Saturday, November 17, 2018

Enter The Garden Here

Garden Gate
      I lost a sign 
"Garden Gate."
I won't 
say someone took the
 joy I made
because it was
for me.
I've shared 
tomatoes, persimmons,
pomegranates,
and avocados.
Given away  
heart and
made pies
from kabocha 
squash and jewel sweet potatoes.
All free 
All free
giving was 
for me       
so enjoy
the metal
picture I
pounded on
tin
its free.




Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Le Fantôme Restaurant Montreal

Le Fantôme Montreal

This is not a restaurant.
This is performance art.
A romantic fantasy eve,
a taste of the past stirs
a perfume of the future.

There is no neon entry sign.
Build sculptures of candles,
burned upon other nights,
stars melt upon an altar.

Prix fix courses appear
as dreams of ancestors
to create magical dishes
Sit back, enjoy Čehrāzād's
stories to taste of heaven.






Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Four White Coats

Four White Coats verses Resistant Leukemia

your doctorate degree doesn't fix it
calling all experts to solve the problem
artificial intelligence transmit
is amber chalk a right pill for autumn?

Four White Coats verses Resistant Leukemia

a year of chemo hasn't cleared his blood
a child grows thin as wheat stalks without rain
a day passes and doctors mix up mud
a clock stops chiming from the pounding pain.

Four White Coats verses Resistant Leukemia

A full moon rises as I kneel to pray
Ticking seconds are time we share today 



Caroline Gerardo 
poem and images copyright October 2018 



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Santa Ana Forest Fire Poem












Ralph Albert Blakelock
Forest Fire

Santa Ana Wind comes
Blowin' offshore dry

Pick up pine needle
Wish for a blower
fingers dry raggle 
trim canopy under
rake every kindle
bury dead prickle

Santa Ana Wind comes
Blowin' offshore dry

poem and image copyright Caroline Gerardo


Monday, September 24, 2018

Tour Ottawa, Quebec and Montreal


Eastern Canada Trip Seven Days, two people touring Ottawa, Quebec City, and Montreal

I went to the AAA office for my final time, to plan, if  travel agent services could assist. A gentleman who I met with before last trip  said, “I’ve never been there.”
He looked for hotels for my planned route from Ottawa through eastern Canada, and the total cost was $3600.00 seven nights. This is not for me and the hotels were chains- the The Fairmont, Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City being the most famous and the W in Montreal. The reason travel agency is a shrinking business,  is in this example:  AAA carries no books, the agent doesn’t seem to travel, and they use the same tool I would (Viator – and the internet), but without asking me about my preferences.
Videos press the play arrow twice sometimes- all are 5 seconds or less.
We travel with different starting and ending cities. My son is in college in and I leave from John Wayne, Santa Ana. Flights are cheaper from Los Angeles (LAX). 
Art installation in Quebec

I called Delta Airlines to book flights that would go together and return half the way. This is not possible online. First research your airline flights, take notes about the cheaper days and times. Keep in mind the time difference as this can cause an uncomfortable early or late departure or arrival. I don’t mind getting up with the sun, but am not happy with driving or finding my way late at night in a strange city. This trip a woman could do on her own safely.
My son arrived at Orange County the night before and he had not prepared any itinerary as I asked, but I have a list of activities for each day for him to choose and our driving time mapped and hotels booked (the cost of hotels total with breakfasts and incidentals was actually $ 1812.00 for seven nights, a few luxury stays and variety of styles.



