wonderful vessel that reflected all the light in a rainbow-like halo.  The music and the signers were  inspirational.  The big surprise came when my uncle insisted in saying a few words in remembrance of his wife.  Since he is not in good health, my cousin and her husband helped him to be podium where he started by reading from a prepared speech, which he obviously gave a lot of thought to, and then he continued on from the heart in remembering how they met and how they lived their life together in much love and respect.  Unfortunately, my cousin Paul, my uncle's youngest child, could not come because of illness.  I kept thinking of him as I am sure it must have been very difficult for him. One of Évelyne's sister, Lucette, was able to come, but her other sister, Madeleine is very ill and could not make the trip.  Lise, one Denyse's cousin on her mother's side was also there.  After the mass, the family was invited for a light lunch in the Sacristy, where we all renewed acquintances.  I actually met a couple of distant cousins which still live in Mont-Joli where my father was born and grew up.

After the funeral I walked back to the B&B, about 5 minutes, while Denyse brought her father back to his residence.  That evening Denyse, Lucette, Lise, Denyse's best friend and myself all enjoyed supper together at the Heron restaurant.  The restaurant has a wonderful view of the Baie des Chaleurs from the dining room area where we had the whole place to ourselves.

Then it was back to the B&B for the night.  After another wonderful breakfast, my cousin picked me up to deliver me safely to the bus station where we said our good byes and I embarked on another 12 hour trip for home.

I would highly recommend a visit to the Gaspésie, a very unique and culturally different part of Quebec and Canada.  The view and the people are amazing.  If you do, remember to stop by Carleton-sur-mer!

As I reflected I thought:  isn't it so sad that we have to wait for these events in our lives to make the effort to visit others which at one point mattered so much!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Muffy Bird

                         Hold fast to your dreams! Without them life is like a dog in a cage that cannot fly.....
                                                                     Happy May!