Saturday, September 7, YUL. The flight was uneventful, and the plane got in more or less on time. Hertz gave me a nice upgrade to a Volvo station wagon, and I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to go straight to Magog and Andrea Terni. Not very long into the drive the weather went very bad on me, and I drove through a lot of rain and construction cones. That part wasn’t much fun, but there was fun waiting for me in the form of a nice steak, sweet potatoes and probably too much wine.
We stayed up until about one, drinking wine and swapping stories, catching up. Andrea has a man in her life again. His name is Jim and he’s very nice and pulls his weight around the place and then some. She’s very lucky and she knows it. I hope he wasn’t too upset with us old drinking buddies.
Sunday, it was a little hard getting up, but a night like that resets the body clock and I was fine. I didn’t get to play tourist in Magog, because I had calls and paperwork aplenty. The reason I have been talking about so much paperwork can now be told. I was buying a condo in Montreal and the offer went in from Iceland.
I am moving back to Montreal, effective some time around the beginning of December. I am sorry, but I just can’t live with the fear of fire. I feel so safe and happy in Montreal. I have bought a condo in Cours Mont Royal – at least there’s an accepted offer and a mortgage is being organized. It’s on the underground city and I’ll be cruising most of the winters, anyway. And… it’s home. It always will be.
I’m certainly not leaving because I have no friends in California. I have many wonderful ones, but it is what’s right for me. I have been sleeping like a log ever since I made the decision, which was around the first of August. I see the city coming back gangbusters, after a long slow period. There is a wave to be caught and I am catching it, before prices for the good stuff go out of my reach.
By the time I had done my phone calls and paperwork, and a couple of small loads of washing, it was time to visit the SAQ, to buy wine for my hosts. Andrea came with me and we just kept on chatting. Then we went back, and I got some exercising and yoga done in her yoga studio. We were due at Page and Andrea Fairchild’s on the other side of the lake at 5:30 pm. Page’s grandfather bought a huge piece of prime property on Lake Memphremagog in 1912. Page and Andrea live in one of the original houses on it, to which they have been adding steadily over the years. It is absolutely charming. The property, which is now owned by a lot of family members, includes a wonderful Sandy beach. I took this gorgeous picture at sunset from Page’s own beachfront.
We had drinks and appies there and then went into downtown Magog to a very nice Italian restaurant called Alessa. I can heartily recommend it for all but the noise level, but we managed, and it was a very nice evening out.
Monday morning, I was on the road again, back to Montreal and my second opinion doctor’s appointment with Linda Snell. I had to get there an hour early because the paperwork isn’t funny, if you aren’t in the Canadian medical system. I had to check in downstairs, then again on Linda’s floor, then go back downstairs to pay for the hospital visit, then back upstairs to pay Linda directly. Anyway, it’s good to have one of Montreal’s very best docs take a look, once a year. She prescribed Symbacort for my cough that just won’t quit, and I had the prescription filled before I checked in to the Symanskys’ for the night.
I shared the condo news with them, settled in just a bit, and went to pick up Justine and Wendy for dinner with Linda and Bev. They too had chosen an Italian restaurant. This one was Il Cortile on Sherbrooke, easy walking from my new digs, as well as from Linda and Bev’s apartment up the hill. This is one smart, powerful group of women, and I got a lot of very useful advice. By then the counter-offer was in and my panel agreed I should accept it, since it was only $5,000 more than what I had said was my limit. This was no time to quibble. Smarten up, Helen.
So, Tuesday morning, I signed, and went to see my Royal Bank Manager, who put me on to his mortgage counselor and the train started to roll. The Condo Association’s AGM just happened to be that night and the seller offered to take me. That’s an offer you can’t refuse. I ended up having an early dinner in Chalet BBQ, with Janet from 61 Chesterfield, which had just just sold in about three days. I never found out the sale price but asking was $1.8M, which makes Adam and Judy, at 63, pretty happy.
The Annual General Meeting went until almost nine, but there are no special assessments on the horizon, so it was a good one and it was time to move out to Ile Bizard.
I didn’t get there until about ten. The door was open, but no dog rushed to meet me. It was all very quiet. Ginger has hay fever from the ragweed that the floods brought in, so I didn’t want to wake her if she was asleep, but I was starting to worry that Scruffy may be no more. I must have been in the kitchen for twenty minutes before he finally appeared, followed by Ginger. Poor old Scruff has gone deaf, it seems. Dogs suffer from old age, too.
