Saturday, 16 May 2009

Mind the gap

rainy, windy, cool temps 13

But - yesterday was gorgeous! We drove in to Montreal (after a breakfasting in cowansville, bien sur!). Dropped some boxes at the apartment, then headed north to Outremont. Perhaps the loveliest quartier of Montreal. In my books, Reine Marie and Armand live there. It's built just below Mont Royal and is filled with parks and mature trees, with gracious old row houses with outside stairs leading to the upper flats. No home is more than 3 floors high and each has a pocket garden, some planted with flowers some with vegetables. It's a rich area, culturally, with the Quebecois intelligencia and a large Hasidic community, as well as some Italian and Greek. And a few Anglos.

We were in town to meet Peter, who is the head of International Sales for Headline - my UK publishers. He was in Toronto for meetings and decided to fly to Montreal so we could talk over lunch. Plan strategy etc. We like Peter, and he included Michael which makes us like him even more.

I'd wondered what to waer but decided to go casual (no, not my flannels). A week or so ago we were also in town because an endowement we'd created at the Montreal Children's hospital had finally reached a level where the interest could be handed over to the head of research into childhood cancers. so there was a little ceremony. But I didn't think I'd make it because of a two important dental appointments - so I'd simply worn some old clothes.

but the appointments went much faster than planned and I had lots and time. I called Michae;l - yes, I could still make it. it was in 20 minutes. But I was in clothing only fit for dental dribble.

Oh oh.

I ran over to place Alexis Nihon - the ceremony was in a board room above it...but below were shops. I had 10 minutes to find something presentable to wear. I tore around there like a new reality show. Survivor Montreal. Believe it or not I found a really nice camisole and a lovely sweater.

So I wore those to see Peter too. I should shop under duress more often. god know, Michael does.

We wanted Peter to get a taste of French Montreal, and we know Lili and David have a home in that area, so we asked and she suggested the restaurant Lemeac, on Laurier.

Perfect. I made reservations, we drove up, parked - arriving intenionally early so we could wander. It's acxtually forgotten how lovely it is. laurier is stuffed with boutiques and bistros, cheese places, pastry shops, cafes, bookstores. In fact, we met Peter wandering up and down too. He'd arrived early. so we all went into a French bookstore and browsed.

then off to lunch. It was sunny and mild and I'd asked for a table on the terrasse. We were placed beside a lilac bush, with fresh flowers. It was beautiful and fragrant...the whole thing felt magical. Including the meal. Michael and peter had the calves liver...I had the scallops. We ended with cafe au laits and creme brules - though Michael had a line of mini-profiterols. I didn't think we'd get him out of there.

then we zipped home.

It's the long weekend in Quebec...Victoria day for the anglos...and patriots Day for the Francophones. Oh well. Neither can claim higher ground.

Susan was coming out for the weekend, and coming over for dinner. As you know we think of susan as a sister, so we don't go to much trouble...some salads, a fruit salad for dessert and a confit de canard on the BBQ. When we'd left that morning we'd gone by the cottage to leave off some flowers and a message...

Welcome. Hope the drive was good. See you for dinner. Love, Michael and louise. PS, try not to fall into the big hole of crap.

Yes - a big hole of crap has opened up on the lawn of the guest cottage. Normally we'd blame susan but sadly it appeared before she did.

I do wonder if it's karmic. Piles of bear crap on our lawn, we just clean that up when the septic whatever yawns open next door. It's everywhere.

So this morning, before the rains came, Monsieur Cote arrived to look into it and pass judgement.

Yup - it's crap.
Yup - it's a very old septic system.
Yup - you need to replace it.
Nope - it's not free. And apparently we can't pay in dog biscuits either.

It's always something.

Happily, the lovely Susan came for dinner last night - and brought not only herself but homemade granola and a birthday gift for Michael since she couldn't make the party. Eccles Cakes. Susan makes the best.

So, once again, Michael and I ate our troubles away. We understand that's a healthy thing to do.

Will let you know tomorrow what other piece of crap falls on us. However, I have to admit, it still smells sweet, and far more good stuff lands on us than bad. Really, who doesn't have an effluent hole in their front lawn. Just one more conversation piece.

If you see me coming at a cocktail party - run.


lil Gluckstern said...

What a great post to go with lunch here on the West coast. I'm glad you found clothes, and had a fine time before you came to home to your, ah, mess. Sometimes, I think like the Greeks, and figure the gods are just balancing things out. Sometimes, I think, "it's an old septic system." What's the line-life happens while you're making plans? We'll just buy some more books.

K said...

Louise --

Was in desperate need of a 'Louise Penny fix' -- that wonderful ability of yours to portray the seemingly mundane in a whole new light, written with humor and in an erudite vein -- and then I remembered that I could catch up with your comings and goings on your blogspot. So, I went back to the beginning of May and read it all in one fell swoop.
Thank the Universe that you've been writing on the blog as well as your newest book, as I can hardly wait till fall for the newest published addition! I may be forced to re-read the others whilst I wait.....not that I am complaining...
I must have been living in a hole (one that is not septically-related) for some time as I was not aware that you had WON the Agatha! So, congratulations on that coup.
You deserve every award/nomination/gold star, etc. that you receive and I can never see you losing your thrill -- so pinch yourself again, pat yourself on the back from me, and YIPPEE!!!

Thanks for the dose of well-written sanity,
Karen, who is sitting in her bookstore in Washington State, and is more than thankful for wonderful writers!

off kilter said...

Merci for taking me back in my mind to Outremont. Last August, we ate at Les Moules. Je suis Americaine fatigue, I said to the hostess, who replied, Would you like to speak English? Best mussels I ever ate. Followed by a lovely walk through the Hasidic market area. Congrats on the Agatha!

Lee Ann said...

We once had a problem similar to yours with the ancient septic system. Except ours was the main (sewer) drain to the street. For *ten days* a backhoe sat in our miniscule front yard while plumbers dug around trying to find what turned out to be broken ceramic pipe. People would point and laugh whenever they drove by.

If nothing else, it solved the mystery of why that dogwood had always looked so healthy.

On the other hand, Montreal sounds lovely! And I bet it has working plumbing.

Lee Ann

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Lil,

Wise as always, and that's where I try to end up - realizing that s*** happens...but mostly in my life, wonderful things happen. I got up in the middle of the night to use the washroom and on the way back to bed I remembered to thank God for our health. How huge is that? Everything else pales. though - to be honest - being able to flush is useful.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Karen,

What a lovely comment! Thank you - and I can just imagine you in your bookstore in Washington State (I ADORE Seattle and wish I knew more of the state). Thank you for being SO supportive! And hope you like the new one.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Off Kilter,

LOVED your comment! And, if it makes you feel better, they switched to English for us too! And gave us English menus - actually doing it to be kind, but it does crush the ego a bit...and ego leak.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Lee Ann,

you really do crack me up - with that Dogwood comment! I need to just remember that while it will be a mess for a while in a few weeks or months we won't even see the mess...and we'll have a brand new system. That's a lot to remember, but I'll try.