Watermelon Roses

A collection of random thoughts, commentaries, and journaling. There is a lot to explore here, including links to other sites of mine. These are mostly for my own benefit, but guests are welcome to browse and explore as much or as little as they like.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Stir crazy.

We tagged along with K on his recent business trip to Montreal in Quebec, Canada. I felt more like I was in France than Canada. Other than my one trip to France (which was Disneyland Paris and doesn't really count, according to K,) I've never been anywhere where English was not the primary language. We had about three television stations in English. The music channels were in French, the cartoons and sitcoms were dubbed in French ... even Homer Simpson spoke French. There is apparently a "French First" law there, which meant that on menus, maps, and signs, we had to really search for the English that was sure to be hidden somewhere in fine print. When I called room service, the front desk, or the concierge, I had to assume that the incoherent voice speaking French on the other end of the line was really asking how they could help me, and not telling me to hold on or call back later.

This trip was a learning experience. I learned that the French speaking wait staff and counter help were slightly less offended by spoken English than by butchered attempts at French pronunciation. I learned that relying on public transportation means carrying a baby, holding tightly the hand of a three-year-old, carrying a purse, changing bag, and thermos (for making bottles,) and carrying a stroller, so that I wouldn't be lugging everything else around wherever we went. The stroller would have to be carried, rather than pushed, because to get to the subway from our hotel, one must go down two sets of narrow escalators and one set of stairs. To get out of the subway, it depends on where you end up. It could be any combination of stairs and escalators, but it's certain that there will be no elevators. In short, we didn't go anywhere or do anything, making repeated mental notes to rent a car next time, no matter how good the public transportation is. Even a taxi would be a hassle, because we'd be carrying car seats around wherever we went.

We had grey skies and rain the entire time, with the exception of about 5 minutes one afternoon when we caught a brief glimpse of blue sky and sun. I was also reminded that French food isn't really my style. I don't like fancy sauces and cooking methods ... I'll take ketchup and mayonnaise any day. They do make beautiful fruit salads, though, and I had a wonderful cherry and almond cake that almost made up for the humiliation of Layth overturning his chair and wailing like a banshee in an intimate French restaurant, drawing the attention of every one of the 30 or so patrons.

Since we spent so much time in our hotel (or strolling through the cold drizzle to Tim Horton's,) it was very lucky that we liked the hotel so much. It was the
Delta Centre-Ville, and we had a Signature Club room and a Delta Privilege membership that made our stay even better. The line for a taxi outside the airport was so long and smoky that we joined the much shorter limousine line instead. It wasn't a limo as we know it here in the States, though, but more of an estate car. Still, it was very roomy and luxurious, and we were very comfortable. We called the same company to pick us up for the return trip, and it went very smoothly. We're very glad to be home, and the moral of the story is this: Don't tag along on a business conference just for fun without first making sure there will be plenty for the children to do, and never ever rely on public transportation rather than renting a car if there are children along.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Road Rules

Like many wives, I find it hard to hold my tongue when my husband is driving. We have completely different sets of rules we go by on the road.

Nikki's Rules
1. Never go more than 8 miles above the posted speed limit. I've been stopped at 8 miles over, so I rarely go more than 7 miles over. However, if I do choose to go 80 miles an hour, I'm sure I have very good reasons and know what I'm doing. (Justin ... do as I say, not as I do.)
2. Keep a two-second distance between you and the car in front of you. This is important when I'm driving, but even more important when someone else is driving. I'm one of those nervous passengers who is sure no one else drives as well as she does.
3. Signal when you want to change lanes. If you don't signal, I'm not likely to let you in even if I see you trying to edge over, unless I'm in a very peaceful, unhurried mood. If I'm a passenger and you start complaining that no one will let you in when you haven't even signaled, I'm probably not going to be very sympathetic. If you miss the exit because no one would let you in because you didn't signal, I'll be even less so.
4. Get into the proper lane for your exit well ahead of time. A mile makes me happy. Don't forget to signal.
5. When you see that lanes are closed ahead, start signaling and move out of the closing lane as soon as you can. Once you're over, let people over who are trying to do the same thing. If you speed past me and everyone else and try to get over at the last possible second, I'm going to be rooting for people to make you sit and wait.
6. Don't drive the wrong way through the parking lot. Follow the arrows!

K's Rules
1. Speed limits? What speed limits? No need to even look at the signs. Just follow along behind the person in the secondmost left lane, and you'll surely never be ticketed. Speed limit signs on toll roads are merely for decoration. We pay for the privilege of using this road, so we can drive as fast as we like on it.

As you can see, our road rules aren't very compatible. Our solution: I drive most of the time if we're together. If he drives, he's prepared for what I call gentle reminders, and what he calls constant criticism, and I remember very quickly why I prefer to drive.