Daughter drove us to the airport, though she can’t get off work to join us for this trip. We arrive at LAX for our morning flight. We packed rain gear and layers as the weather is often cool at this time of year. Our clothing, cameras, laptop and cords fit into two small carry-on bags. Hurricane Florence has a different plan; the temperatures are hot and very humid. Travelling with less makes your transfers easy. Less to leave behind or fuss about. My best packing tips: bring old underwear or under layers and throw them away as you go, thus making room in the bag.
Delta larger airplanes offer numerous free movies and this makes the flight time seem fast. Bring earplugs or buy a pair for a dollar. We arrive in Ottawa at night, this is a small airport. The walk across the small airport arrival/drop off is a one minute walk from the terminal. I booked Enterprise rental car and planned to use my points. Before leaving I printed Google maps in small formats to understand the routes and names of highways and turn offs. Waze works well in Canada, but Iphone Map is superior if you have apple products... Directions are easy to follow. A couple words to recall are:
Arrêt = Stop
Le sens interdit  = No entry
Passage piétons =  pedestrian crossing
No right turn on the red light in Quebec City and Montreal
Most the street signs are both in English and French. Driving in Canada is good, as long as the weather cooperates. The people are happy to offer directions, but if you don’t speak French you may find their English with French accent difficult to decipher. We had no problems with directions. This road trip is easy.



Our first stop, Hawkesbury. this town is off the highway an hour and a half east of the airport. With the three hours time difference we are not be tired to make our first drive at night.


Quality Inn Hawkeskbury beds

 Hawkesbury is between Highway 50 and Route 148. Once a sawmill town, we saw few logging trucks or remnants of that past. We booked Quality Inn hotel because they stay open all night and I am travelling with my college age son, we needed two beds. The two separate beds is not the easiest thing to book- it rules out bed and breakfasts or small hotels that don’t offer this option, or perhaps one room, but you must call as is not easy to determine. I wanted the closeness of family at night but separate beds was a must.
Hawkesbury is a small town with a variety of brick homes. There is road construction everywhere in Canada. The neighboring town had all the main streets ripped up with detours to repair plumbing water mains. Hotel Quality Inn 1575 Tupper Str Hawkesbury Ontario 613-632-5941 The cost: $107 hotel has a light breakfast - coffee, cereal, yogurt, boiled eggs... and more. costs  are US
After a good night's sleep we were up early. We stop in “Three Rivers” in less than an hour. Trois-Rivières old town is quite charming. I can see the brick buildings becoming gentrified. Take break to walk and stretch your legs. We stumbled upon Chez Lotus Restaurant.  They have Vietnamese and Thai dishes, and a few other Asian mixed recipes on the poster out front. The restaurant is small and run by a husband and wife team. They had a help wanted sign, as does half the places we visited in Canada. Chez Lotus is located at 210 Rue des Forges, Trois-Rivières. My steamy Pho had fresh basil and vegetables with chicken. It was delicious. Son gobbled down General TAO chicken, he loved it. Total cost of our early lunch was  $18.00
Jean- Paul Riopelle art

An interesting stop at Borealis gives you the history of paper making in the region. Also drive by Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church in Trois-Rivières. 

Continue the drive to Quebec City. Via auto route 40 east this is a highway with two lanes. Arrive to see the fortifications of Québec City. The city walls remain from centuries ago. Several are under repair construction. It's great to see Canadians treasure the defense system of North America's only remaining fortified city. Québec City is the only walled city north of Mexico. Citadelle is an active military installation and official residence of both the Canadian monarch and the Governor General of Canada.

A couple driving tips: the dotted line on the right curbside which leans on a diagonal towards the road means the lane ends. This took me three examples to comprehend the visual cue.







Arrive in Quebec City, and stop for pastry treat in the old town: 
La Maison Smith 23 Rue Notre-Dame Quebec City,  Light treats total cost $19 they were friendly and up beat with information. Full yummy breakfast included in room price.

