28 May 2015

à écouter (2)

Vous aussi, dans votre enfance, vous avez rêvé de devenir égyptologue? Pierre Tallet parle avec passion du quotidien de ce métier sur Les Savanturiers. (Et si ce n'est déjà fait, abonnez-vous au Salon noir!)

Un peu de lecture, Ça peut pas faire de mal! Guillaume Gallienne interprète, joue avec beaucoup de subtilité et de sensibilité les extraits de romans qu'il choisit. Il vient d'entamer un cycle Zola : La Curée, L'Assommoir, Germinal...

22 May 2015

à écouter (1)

Je suis depuis longtemps très friande de baladiffusions (podcasts). Je passe chaque jour de nombreuses heures, écouteurs bien enfoncés dans les oreilles, à m'informer notamment sur la philosophie, l'histoire et la littérature. (Mes favoris se trouvent d'ailleurs ici.)

J'ai donc pensé partager de temps à autre des émissions qui m'ont particulièrement intéressée ou émue. Pour commencer, en voici deux :

- sur Le Temps des écrivains, un long entretien avec l'écrivain, sémiologue, etc. Umberto Eco, entre autres sur son tout nouveau roman, Numéro Zéro (je préfère de loin ses essais, bien que Le Pendule de Foucault soit devenu un de mes livres préférés); c'est toujours un plaisir d'entendre cet homme si brillant et si espiègle!

- sur Les Femmes, toute une histoire, on parle du rôle des femmes (souvent très jeunes) dans la Résistance en France lors de la 2e Guerre mondiale, et de l'expérience de celles internées à Ravensbrück, alors que deux d'entre elles entreront bientôt au Panthéon; le site de l'émission montre quelques photos extrêmement touchantes et mentionne plusieurs autobiographies de survivantes.

20 May 2015


From the oval-shaped flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with spots of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end. The petals were voluminous enough to be stirred by the summer breeze, and when they moved, the red, blue and yellow lights passed one over the other, staining an inch of the brown earth beneath with a spot of the most intricate colour. The light fell either upon the smooth grey back of a pebble, or the shell of a snail with its brown circular veins, or, falling into a raindrop, it expanded with such intensity of red, blue and yellow the thin walls of water that one expected them to burst and disappear. Instead, the drop was left in a second silver grey once more, and the light now settled upon the flesh of a leaf, revealing the branching thread of fibre beneath the surface, and beneath the dome of the heart-shaped and tongue-shaped leaves. Then the breeze stirred rather more briskly overhead and the colour was flashed into the air above, into the eyes of the men and women who walk in Kew Gardens in July.
                                                                                                                                               Kew Gardens, Virginia Woolf

29 November 2014


M. Mabeuf avait pour opinion politique d'aimer passionnément les plantes, et surtout les livres. Il possédait comme tout le monde sa terminaison en  iste, sans laquelle personne n'aurait pu vivre en ce temps-là, mais il n'était ni royaliste, ni bonapartiste, ni chartiste, ni orléaniste, ni anarchiste; il était bouquiniste.
                                                                                                                                      Les Misérables, Victor Hugo

22 October 2014

what we've been up to


Well, I haven't been around as much as I'd planned... There's a variety of (mostly boring) reasons, but I thought I'd pop in to wave and let you know that I haven't entirely abandoned this space.

However, I'm spending most of my time and energy these days on another project, in French: C'est ben simple! Thus far, I've mostly shared super simple "recipes", but eventually there'll be more on there about other aspects of making everyday life less complicated. I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but there are so many blogs on simple/frugal living, but so few in French, that I thought it might be worth sharing my "experience" (how pretentious that sounds!).

In other news, Rebus has been on Fluoxetine for almost 3 months now, and things are still going very well. The changes in his behaviour are really remarkable, but the one that really brings tears to my eyes is that he no longer hides when strangers come around! He comes right out and says hello, as he used to do when I first adopted him, before all the moves and disruptions! I'm so happy that people get the chance to meet him and pet him and enjoy his sweet personality and laugh at his antics. He's my big swirly cinnamon bun again!

13 September 2014

an update about Rebus


I haven't mentioned Rebus for a while — 5 months, in fact — and I thought it was about time to let those of you who might be interested what has been going on of late.

We persisted for as long as possible with the milder medication (Zylkène), but even with 2 pills a day Rebus still needed 3 vigorous play sessions daily... and even then he might display unpredictable predatory behaviour. It was extremely frustrating, and I was getting exhausted from constantly having to remain vigilant around him. I'm sure he could sense my tension, which didn't help at all.

When I first consulted our veterinarian back in February, she explained that there were two types of medication available when dealing with problematic behaviour in cats: a mild one and a very powerful one. The vet technicians told me that the latter was "heavy duty stuff", that they'd heard it made cats almost unrecognisable and practically turned them into zombies. Well, there was no way I was going to do that to my Rebus! I fought the idea for months and months, in spite of the glaringly obvious fact that the mild stuff wasn't working. (I did investigate other possibilities such as homeopathic vets, but there are no practitioners in my area.)

