Saturday, August 16, 2014

Montréal: history museum

Natalie and I were a bit reluctant to agree when Granddad suggested the museum housing info on Montreal's history. But, it was very interesting.
Photos here show Montréal's time capsule, with 20 boxes, each containing an item available in the year 2000. Objects for inclusion were suggested by the public, and were thought to be representative of, and importance to, this time. Natalie thinks a Brittany Spears CD will be one of the items. It's scheduled to be opening in 2100, so I'll never know. But, Natalie will be 101, and just has to wait 86 years!
The second photo is part of an earlier excavation of this site, and shows about 1/5th of the cemetery of the first white settlers. Somewhere around 38 people were found. One of the 38 died of natural causes. The rest died by Indian attack or accident, with one dying of an unknown cause.
Notice the wooden encased rectangle. It's the remains of a latrine, put in a couple of hundred years later, with no knowledge of the cemetery.
We enjoyed at least three hours here, looking at artifacts, a pirate exhibition and a special exhibition on Marco Polo, which included a short film made in the 1990's by two men from the Bronx, who recreated Marco Polo's journey. Sadly, that exhibition allowed no photos, so I made  a few drawings in my book.

Montréal: lunch

We're back in the US, working on our second all-day drive. I'm trying to catch up on the blog, so bear with me.

I am a bit disappointed that all the large picture files I attached to the last post didn't go through.

After our basilica tour, we took a carriage ride with André, and his horse, Duke.

Then Natalie chose Japanese for lunch. She had teriyaki chicken and shrimp tempura, we had the special sushi lunch.

We continued walking, and I found this lovely Art Deco building offering luxury apartments for rent.

Montreal: a little history

Our tour guide at the Basilica was a cute, young, French speaking woman. First thing, she asked us where we all were from: US, Australia, Greece, Italy, Bangladesh, Canada.
"Anyone know who was the founder of Montréal?" she asked in a cute French accent. Silence. "Maybe you have seen his statue just across from the cathedral." And so it was.
We learned that, in 1642, Maisonneuvre founded the French colonie of Ville Marie, dedicated to, who else, the Virgin Mary. In 1726, the colonie becomes the city of Montréal.
The white stone outside the west door marks the outline of the original small church, which was torn down in the early 1800's to make way for the building of Notre Dame. Ironically, an Irish Protestant architect was chosen to build this Catholic church. The architect's design included a 70' x 35' stained glass window behind the altar. It must have been spectacular. But, the sun came blazing through the glass each morning, blinding the faithful, as well as leaving the church too hot. So, a wall was built, and painted blue, to entirely cover the window.
Later, the 32,000 seat church was too big, so a smaller, 300 seat chapel, with accompanying 1,200 pipe organ, was built. Now, the large stained glass window was entirely hidden on both sides. And forgotten, until 1972, when an arsonist burned down the chapel. Today, the chapel is modern, and exposes all that could be saved of the original stained glass window, the King of France and the Apostle Peter, or Paul.
The church was designated a basilica, in the not too distant past, because of the beauty and richness of it's decoration.

Montreal: Basilica 1

It's hard to believe that it's only a week today that Natalie performed in King Lear. I feel as if I've been on the road for months.
We left Stratford, Ontario just 6 days ago, arriving in  Montréal, Québec Province quite late.
The next day was gorgeous. We walked to the old city, less than a mile from our hotel, and took a tour of the Basilica de Notre Dame.
Here's the altar, the 7,000 pipe organ and a shot of Natalie with a pregnant woman, who found a good place to nap.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Quebec: view from our hotel

We arrived in Quebec City yesterday around 2:30 pm. Here's the view from our 17th floor window. Not bad, eh? Église Saint-Roch. My fellow pilgrims would remember seeing his statue. He was a pilgrim, but too Rome.
It's 75% chance of rain today, after a sunny day yesterday.
First thing we did yesterday was walk to Jumbo Jumbo, one of two recommended coiffeurs. Natalie has an appointment at 12:30 pm with Elizabeth, who - we are told - speaks good English. I was hoping she'd get one of the stylish young men we saw cutting. But, the salon looks good, hip, and fun! In fact, I'm jealous.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aller au Quebec

We're heading Northeast on the QC-20 for Quebec City. All new roads for us now.
We're passing through farm land now, and Natalie was the first to notice the smell of manure in her nostrils.
   "It smells like pigs!"
   "Not pigs, it's horses or cows," says I.
   Martin chimes in, "Or as my uncle used to say, 'it's the smell of money'."
     I chime in with, "And your Mother would say, 'there's that fine country smell."
And so it goes this early afternoon.
We started the day with Nutella and banana crèpes. Then a consultation with a hair stylist. Granddad told Natalie that her hair was boring, that she needed it to be metallic red. Her Mother has already told her that she cannot dye her hair. But, it weighs heavy on her mind. The stylist advised against the color she chose because she has some very light blond in her hair, and he said it would turn pink - sort of a light fuschia. We spent 15 minutes or more talking to him, but so far, no real action has taken place, so far. HUM?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Good morning, Montreal!!!