Check in at Le Monastere De Augustines hotel 77, rue des Remparts VIEUX QUEBEC  We were thrilled  with our stay here. Step back in time, feel as if you are a visitor of the past with contemporary comforts. There are artifacts in the rooms and hallways. The windows are the original touched by the sisters every day since 1689. The desk staff and concierge is not postulates as one might believe, but all seem to be devout, caring, and kind . The second floor has rooms which are partly original - with shared baths. The doorways are low with giant oak exposed beams overhead. Paintings of the original Mother Superior and her founding sisters who came by boat to Quebec to serve. They first opened a hospital and in the museum, there are examples of instruments used for surgery and healing of the nineteenth century. The Augustine sisters weren’t cloistered but they have a few nuns who have chosen a silent life of prayer. This reflection upon the world and quiet resonates throughout. 
There are yoga classes, health lectures, spiritual vitality exercises for those who choose to interact but the best idea the nuns had was to require breakfast for the hotel patrons to respect silence. A walk in the garden welcomes shade of the “rectory” where the sisters live. We stayed on the top floor with a spotless white marble and tiled bath, huge deep soaking tub, and heavenly peaceful comforters.
Fransican sisters voting ballot
above 6 second video of the view out from the Monastery  at dawn
Fairmont 


The town, however, bustles with commercialism. The old town cobblestone streets have been preserved for tourists. The hillside is crowded with cafes and high-end t-shirt shops. I can’t say I bought anything. The clothing gears towards fur trimmed winter hats and bulky items for sale that did not fit my small bag plan.


We wandered the streets, the port, and stopped many times for snacks.

Dinner : Toast  17, Sault-au-Matelot, pricey with nice atmosphere.


Next day we head out of the walled city walking to The Musée National des beaux-arts du Québec (Québec City).





On the way we found  the library bookstore in the church La Cite-Limoilou. This was fascinating. The Church was donated to the city and is in transition to be knocked down and made over into condominiums. See photo and video above.

Keep walking and don't loose heart, just like this post the images are at the bottom, pass the cafe's and condos. Arrive at the Museum. Don't miss the permanent show and the Moore installation upstairs and the old prison cells on the first floor. We went up there first and caught the view from the tower.
Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist show was in progress. there are about fifty five paintings and portraits in the show. May I kindle suggest you DO NOT get the laptop with headphones and explanations by the curator first. Go look at the paintings, hopefully it's not so crowded with people carrying those machines who are all looking down bumping into each other.   



















David Altmejd’s wild and crazy work The Flux and the Puddle is in the side gallery. My son adored the Altmejed installation. Dripping, oozing, gooey, half eaten werewolves and ants are taking over his world.
Also there is a show of several Canadian "moderns" including Jean Paul Lemieux  is in the other side of the building. Portraits with wide eyed whimsy, stark landscapes, the silence of farm life in Canada and a primitive revival of controlled paintings are on display. A few paintings of his from the 1940's  have a charming childlike feeling. 




Gastronomie Signee Mc in the museum fabulous cheap great find. Make sure you get a coffee and treat from the tucked away tiny counter top restaurant. Prices are super cheap and the sandwiches and treats fresh.

Morrin Library the largest english language library:


Le Cochon Dingue for lunch, Paris feel of fun- food average. A pig peeks in the window out front. Sometimes you have to go full on touristy.




Rabbit for dinner?

Every day we walked greater than twenty thousand steps (or so my son’s counting device recorded). Hike down the stairs and loop through streets. 

