Montreal

Happy Labour Union Movement Day

Hello friends,

Happy Labour Day long weekend!!! I hope you all have a excellent time celebrating the achievements of workers and the origins of the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement. Yay labour!  

Out at dinner for our 1 year anniversary!

Out at dinner for our 1 year anniversary!

To celebrate our labour day we decided to have a laborious-less Saturday and play tourist in the ol' MTL. I find that after living in a place for more than 6 months your list of local things to do slowly gets longer and longer to the point where you never actually do any of the really touristy activities in the city. For instance, there is an incredible cathedral in old town Montreal called Basilique Notre-Dame which houses the younger, less energetic brother of Quasimodo and we had never been. Or the famous Schwartz's Deli, a delicatessen restaurant established in 1928 by Reuben Schwartz, famous as the oldest remaining Montreal-style smoked meat restaurant. The restaurant also sells smoked meat by mail order. It is kosher-style rather than kosher. Sorry. But we had never been! (spoiler alert: we still haven't been to Schwartz's. We arrived for lunch for find a line up wrapping around the block. Neither of us cared that much for smoked meat sandwiches so we got Portuguese chicken. #worthit)

We got up Saturday morning, excited for the day ahead of us and to get ourselves energized we cleaned the house! Nothing says labour day like scrubbing a toilet. We were really trying to get back to the grass roots of the holiday. By that, I mean that Heather cleaned the house. In fairness, I've cleaned the house for the past two weeks because she was working on Saturdays so she cleaned the house so I could prepare a class I'm gonna be teaching this Wednesday at my buddy's business Totem Academy where I got to teach about making videos on a budget. Taking it back to my grass roots where I used pot lamps from Home Depot strapped to mic stands. 

Once the house was in order we hopped on our bikes and headed out to find food in the trendy part of town but, like I said, upon arriving we found a line around a block and a tour guide telling a joke about Schwartz's for the 300th time so we instead went to this little Portuguese restaurant called Rotisserie Romados known for their Piri Piri chicken poutine and natas. We've talked about natas before in one of our previous blog posts but if you're unfamiliar with these tasty treats they are Portuguese egg tarts which originated from convents and monasteries in the 18th century. They would use egg whites for starching their laundry, and use the left-over yolks to make pastries and cakes, which resulted in pastel de nata becoming more and more popular throughout the country, since the monks would sell them to the public. Growing up, I would eat Chinese egg tarts but I've got to admit, the Portuguese do it better.

We've had Romados' chicken poutine before which is incredible so we changed it up and had the Churiço poutine with a chicken sandwich, salad and natas for dessert and went to a park to enjoy our splendor and were approached by an adorable little cat who came to keep us company while we ate. Heather grabbed a piece of chicken to give it to it as a treat but the cat misinterpreted the gesture and rubbed its head into the chicken. It quickly realized its mistake and chowed down and then hung around and let us pet it before disappearing in between bites of poutine. 

After that we bought a basket for Heather's bike, which she's been wanting since she got a bike, and headed down to Old Montreal to the Basilique. It is such a stunning piece of architecture! You we always forget how breathtaking 18th century churches are to behold. Even more impressive is the fact that it was completed in only 35 months, working from April to October between 1824 and 1829. At the time of its inauguration, Notre-Dame Church was the largest house of worship of any religious denomination in North America. The carvings at the head of the cathedral and around the walls were stunning as well. One thing we loved was the abundance of female representation in their statues. So much of their influencing figures in the churches history were nuns. Another cool thing we learned, the three statues on the façade of the Basilica represent Montreal (the Virgin Mary), Quebec (Saint John the Baptist) and Canada (Saint Joseph).

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Fun fact, The great “Jean-Baptiste” bell in the bell tower of the basilique weighs 24,000 pounds (11 tons). Learned something new today.

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We went down to Costco afterwards to pick up some steaks and a 2kg strawberry rhubarb pie and headed to our friends the Hutchinson for some good ol' BBQing to close off the night. We can always count on them for good food. We had steaks with corn, egg plant, kale salad and pie and ice cream and, a little blast from the past, some Cool Whip! It was a good Saturday. 

Anyways, enjoy your Labour Day weekend! We're planning on riding roller coasters to continue our labour celebration ;) Till next time,
- Steven

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Chapter 31: Wonder Woman and Ramadan

Hello all! So these last couple weeks have been very full and exciting weeks. Mostly because of the landmark events that took place. First, we saw Wonder Woman!!! It was incredible to see a movie where not only was the main superhero a woman who kicked butt just as hard as any male hero but she was surrounded by other awesome female characters. It was also so cool to see a movie Heather worked on on the big screen. In film there's a test that is used as an indicator for the active presence of women in films and other fiction, and to call attention to gender inequality in fiction. It's called the Bechdal test and consists of four questions:

  1. Does the film feature at least two women or girls?
  2. Do they talk to each other?
  3. Do they talk about something other than a man or boy?
  4. Are they named?

Wonder Woman passed the test with flying colours. Literally, the first 45 minutes was just powerful female characters. The movie starts with a shot of Diana (Wonder Woman) as a child sneaking into a training ground of Amazons training for battle. Often times in film when there is a woman fighting she is choreographed to look delicate and pretty in her fighting and this was not the case for any of the Amazon choreography. At one point I got a little teary eyed. She was also sensitive and strong emotionally, morally and compassionate too. Walking out of the theatre we all felt that this was a ground breaking movie that stands as a landmark for future movies with female heroes. Heather read an article on the effect this movie is having on young girls shared by a elementary school teacher. In it she talked about how all the girls in her class said they wanted to be Wonder Woman and when they couldn't decide which one of them was gonna be her they decided to all just be amazons to save the world with truth and love! It's hasn't been two weeks since the movie came out and it's already having this effect on young girls. We definitely would recommend seeing it if you haven't already.