Guess what? You're in bed with me. Cosy isn't, just you and me. Martin went for coffee, Natalie is slowly coming back to this earth from her deep much needed sleep, and I am excited to get out on the street and speak some French.
What fun I had last evening speaking in that language!  No sooner did we pull up in the only small space in front of the hotel, a young man in uniform approached the car, and the trial by fire began. I rolled down the window and he spoke, "Bonjour, Madame!" Followed by a lightening speed bombardment of French. I was unfamiliar with his accent, but one word jumped out, "reservation". My brain is racing around, and when he finishes his question, I say , "Oui!" To my surprise. I also hear Martin saying "Oui" at the same time.
My ears and mind were now ready to hear French, and a good thing they were. The concierge sent out another barrage of instructions in French. I got the gist of it. Yeah! Good listening skills are what come of hanging out in classes with a native speaking teacher and advanced students who speak well. More later, got to hit the shower and go out into French speaking Montréal!!!!!!!! :)

Canada: Moving Forward

Saturday, August 9, 2014
Mixed feelings this morning. We're in the car heading for Montreal. It's about a 7-3/4 hr. drive from Stratford.
On one hand, I'm looking forward to revisiting Montreal, speaking some French, but, we've had such an amazing theatre immersion.
Plays we saw:
"Christina, the Girl King", by contemporary Canadian playright, Michael Marc Bouchard (with excellent translation by Linda Gaboriau)
"The Beaux Stratagem", a magnificent comedy, by George Farquhar.
"King Lear", by The Bard, starring Colm Feore.
"Alice Through the Looking Glass", by Lewis Carroll, adapted for stage by James Reaney.
"King John", by William Shakespeare, starring Tom McCamus.
"Crazy for You", the New Gershwin Musical, music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, book by Ken Ludwig.
"King Lear", acted by The Queen's Company", starring our Granddaughter, Natalie Lynch - and her class of 21 young actors.
"Man of La Mancha", written by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh, Lyrics by Joe Darion.
That is a lot of theatre for 6 days!!!!
I managed to do 5 paintings: one landscape (overtop an old painting). Not a great painting, but a good warmup; and four lily pond paintings - three of which I can frame immediately!
We had some interesting and delicious meals at Mercer Hall, Stratford Thai Cuisine, a beautiful chickpea with fresh veggies and mustard sandwich from Canadian Grub, nice salads from Bentley's and Molly Blooms, one beautiful British Columbian whiskey called Revelstoke (Bentley's), and a delightful Dillon's Canadian Gin, plus a magnificent Australian Sauvignon Blanc (Mercer Hall). One evening by the Avon River, we shared two chunks of cheese, recommended by the frommageur, (French soft one from Basse Normanie & a hard Italian) and complimented with a few dried dates, plus baguette.
We stayed in two B&B's: The Knight's Inn, run by Michael, from Surrey, England via Toronto. Michael is subtle, but able to deliver just the perfect zinger at the right moment to enliven a conversation. At his B&B, we met three Ohio women, two of whom live within 15 to 30 miles of us, and one who's sister lives in my neighborhood! Two days ago we met two charming and optimistic women from Detroit who took advantage of the $30 bus from Detroit to Stratford.
Our last morning, we lingered over tea at the breakfast table for an engaging 2-1/2 hour chat with our host, and a Canadian couple. Jane started off the conversation by saying how much they "enjoy watching the politics across the border for it's entertaining and mind boggling qualities." Ian was amazed at the cost of our last election process, a staggering $33,000,000,000. Their last election was $300,000,000. 1000x less! That's a lot of zeros. We rambled on about Scottish games, roundabouts,  how easy it is to get into a fight in a pub in England, and let the conversation travel it's easy path to enlightenment.
We changed B&B's and stayed at Curtain Call B&B for one night, with Natalie. The propriortors bought this B&B 8 years ago and have made many rennovations. James is a professional chef, who, for 17 years, once ran his own restaurant in Newfoundland, but his wife, Angie, did the cooking and booking keeping. They are people persons for sure, he directs all the action, serves, chats and tells jokes, and is not shy about throwing in a few cuss words, or giving a bit of cooking instruction. At table with us was a couple from Rochester, NY, who got engaged at this B&B, and have come back for the last 12 years.
Yesterday's Queen's Company performance was amazing, complex, and well acted. The youngest actor was 12, the oldest was, Natalie, at age 14. Lear is heavy drama, with lots of intrigue, sword fighting, and the torturous seen with The Duke of Cornwall cutting out the eyes of The Duke of Gloucester. It doesn't take much in the way of props - a gold trimmed velvet cloak, some makeshift blades, and a mask or two, to spark the imagination.
Now, after 2 hours in the car, we have only done an hours worth of travel. We're caught up in the stop and go traffic on the 401 around Toronto. We are passing an old Quebecor Plant where Martin worked several times in passed years. And I knew that I'd be very sorry that I didn't buy the soundtrack from "Man of La Mancha".

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Theater Sketches

I've been doing a lot of sketching over the past few weeks. And now, we"re back in Stratford, Ontario for the Shakespeare Festival. First night, we saw "Christina, the Girl King", by a contemporary French Canadian playwright. The English translation was outstanding, as were the costumes.
I was thrilled by the use of shadow in the opening scene (especially since I had been posing my granddaughter in just such a manner at home) and quickly retrieved my sketchbook from my purse. It was dark, so I started with blind contour. Later, when there was slightly more light, I was able to capture a couple sketches that were slightly more studied.