Towards the day’s end we climbed the stairs once more to the Hotel Frontenac. The castle structure of the hotel dominates the view from the old town. It’s the most photographed hotel in the world. My friend Bill insisted that I stay there, I had once been a client many years ago and I'm certain my choice of the Monestary was a better one. Once we hiked the stairs, and mind you, it was hot, we entered through the polished brass merry go round doors. The paneling and granite floors remain unchanged, and fortunately not remodeled into a contemporary hotel. Walk back through the left side of the entrance and enter Sam’s Bar. Do not get a table, the food is below average. A tiny cup of French onion soup is twenty-two dollars. If you are rich, fine go sit on one of the alcoves that overlook the river and pray for a breeze. There is a substantial half round bar which I suggest you order one drink and enjoy the ambiance. The bar architecture glows.
We walked back down towards out hotel and found Paillard on 1097 Rue Saint-Jean, Québec. Everything lit up as a jewelry store respects their diamonds. They have a fabulous green pistachio pastry. We bought four pastries + house coffee $ 13.00. Unbelievable delights. They also have soup and sandwiches. This was suggested by the sister at the Monastery, I assume she goes once a month and splits one; because she was thin. Flaky puff pastry that melts and then crumbles in the same moment when you bite into the layers. This buttery creation is topped with a badge of raspberry jam and misted with cinnamon. I have to give it to you in French from their menu to even wrap your mind and mouth around savory, sweet, snap of memory good times…
Croc-framboises "to die for," as my sister Nori likes to say with drama.
Pâte à croissant, confiture de framboises, cannelle, sucre à confiserie, dorure
Chausson de pâte feuilletée garni de confiture de framboises, rehaussé d’un soupçon de cannelle.
We also split a Poirier for $2.95 Canadian which is a big square of puff pastry holding or damming in a half of pear swimming in dark chocolate. On top are little boats sailing made of almonds and toasted spices. AND an Almandine, yes a croissant like treat, think Paris, it’s not sugary or crystalline as in those in New York, this is butter so light and sugar ground to water light mist, then almond paste that doesn’t taste like cherries- it tastes like fire roasted toasty marshmallow almonds. Crunch and sweet and pinch of sea salt oh my. And I start another sentence with and because if you can think of a conjunction as joining. And brioche simple and great.

Restaurant Le Feu Sacré    68 ½  rue Saint LouisQuébec (QC)  G1R 3Z3



 $82 steak house Quebec.

Good night's sleep, we walked eleven miles, up early the next morning. Breakfast in the dining area - berries, coconut yogurt and granola for me and crepe rolled, egg quiche cups, home baked breads for son. We drive towards Montreal on the King's Road Chemin du Roi and Saint Lawrence River the 138 South

Stop at Restaurant Chez Moi excellent food and charm of small town in Deschambault. Don't order poutine, its a hot dog with a prettier meat.  Total $46 for a fabulous lunch with - local cuisine. I had poached salmon fish with noodles two course meal that was perfect. Son enjoyed thin sliced french fries and am Angus beef burger. 241 Chemin De Roi on the right side a two story house with wrap around porch facing the road.

While you walk out of the restaurant cross the street to Boulangerie Soleil Lev Deschambault pick up some treats for the road. $4 excellent pastries and the chef is baking right in front of you.
watering the beds in front of Boulangerie







Churches -  two beautiful structures to visit if you please: St Joseph's in perfect condition and Saint Louise both unique and full of history. 
Windmill on the river built 1674 with beautiful surrounds. The fall leaves are almost ready to change. Peeks of yellow ash trees and vermilion paperback maples.
  
Stop in Atwater Market in the morning in Montreal. Atwater Market displays permanent booths of exotic sausages, fruit, average produce in late summer. This is much like the Los Angeles Farmer's Market on Fairfax, it's not direct farmers with card tables and produce picked yesterday. It is wholesalers, restaurants, and seafood, butcher and boulanger merchants. Go with an appetite.
Meat "ager" /dryer at Atwater



Biosphere designed and built by Buckminster Fuller for the 1967 World Fair Exposition. In 1976 the acrylic dome that covered the steel frame was burned in a fire. There supposedly is a museum inside but everything appears closed. Not very interesting, just construction fences.  Lots of free parking, a little fountain perhaps an opportunity for a selfie. Below I have some images and a short video, this may be enough.
We tried to get pictures of "La Ronde" nearby. The Ferris wheel, roller coaster and small amusement park was also closed preparing for a haunted house.

In the afternoon to check in at Delta hotel 3 nights 475 President Kennedy Ave.  Room is very large and we have a view balcony no breakfast included price: $120 night which is cheap for the location- central to everything but not in the hip old town cobblestone blocks which have no parking and drunk tourists looking for a bar (met young women tourists walking who found few places to have fun late at night). 