Last Wednesday the youth in our ward had a talent show for their mutual activity and Heather and Amber decided to participate. For those of you who don't know, Heather grew up doing Highland and Irish dancing and so did Amber. They decided that they wanted to dust off their hard shoes and pull together something for the talent show. They decided this on Monday and by Wednesday they had a choreographed dance and they did an amazing job! Irish dancing being a percussive dance just sounds incredible, especially when performed with hard shoes and it was so cool seeing how good the two of them were even after years of not dancing. The rest of the talent show was fun - there were magic tricks, dances, songs performed and I pulled out my Golum monologue for good measure.

Last weekend we hosted a interfaith break the fast/Iftar dinner at our chapel with a local Muslim congregation. We were one of four groups of LDS and Muslim congregations that got together to share this experience along with our different perspectives of fasting and its benefits from either faith. For those of you who are unaware, those of the Muslim faith are currently observing Ramadan during which they fast every day for a month from sun up till sun down. The meal that they have to break their fast at the end of the day is called the Iftar. A member of our public affairs committee was organizing the Iftar with Sarif, the representative of the Muslim congregation, but couldn't pull it together last minute due to conflicting plans so she asked if we we could take it on and Heather and I were happy to oblige. From what I understand this is the second annual break the fast dinners in our area so we're very excited to have been a part of it.

The dinner was held at our chapel and we began the evening by giving our new friends a tour of the building. We talked about the sacrament and about Christ and the different classes and activities that take place in the building. Then we gathered in the gym and sat intermingled at the different tables and we began the Iftar. It started with a prayer which was presented in the form of a song and it was beautiful. We had a speaker from both parties talk about the reasons and beliefs behind fasting and it was very surprising to discover that we fast for pretty much the same reason. There is a strong focus on the spiritual and putting off the natural habits and desires and an emphasis on clothing and feeding the poor and less fortunate and they spend more time at the mosque than at any other time of the year.

The dinner was delicious. Nearly all of it was brought by their congregation. While we ate we shared personal stories and got to know each other better. We learned that a large majority of the congregation is from Turkey and a lot of them are teachers because of how much of a focus their culture places on education and learning. I got to bring my camera and document the event. We also brought our photobooth set up so everyone could take photos with their new friends. At the close of the night we gave them hydrangeas as parting favours. The hydrangea, as Heather has discovered, symbolizes openness and we thought what better gift to represent the evening. It was a wonderful experience and we all left with a resolve to have events like this more frequently so we don't have to wait till next year's Ramadan.

Until next week. - Steven

 

Chapter 28: Sushi and Scruples

We made California Rolls Wednesday, which was super fun! I got home as just as Steven finished getting together all the ingredients, so I put together the rolls! Not a skill I had until I dated Steven. Actually, I just remembered how I learned to make sushi! Steven and I were friends, starting to maybe date? It was a confusing time. One day we stopped by his parents house to grab something and it was right at dinner time. His mom, dad and sister were all making themselves sushi and invited us to join. I really hadn't eaten sushi many times at this point, and wasn't sure if I liked it or not, so I was pretty uncomfortable. Steven just dove in though! I stood there awkwardly while everyone was busily making their own rolls. I had NO IDEA how to do it, and Steven must have been so hungry he didn't notice how confused I was. Finally Stevens mom explained what to do, and I set about slowly making a roll. It was pretty terribly constructed, and took me so long I got much less food than the others haha. It was so funny to remember that memory and how awkward and out of place I felt. It feels like a lifetime ago, and like Steven and I are completely different people than we were then! He is so loving and conscious of me. I'm much more blunt and straightforward with him, I just couldn't see that same situation arising these days.  

We had some friends over for a games night Friday night which was really nice. We made a few pizzas, and they brought icecream :) We played our favorite strange party game "scruples" The version we own is from 1986, and it definetly shows its age. Not in looks (its in pristine condition) but in content. The game is great for getting to know people better. You have an answer card in your hand and 5 question cards. You choose the question card to ask anyone playing, but you need them to give the answer that matches what is on the answer card in your hand (yes/no/depends). The questions are things like "if your son became a stripper, would you continue to let him live at home?" "the old lady selling you her house is asking for less than her house is worth, do you tell her?" or "you leave water running while staying at a friends house and flood the bathroom. Do you offer to help pay for repairs?"

It was funny to see what different people were comfortable with and what others weren't! The game doesn't sound nearly as fun as it is when you describe it, but trust me its awesome. I did hooooribly at it, but still had a lot of fun.

I had my first full Saturday off in like a month!

It was my favourite day of the week, because Steven and I got to spend all day together. We didn't do anything very interesting honestly, like we ran errands, went to the doctors office, stuff like that. But It was so nice to spend all day together.

Saturday evening was stake conference. They spoke mostly about how to make the Sabbath day a delight. My Sabbath is far from delightful these days, so That's what we will need to work on over the next weeks. We are toying with the idea of doing these posts Monday night rather than Sunday since we always end up staying up so late Sundays. We will see if this helps over the next few weeks or if we end up just forgetting to post haha. its a pretty real possibility!

Love,

Heather