Wednesday, I woke up on Ginger’s fabulous estate. It had been hit hard by floods and battered by melting ice, the last two years, so there’s a lot of heavy equipment on the property, and the work goes on. Ginger will be in residence there all month managing it. It’s still plenty gorgeous, though, and I am privileged to be able to stay there. I was determined to get my exercises done, before my body seized up on me, which it very well can do. Ginger’s closet is her exercise room. It’s a pretty big closet. We moved a scatter rug in and I got going on my yoga exercises. Somewhere in the middle, while I was rotating and stretching, the rug started to spin, at speed. I raised myself up on my elbows and waited for it to stop. Then I sat up and waited some more. This is scary stuff. I took it pretty easy for the rest of the day, but, while the problem didn’t return, I still felt shaky, by late afternoon. So, I called Bev and asked her to have Linda call me when she got home. She diagnosed Benign Positional Vertigo over the phone and said it would go away by itself in a couple of days but that I had better Uber to Dinner tonight. Ginger wasn’t feeling well enough to come.
So I Uber’d in to the city to meet the Morneaus, Brunets and Symanskys at a wonderful BYOB on Villeray called, of all things, TANDEM. We had a fantastic five-course tasting menu, with great wines, and there I was, barely drinking. Sad, that, but still a lot of fun and an absolutely top-notch meal. I wasn’t taking notes, but there was foie gras and steak, scallops, fish… all very French Laundry at a small fraction of the price. That can become an annual event very easily. What am I saying? It can be more often, now.
Luckily, I felt well enough to drive on Thursday morning, as I had a dental appointment in Cornwall, an hour-and-a-half west. It was a nice sunny day, perfect for driving. I didn’t feel quite so well after two hours in the dental chairs, getting a couple of crowns replaced and a good cleaning. I was up for my cousin Rosemary’s steak and corn dinner, though. There’s nothing like Canadian corn, in season. John, my dentist, cooked the steaks. I like that. His wife, Joanne, is a physio and highly recommended the fellow I already had an appointment with for Friday morning. I had done that from John’s office, after his hygienist recommended. This is a physio who specializes in BPPV, the vertigo thing, and I was lucky to get a cancellation.
So, on Friday morning, I went to see him, but Linda was right. I didn’t have it any more. I did learn a lot about it, though. It was worth the hour of my time and the $90. Then I had a quiet lunch with Rosemary, at ESCA, who make interesting pizzas. I got back to Ginger’s in time to hit the liquor store and the supermarket for party fixings. Our guests were arriving at six. President’s Choice makes nice bake-able appetizers, just like Trader Joe in California. This party included Ginger, Rod and Claude, Jo Ann, Chris and Marge, and Adam and Judy. Only Adam and Judy didn’t get much, as WAZE had directed them by the Laval-Ile Bizard ferry, which was backed up for an hour. It only takes six cars and rush hour can be a nightmare. But they did get to see Ginger’s house, after all, before we all went out for dinner at the Royal Montreal Golf Club, nearby.
It wasn’t the gourmet food you’d get at Tandem, nor what we got at Chris and Marge’s last year, but it was good enough and it was quiet. Quiet is huge. We were able to talk to each other and we all had a wonderful time. We drank too much wine, I fear, but we usually do. Luckily, we still can. Huge thanks to Rod and Ginger who split the bill and wouldn’t let me step up to it. I’ll be entertaining them big time when I am a Montrealer again.
Saturday, Ginger and I just nursed our hangovers, which weren’t all that bad, and had a quiet dinner at home. Steak and corn again. You can’t beat it this time of year. The wonderful mille-feuille from the local bakery was a bonus. Ginger and I are a pair of old shoes. Even though we disagree on things like politics and religion, we respect each other’s right to her opinion and we never actually argue. It’s comfortable and very, very nice.
Sunday, I went to the flea market in Ste. Genevieve with Monique, another very old friend. It was fun. She goes every Sunday and all the dealers know her. She spends fifty or sixty dollars, gets books, jewelry and décor items, and gives most of them away. You get thoughtful, recycled, cheap presents from Monique and she expects you will give them away when you are done with them. Good theory, that.