Breakfast at Tommy in old town, grab a coffee and pastry in a charming space. The music is loud, the bar tables are high enough to look down upon the eight small wooden tables. This is a place for a cappuccino, and to be seen, so I hope you are wearing an off the shoulder crinoline dress, I, of course, was not. I was expecting fall weather, oops.
Walk to see the exhibits on show at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. Walk around the Opera House to find the front entrance which was blocked by construction.
Construction in progress everywhere

Marched to see “Manifesto” by Julian Rosefeldt  at the Art Museum at the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal; but it was sadly closed until October 3rd. The photography show I read about online of Kate Blanchett was not available. Some fair or concert occurred the prior night, leaving the entrance a bustle of trucks, dollys and amplifiers for some radio show moving in subsequently. The Museum Café, also closed, wish they had posted online the whole center was down for the count. Only a small gift shop downstairs underground was open, not very interesting basement.
We opted not to go to Toque which is nearby the Musée d’art Contemporain, which was on my list because my son frowned. 
An afternoon coffee to keep us marching, we try a cappuccino, miso baked oysters and Yakitori from Flyjin. We are still off on our time zone, son was hungry and I wanted caffeine. The murals by Stikki Peaches and Kevin Ledo are great and lend a daytime atmosphere of joyful rather than night-club. This is more of a bar than a place to lunch with your son; but they were so kind and welcoming I felt young.  This is good. Thank you Chef Antonio Park.
Rooftop drink for son at Hôtel Nelligan to watch the sunset.

Went for breakfast the next morning at Olive et Gourmando. Incredibly crowded with women in pastel cotton frocks. Posted online as some mecca for tourists to experience. Charming décor; but the wait was 45 minutes, and pricey, so, non. 
Opted for Restaurant Vallier Bistro food good. Atmosphere more conventional and cold, well maybe we should have waited?  $37 son had huevos rancheros with runny guacamole. I had a nice cheesy sprout sandwich.




We rent bikes from and cruise Ça Roule Montréal on Wheels. The Bixi kiosks are good for only a 30 minute ride, then drop at the next station (usually near Metro or bus). Ride up to Mont Royal, with a neighborhood park upon a hill. This is where the wealthier residents live. There is a park to bring a picnic or people watch.
Taka Taka Souvlaki Greek Mount Royal was inexpensive but average.
Missed the Sunday concert in park, couldn't fit in everything.
Mile's End long walk – the street I think is now always closed off for walking traffic? Retail stores set up in the road as the weather is warm. Its a fair like atmosphere with music, booths, and food.  
This is fun. Variety of food- vegan, cheap, street vendors, barbecue, all types of ethnic treats, it's here. By now son is in a groove taking photographs of murals. He took two hundred mural pictures, if he puts on the internet, I'll let you know.
In search of the Montreal bagel we found: Fairmount BAGEL 74 Fairmount West Montreal, QC H2T 2M2
Amazing yummy baked in an old fashioned oven see photograph below. We bought six thinking we would save half but ended up eating them all. They are smaller size like bagels once were in the U. S. but it's the water (that's what the Parisians say about their baguettes) no it's a secret. The bagels don't need a smear or cream cheese. The counter sells three types of spreads if you think you need it.. cash only, there's an ATM inside the bodega on the corner.

Next door is La Dhorgeria, cooking a pot of sauce and gnocchi.  It smelled good BUT my Nonna would suspect the gnocchi are not homemade, they too perfect shapes to be made by hand.
Walked into Schwartz's, the bookstore Drawn and Quarterly and Tess Leim's book launch that evening. Art and literature are popping on Mile's End.
We hunted for EVA B’s as son wanted to find a cool shirt to remember our trip. The store is wild and funky but only five percent of the clothing is for men, sigh.
Eva B's stuffed animal walls



He did however find a tie-dyed shirt from a street vendor for ten dollars, and he was pleased with his find.

