Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back seat conversations: the meaning of lyrics edition

So we were driving back from soccer one day last month, and "Kiss You (When it's Dangerous)" came on the radio. I've embedded the video above for those of you (my U.S and U.K. friends) who have probably never heard this 80s Ottawa band's most famous song.

And from the back seat came this conversation:

Leah [singing along]: ♫ ♪ I'll kiss you when it's dangerous. I'll kiss you then and only then. ♪

Rae: What do you think they mean by "kiss you when it's dangerous"? What does it mean?

Leah: I don't know.

Rae: Maybe it means that he will only kiss her if she's tied up on a moving conveyor belt with sharp knives on it.

Leah: Ummm....

Rae: And lasers.

Leah: Nah, it probably means that he's going to kiss her when she's mad at him and he might get slapped if he tries. So it's dangerous.

Rae: Like she's mad because he didn't buy her some shoes?

Leah: Exactly.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A public service announcement

Here is a picture of the people I nearly poisoned with toxic ribs earlier this month:

Well, actually, the body count would only have been 5 rather than 7.

So, here's the PSA:

Always, always, always defrost meat in the refrigerator. Don't leave two racks of frozen ribs out at room temp in the microwave to thaw overnight. Because if you do, they might grow copius amounts of bacteria and eating them could result in a trip to the ER.

When I went to put the ribs on the barbecue, the edges had turned a delicate emerald green.

(Joke: who are two people you don't want coming over for dinner? Sam and Ella.)

So, instead of my much-bragged-about barbecued ribs, we had hamburgers for supper. And we all survived.

This has been a public service announcement from the Let's Not Poison our Southern Neighbours Action Group.

(PSA #2: always have backup propane so you don't have to finish the hamburgers under the broiler -- the hamburgers you were serving instead of lethal ribs. A rookie mistake, not having a second tank, but I made that one too. ) I am *so* not Martha Stewart.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nice (n-ee-ce) was pretty nice (n-eye-ce)

Yes, I know I'm home, but you'll just have to put up with a couple more posts about what was the best vacation ever. No, wait. BEST. VACATION. EVER.

Nice (or maybe all of France, or all of Europe for that matter, I don't know for sure) is very different from Canada. Here are some random things I noticed:

  • Things are smaller (apartments, washing machines, refrigerators, supermarkets), and despite the crazy traffic and bus drivers who think they're driving in a Formula One race, life is slower paced.

  • Walking down the Promenade des Anglais, day or night, was the thing I liked to do best.

  • Best. Croissants. Ever.


Considering the above bullet point, it's strange that there are no overweight people here. Also, I have never seen so many attractive people in one place in my entire life.

  • Skin cancer does not seem to be a major concern in Nice. Everyone seems to be tanned to a deep toasty brown. Including the one woman we saw on several days down on the beach, clad only in a teeny yellow thong, a gold chain around her waist, and a Gilligan hat. Reading Emile Zola and eating nectarines, no less.

  • A real Nicoise Salad doesn't have any green beans or potatoes in it. But it does have lots of tuna, olives, radishes, tomatoes, hardboiled eggs and some anchovies.

  • Even though the Mediterranean Sea is salty and easy to float in

    I couldn't smell the sea the way you usually do at the seaside. But swimming in it will leave you all salty and with a bad case of Med Head until you shower.

  • Parking is a sport in Nice. People will park anywhere. On sidewalks. On corners. Double parking. You name it.

  • If you order anything with prawns (gambas) or shrimp (crevettes), be prepared to do some dissection. Most of the time in North America, shrimp are little pink commas of flesh when they're served to you. In Nice, they are cooked to a rosy red, but not peeled. Even in a curry sauce, you'll still see little eyes peering out at you, and little leg things waving.

    The upside is, that when you take the time to peel them, they taste better than any North American shrimp.

  • The Hotel Negresco is a truly fascinating place. The gorgeous architecture and eclectic art make it a place not to miss.

  • Wine there is really cheap and really good.

    Mostly we drank local varieties of rosé by the bottle, but we couldn't resist these single-serving glasses we found in the grocery store. Vive la France!

  • The default music type in any public space is jazz. It was playing on the tour boat we took to Monaco, and in those restaurants that had music playing. It was so nice. How nice was brought home rather forcefully when, on the long trip home, we ate lunch in a 'seafood' restaurant in the Newark airport and the soundtrack was Taylor Swift's greatest hits. Yeah.

  • You WILL gain weight in Nice (And Villefranche Sur Mer, and Monaco).

  • Oh. Yes. You. Will.

  • Banana split crepes. O.M.G.

    Warm goat cheese salad!!

    Moules et frites!!!


    I seem to have used up all my exclamation points.

    [I don't know why this is all different colours and underlined. HTML coding and I are not friends.]

    I think I would like to be dropped in a vat of Chantilly whipped cream. And left there

  • Lettuces, mangoes and nectarines from the greengrocers are ENORMOUS. And delicious. Really, really delicious.

  • The transit system -- the trains, trams and buses -- are clean and efficient and cheap. You can go a long way on the bus for a euro.

  • Even as far as Eze, which is probably the most picturesque place I've ever been.

  • This picture was taken from the boat from Nice to Monaco. You can see that Eze is perched right at the top of the mountain.

      So, to sum it all up, I can see why people retire to the South of France. Thanks, Dad, I'll never forget that trip.

      I can't wait to go back. Come on Lotto 649.

      Tuesday, August 16, 2011

      Canada and the U.S. are still friends and we were not disrespectful to the nun within her hearing

      So, I invited my friend Jen and her family (from Virginia) up to Ottawa for a visit. Jen's family and mine have vacationed together four summers now, and it was her turn to visit me, see our beautiful capital city, and check another UNESCO World Heritage site (the Rideau Canal) off her list.

      But what I didn't expect was that my mild-mannered American friend would almost cause an international incident by trying to smuggle a knife into the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings! (da da DA!) Well sort of...... OK, not really.

      Actually, it was an innocent mistake. She had forgotten about a small Swiss Army knife in her purse and had it confiscated by security on the way in. She was issued a chit to pick it up on the way out. We teased her a bit (OK, a lot) as our tour group (which included visitors from all over Canada, the States, Iran, the Philippines, and a trio of tiny, elderly nuns from Italy) moved from room to room.

      When the tour ended, Jen was able to retrieve her sharp, pointy weapon teeny-tiny Swiss Army knife from the security desk at the exit. Waiting in line in front of her was one of the elderly Italian nuns, who turned in her chit and was handed a small, sharp pair of sewing scissors by the security guard manning the desk.

      As soon as we were out of the nun's earshot, Jen turned to me and her husband and said, "That nun has a shiv." We all but collapsed laughing, and, inevitably, following the verbal template of this post, said, in unison, "This nun WILL cut you." Of course, the only logical way to follow this was to head across the street to a chip truck for some poutine, slog through an unexpected thundershower with the children back to the minivan, and then set off in search of the Beavertail stand in Byward market. That's just how we roll.

      By four thirty, we were safe at my house, towelling off and enjoying a rum and coke, and still saying 'shiv' out loud occasionally to make each other laugh.

      I hope making fun of a nun isn't too bad a sin.

      Jen's far, far funnier recounting of these events can be found here.

      Wednesday, August 03, 2011

      The French sense of humour, part deux

      While traversing the city on Sunday, on our way to the Port in order to buy tickets for our boat ride to Monaco, we walked through Place Garabaldi. There is a big statue in the middle of the square.

      Apparently, Mr. Garabaldi liked to play raquetball.