Then we had a nice big bacon and eggs breakfast and I went back to Ginger’s. We moved to her town house in the late afternoon, to be ready for the following morning, and walked out to dinner at Marcus, in the Four Seasons. We had a beautiful meal. This one I remember, even though we drank too much wine, again. There was corn bread in the bread basket and we had all we could eat of it. My appetizer was spicy tuna tartare and my main was scallops and lobster. Ginger had a green salad and salmon, and we shared a dessert that had a fancy name which, we renamed “good chocolate goo”. This place is even closer to my new place than it is to Ginger’s. We are only eight short blocks apart. On the way between our houses, we pass a couple of beautiful old churches, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Ritz, Holt Renfrew, the Chateau Apartments. It’s about half of Montreal’s Golden Mile. I’m excited.
Monday, we went to the condo and measured, so Valerie Lasker can do CAD with the floor plan and our measurements. I am going to have to buy a couple of sofas for the living room, and I am going to make them hide-a-beds. Then the house will sleep seven. Y’all come.
If you want to see my condo, google 1001 Place Mt Royal, apt 1207. It’s pretty swish. It has windows on three sides, so it’s lovely and bright, has nice high ceilings, and looks out on the corner of Peel and Ste. Catherine. It sits on top of the underground city. I can walk miles without going outside and I can hop a Metro to Place des Arts or take a train to Cornwall from Central Station. I think there’s a train to Laval, too. Most of Montreal’s best restaurants are within walking distance, as is McGill. It’s a life-changer. I expect it will make me younger and that’s a goal, too.
Minmin Chang said:
Helen, I always enjoy reading your travel log, but this one makes me very nostalgic since H.K. and I have called Montreal home for 8 years (1976-1984, on Chesterfield), and our two children grow up there. It is this experience which prompted our son moved to Vancouver from NUC 10 years ago. We have a condo in Van and spend the summer and winter in this beautiful city.
Your future home sounds lovely! Hopefully, we will have a chance to cruise with you, or, visit you in Montreal, or, meet you in Hong Kong, or, in Vancouver 🙂
Peter Aglaganian said:
Glad to hear that you will be back in MONTREAL 🙂 Hope to see ya soon. Peter
You sound soooo happy and that is what we want for you! Good luck with the move and be sure to give out exact address…birthday card ‘ya know. Love Skippy
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Judy Symansky said:
This must have been a lot of work! And WHAT a sunset.
Diane shipley said:
Helen! Remember us from the wonderful cruise we were on together? So happy for your move. We are doing great, except for a few health issues, but what can you expect at 82 and 71 years old! Life is good! Keep in touch!! Diane and David Shipley.
Minmin Chang said:
Hope H.K. and I will have a chance to visit you in Montreal. Better yet, to join one of your cruises! BTW, we lived at 8 Chesterfield from 1976 to 1984. Montreal remains one of our favorite cities; our children grew up there. It is this experience which prompted our son to moved back to Canada 10 years ago from NYC! We now own a condo in Vancouver, spend summer and winter in Van each year.
Helen Megan said:
You will be welcome. I’ll be in Vancouver next year, myself. One of my cruises ends there and I’ll stat a couple of days. I always tee up a nice Chinese dinner. Now I have two more people to invite. You still in HK at all?
Minmin Chang said:
It will be great to see you in Vancouver! We spend Spring and Fall in Hong Kong; Summer and Winter in Van. The two cities are so different like day and night – but truly the best combination for us.
VICTORIA pierscinski said:
Congratulations! Living in Napa, I definitely get the need to be away from fire ( and earthquakes) not to mention traffic.
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Keith Rydings said:
Helen…all that comes to mind from reading your excellent and so interesting blog would be that perhaps you may have missed you true calling…as a journalist…! Sounds like you are very excited and happy with your decision to return to your roots…Montreal. I love my Okanagan Valley, but will admit to some level of envy. Will be in touch soon.
Dorothy Wollitzer said:
So you have moved to Montreal. All the best in your new location. We were just there visiting friends last year and I really loved the city. I just hope you can stand the winters or maybe you can escape them; as the cruise queen! that should be no problem for you. If you are in Vancouver next year let us know. We would love to see you. You could come and visit us on the Island or we could visit you. We are living in Nanoose Bay and it’s a very lovely place with a great golf course nearby. Thanks for that most beautiful picture. Take care of yourself and continue to enjoy! Big hugs, Dorothy and Hans
What a great photo! Keen to hear about your mortgage adventures! A & P
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I am sad that you are moving back to Montreal but delighted you are starting this new phase of your life where you feel most comfortable and happy.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
Kathy Stefano said:
So sad you’re leaving but it is the best thing. Home is always best. You’re presence in this area will be missed!!