After walking 20000 steps, I'm still on go go go; but son says we need a break. We return to the hotel for a shower as the humidity is uncomfortable. I wanted to go to a certain for dinner but they did not have reservations... I asked the concierge and he suggested: Pyrenees Restaurant - Le Pyrenees Montreal crummy $80 paella awful yucky dry no saffron, the first mussel I ate was rotten. I didn't eat another bite. The waiter never checked on us or asked what was wrong. After seeing open air vendors cooking paella on Mile's End, and I make this easy Spanish dish, I was disappointed. But nothing gets me down on vacation. 

Next we wandered out in the old cobblestone street in search of dessert and land in the center in front of Notre-Dame. Light shows of murals project on the surrounding buildings, musicians play classical tunes, the air is full of history. The lights on the church are lovely. Scroll down for the photo of the blue lights on the church. See the Basilique Notre-Dame at night, the square has “murals” being projected on neighboring walls, live music buskers,  the line is long if time is crunched don’t wait to pay for the tour. 


Next day explore the Quays of the Old Port. We walked the port as if it was ours alone. Few boats sprinkled upon the docks. These colorful Adirondack chairs beckoned to a shop that rents kayaks.
Dinner reservations at Canada’s finest restaurant LE FANTOME 1832 William st 514-846-1832  An amazing event type dinner. In a neighborhood of industrial buildings this has an unassuming front door. Enter to discover a mountain of candles melting upon other dinners of the past. Prix fix dinner, several courses, wine priced separately Very expensive but if you are a fan of fine dining Chef hits all the musical notes. Begin with pork or white fish,  Cheese course of curls Desert cherry delight, combining cherry flavor of candies, peppers, fresh cherry puree without the sorbet being pink   . $129 total wow.

Next day drive to peek at the ceiling frescos at Little Italy church Chisea Modena Difesa skip the line for Norte Dame Church of the Madonna della Difesa Chiesa della Madonna della Difesa, : Église de Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense) is a Catholic Church build by Italian immigrants from Molise. Can you find Mussolini in the frescoes? Do not forget to read signs about parking. 
Drove to Habitat 67 condos. Don't park in front of the security gate a guy in a golf cart comes and yells at you because so many tourists must block the residences. There is lots of free parking underneath the bridge overpass. Park and walk past the signs that say you can't use the park. You will see young people with surf boards. Follow them on the river side to watch the surfing beach.





Back into the car to to the Biodome park and take a picture, Biodome closed. But the Botanic Gardens are a big WOW. 

Next morning we are headed to Meech Lake near Gattineau. Maybe you would like to see the Mackenzie King Estate, not me, we hiked to see the Carbide Willson Ruins. This scientific genius built a dam, power plant, and concrete home in the middle of no-where in 1892. The hike is about 30 minutes and gorgeous. There are a couple trails that lead you around the water - one is maintained others are marshy. The fall leaves reflect in the water, it's clear to swim. Park in P 11 and follow the signs. We drove to find the covered bridge over the creek but ran out of daylight.


Ottawa downtown caters to college students and tourists. We ate at Three brothers Shawarma Ottawa total $20. I had an excellent salad.
Stop in Dollarama for keychains, lighters, and umbrella $10 worth of 11 gifts. In an airport store they are $15 a piece, we couldn't find a shot glass for son's driver from airport so I paid full price to deliver the goods.

Days Inn Ottawa airport 366 Hunt Club Road is 5 minutes from the Terminal
Room is clean, beds comfortable
Including excellent breakfast fresh berries, cereal, eggs, juice, waffles at 4:30 AM $121
Total cost of 7 nights two people $ 3400. all travel including food, parking, a ticket, and museum fees. 






Atwater market
Atwater Market




Mile's End BBQ in the street




Schwartz's Deli


murals








Montreal murals are beautiful






Fairmount Bagels






Gnocci mile's end


Bagels at Fairmount












Surfer beach Habitat 




Habitat condos




Montreal surfing behind Habitat 67












Five Roses Neon 














Tommy Cafe


Botanic Gardens








Bee and Insect Houses at the Botanic Gardens






Botanic Gardens View








Japanese Garden at Montreal Botanic Garden