Saturday, February 23, 2013

I was away and now I'm back

A couple of friends and I took off for Montreal for a few days. It was a ton of fun, and although we did a lot of slogging through slush and muck and biting wind-blown snow, we enjoyed ourselves. My pictures are rather uneven: I have no pictures of our train ride or dinners, for example, nor of the Christian Dior jacket Patricia bought. I'll see what I can do here.

We took the train, which involved getting up at the crack of dawn and getting the first subway train to Union Station. The trip was uneventful. Much snowy wasteland out the window.

We all, being responsible middle-aged women, brought food, so we had apples and clementines and cheese and bread and crackers and raisins and nuts and muffins. I may have forgotten something, but you get the idea! (Oh, yes, there were three avocados, as well.)

We needed a hotel room with three beds, and ended up with a family room at the Square Phillips, a building that was once, I believe, a garment factory. The room was rather spectacularly huge!

Our hotel kitchen, photo by Katie
I now think I must take my family there, since it would be perfect for us all. We were able to drop off our bags and put our remaining cheese in the fridge before setting off for the Musee des Beaux Arts.

The permanent collections are open for free, which is refreshing after Toronto's rather pricey museum and art gallery. There was a collection of Napoleon-related stuff, like his hat, portraits, jewellery, a bust of him looking like a Roman emperor -- his tableware from St Helena, even!

He sure knew how to sit for a portrait
There was also a lot of European painting, which made me realise it is great in small doses, but we are going to have to be careful not to burn out on it in Rome (our next family adventure, in a couple of weeks). Especially the religious art has to be kept to a minimum, because all those suffering saints get to be too much pretty quickly, I find. Give me some swirling petticoats and golden leaves any day, though.

Dido's swirling drapery 

I know nothing about this one, but I like it
Perhaps my favourite part was the decorative arts section. So much craziness. When people try to make an interesting chair, who knows what will happen! There were great lamps and tables and teapots -- I could spend an age in there!

Is it comfy to sit in an apple?

A view from the window of the gallery shows the weather we were dealing with! Eeuw. My friend Katie even had to buy new boots to manage. With those new boots, she boldly strode through puddles I was tiptoeing around, lemme tell you.

Thursday was spent shopping. We had the address of a Salvation Army thrift shop, and knew it was sort of at one end of what they call Antiques Alley. We trudged off and managed to find a couple of other vintage clothing shops, some really expensive antiques shops and a couple of vintage junk stores, with things from our childhood offered up at rather high prices.

We stuck to clothing and accessories. I made yet another attempt at finding the Perfect Bag. We shall see, but it's a cute purse/backpack which might just be The One. And a few shirts, and things for the kids. I passed up a lovely apple-shaped sugar bowl for $55, and also declined to buy a nice Anne Klein jacket which fit me fine, but had epaulettes which looked funny. One friend was moderate in her purchases and the other was slightly immoderate, but like I said, she did score a very nice jacket.

We returned to the hotel with our bags of swag, had a moderate dinner of avocado and cheese and bread and nuts and headed off to see Chris Potter at the Gésu Centre. We'd asked our pal JD to give us a pro tip about what to see, and this is where he sent us. I, at least, was going in pretty blind, having seen little live jazz. It turned out to be pretty darn good! YouTube and Blogger don't always interact too well -- it's hard to make the video fit on my page, I find -- so I will just send you to here perhaps, or here. The audience was extremely enthusiastic, and we had very good seats in a venue where it seemed there could hardly have been a "bad" seat. A great call, JD.

Afterwards, of course, a drinky poo in a swanky hotel bar.

Too bad I don't like maraschino cherries
Next day we checked out, left our bags (now completely stuffed with our purchases, and we still had cheese and apples) and went off in search of the Papeterie Nota Bene*.

It was a fab shop! I seem to have felt a need for notebooks. I gave one to each kid and one to Stephen, and have two left for my own musings and immortal scribblings.

A bit more tramping around, this time up Boulevard St Laurent, home to smoked meat and more vintage stuff. Having stuffed our bags already, and then acquired more treasures at Nota Bene, we were just looking. And I believe we all succeeded in restraining ourselves, despite the temptations of, for example, a leopard-spotted faux fur scarf lined with fleece. It would have been delightful, but I was strong.

Finally, we bought some sandwiches for the train, gathered our bags and choo-choo'd back through the night to Toronto. (I still brought home three apples and an avocado!)

Friday, February 08, 2013

It's snowing

There's a lot of snow here today. It started yesterday afternoon and hasn't stopped.

The kids were a bit sad that school was not cancelled.

No barbecue tonight, I'm afraid.