Everyone has a breaking point, and mine came in July. I had a lengthy phone conversation with our vet about the actual side effects of the more powerful medication. Although she was less of an alarmist than the technicians, she said that Rebus could become very anxious and aggressive, or on the contrary be completely lethargic, and even pee and poo outside the litterbox. But, she stressed, these were potential side effects, and the dosage could be reduced if any of these things occurred. After sleeping on it, I thought it was worth the risk.

This new medicine is called Fluoxetine, which is another name for Prozac. (Yes, I know.) The directions said to administer it once every two days, then once a day if there was no problem. I was a bundle of nerves on the first morning, following Rebus around and peeking worriedly into the laundry room each time he used his litterbox. His pupils were slightly dilated, and he slept a bit more than usual, but wasn't at all groggy when he woke up. He ate and drank as usual. There were no litterbox-related mishaps. He played as enthusiastically as normally did. As the first couple of weeks passed, there were really only a couple of very minor incidents — almost nothing compared with his previous behaviour.

Since everything was going so well, and with the support of our vet, I've continued to give Rebus his chicken-flavoured chew every other day instead of once a day. It's having the desired effect, so we see no point in giving him more medicine than he needs. (I confess, my bank account is quite happy with this decision too — that stuff is expensive!)

Do I feel good about giving Prozac to my cat? Obviously, I'd rather not! We did give the alternative an earnest try. It didn't work. This medicine does work, without impairing my cat's quality of life or turning him into a drugged-up bundle of fur or a wild beast.

And how is Rebus? Well, *fingers crossed* I'd say he's almost back to his old loving, snuggly, silly self!

29 August 2014

Thank you, thank you, thank you...

... for the kind birthday wishes! Yesterday was filled with reading and tea, and was capped with a corn boil dinner at my parents'. I came home with a full assortment of my mother's jams and pickles, which I'm sure will take some of the sting out of next winter.

(Below is the lovely hand-painted plate my sister and brother-in-law gifted me when we visited earlier this month.)


14 July 2014

nectarine dream


When I moved to downtown Victoriaville, my first preoccupation was to find new places to shop for groceries. One of the entries that caught my eye in the Yellow Pages (this should tell you how long ago this happened) was "Fruits Santa Rosa," with an address on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Street just a minute's walk from my apartment. The name made it sound like a wholesaler's warehouse; was it also open to the public? I decided to investigate.

Up and down the street I went, repeatedly looking at the address I'd scribbled on the palm of my hand and at the numbers affixed to facades. I was sure I had the correct address, but there was nothing there... just an empty, abandoned-looking parking lot and a squarish concrete building set well back, with a grey garage door.

I stood on the sidewalk for a moment, a little disappointed. Then, just as I turned to go back home, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. Someone had exited the anonymous building through a chipped metal door to the left of the garage door, carrying a white plastic bag. I approached with hesitant steps, opened the door, and stepped into a bare, chilly space that was indeed a warehouse. I could see that refrigerated counters lined two of the walls, while assorted tables and racks down the centre of the wide open room held boxes, tins, and a variety of bulk products in neatly piled bags.

No one questioned my presence, so I took possession of one of the rickety carts near the door and pushed it over the uneven concrete floors, producing a most satisfying racket while I explored this unexpected Aladdin's cave. Super cheap tofu! Massive tubs of olives! Exotic spice mixes in colourful metal containers! A huge variety of rice and grains! In a smaller adjoining room, bottles of oil in a glass-doored refrigerator and shelves crammed with cartons of every kind of plant-based milk imaginable! And near the cash register (under which, I soon learned, sat a box where the employee at the till, after asking the client's permission, placed the leaves from the bunches of carrots they purchased for one of the employees' horse), I discovered locally-made rustic oatmeal cookies with jam filling that became my favourite weekend breakfast.

But the produce! Oh, the produce! As the seasons changed, my devotion to Santa Rosa could only increase; I visited every 2 or 3 days to check on new arrivals. I'd never known what "real" apples looked like before! And I knew it was truly summer when I saw the punnets of local berries ranged on dollies in front of the store.

One summer, a bushel of large, sun-bright nectarines caught my attention – or rather, it was their sweet perfume that lured me straight to them. They were perfectly ripe, as rarely happens in grocery stores. I bought four, had two for dessert that evening, ate the other two at breakfast the next morning, and picked up a few more while running errands that day. Over the following week, the happy-making scent of nectarines floated throughout my entire apartment. I must have eaten a dozen a day, sometimes over a bowl, more often standing at the kitchen sink so I could let the golden juice run down my arms freely, knowing that its fragrance would be absorbed into my skin and later perfume my bedclothes. Each was absolutely glorious.

As soon as nectarine season was over, I started eagerly anticipating the next summer. Alas, such superlative fruit never made another appearance.

I moved away a few years later, and have only gone back to Victoriaville once since. Among the favourite places I revisited was the vacant-looking building at the back of the empty parking lot – but this time, a faded "To Let" sign was hanging crookedly across the garage door. Santa Rosa and its hidden treasures were gone.

Part of me still wonders... was it all a mirage?