101 Reasons I Luv Montreal

Autumn in Montreal. The sound was music to my soul. I knew that hook or crook, I would move heaven and earth to return in September.

And I did. This trip would be different from the last visit. The cool temps and sweater weather made me start packing a week early.

The fact that Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the East coast was not lost on me. I watched the weather reports anxiously checking and rechecking the weather in Montreal that week.

Finally, departure day and Florence had moved on…barely touching the Virginia coast. My thoughts are already in Montreal as I head to Amtrak for the first leg of my journey.

The best part turns out to be the Acela fast speed train that I have not ridden before.  It is a beautifully shaped train, sleek and modern, arriving from DC to the big Apple in record time.

Montreal is a cool 65 degrees when I disembark. I immediately notice the Rock n Roll Marathon signs as I approach the hotel. Although I had a list of things to do leading up to my born day, I added this event to the top of the list pleased that I had arrived at the start of this fun filled Marathon weekend.

My hotel as it turned out, was located a few blocks from the Marathon site. And I was able to enjoy the free concerts, free health screening, free massages, free healthy treats….that came along with the Marathon.

The trip will forever be known as the “Walking Week”. I was somewhat familiar with the area as it also was the site for the jazz festival. What I didn’t know was I was very close to Chinatown, Old Montreal and The Port.

Even though at times I felt I was walking in a big circle, the pleasant weather, inviting shops, exquisite food smells plus the music from the Rock n roll bands made my days in Montreal enjoyable.

A pic is worth a thousand words…check them out!20180919_11262220180921_14022820180921_16440320180921_18590320180922_13093320180922_15481920180922_22494520180922_22073720180922_22384220180923_09283920180923_10001220180923_10093820180923_10151620180924_15223620180924_134042

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Daze ( Pt. 2)

If you think the traumatic incident that occurred at the middle school was the end of my teaching career…  Think again.

Teaching was a chosen profession for me. After I made the decision not to attend law school but rather pursue an undergraduate and graduate degree in my first love, English, I was not content to give up on this career that I loved so dearly.

Yes, I could always return to the paralegal arena which had finally become an accepted and even lucrative profession in the South. I even did a brief stint working for the government as a legal analyst, but it was not teaching.

I had traded students for case files, and despite the significant pay increase, I was not satisfied with my 9 to 5-is-it-lunchtime-yet cube existence.

I reasoned that if I  could not teach at a public school, I could seek teaching jobs at community colleges and universities.  My first college teaching position was at a major Virginia university.  Members of the faculty saw me conduct a workshop at a middle school conference and invited me to interview for a faculty position .

I was hired after the interview, mere months after leaving my middle school position. Following that position, I was able to parlay my experience into jobs at several community colleges and an HBCU in Virginia.

Life as a contract professor or adjunct was interesting and challenging especially teaching freshman or adult learners. However, the pay and lack of benefits did not lend itself to the needs of a single parent.

I began considering reentry into public school. But this time up North. The sting left by the uncaring administrators at the middle school was still fresh

By this time, I  had published 2 history books for young people , several journal articles, received several national fellowships, and taught in higher education so I easily secured an 8th grade English position.

The school was in a bedroom community of Washington, DC with a large Hispanic population. I enjoyed the school’s diversity and the nearness of the nation’s capital.  Unfortunately,  an unexpected illness caused me to end my tenure there, but once I recovered, I  found another position in the largest and most influential county in Northern Virginia .

After several years in this county,  I  relocated to a sleepy litle town  in the Northern neck of Virginia  where I  landed a position at both the local high school and community college.

This was my last stop on the teacher train and probably most memorable because of the faculty and students who welcomed me (an urban  Black teacher) into their community and their hearts.

Officially retired now, and pursuing writing fulltime, I  still dip my toes in the teaching pond…subbing at local school districts (my experience working at the local Gifted School will always be a fond memory of both talented students and dedicated educators) and conducting teacher training workshops.

When September rolls around, I still feel that excitement and air of expectancy heralding the start of a new school year

No longer do I  feel anxious upon entering a school; instead I feel at home…looking forward to the interaction with colleagues…and facing a roomful of new, fresh faced, inquisitive students  and the promise that Learning brings.

EACH ONE, TEACH ONE.

photo of sticky notes and colored pens scrambled on table
Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Words Fail: Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

The pop up calendar reminds me

Going South this week.

A mocking reminder

of what was

Supposed to Be.

Suitcases packed

Mail put on hold

Neighbors alerted to have

a watchful eye.

Friends bid adieu around

a final flavorful meal.

And then

The Words.

Words fail.

Words hurt.

Words remind.

Words start wars.

Words Destroy.

But …..  Libra004

Words give hope.

Words uplift.

Words empower.

Words transform.

And a Single Word

From on High

Can

Move Mountains.

Words fail me

The expression goes.

Speechless. Muted. Silenced.

Nothing left to say.

The curtain closes.

The sun completes its descent.

Words fail.

But

My Heart Smiles.

 

 

100 Things I Love About Montreal: Underground

Reader, As the saying goes, I’ve saved the Best for last. My visit to Underground Montreal took place on my last full day in the Beautiful city.

stairs dark station underground
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I had read the promo pamphlets during my first days in the Beautiful city, but avoided going into any of the numerous doors throughout downtown Montreal marked Underground.

I wanted to devote an entire day to this experience. Having visited the likes of U.S underground cities in ATL, Albany, NY and Crystal City, VA the prospect of seeing the world’s largest known subterranean complex was something I wanted to savor.

Montreal’s Underground was built to accommodate residents and visitors during the harsh winter months with its significant snowfalls and cold temperatures.

Multiple shopping strips and office blocks are connected by walkways and rail. Numerous entry points can be found at ground level and via Metro stations.

The temperature on my last full day in Beautiful city was nearing the Hades point. For some reason, mother nature (or the global warming gods) had  decided to backdrop the second week of the Jazz festival with a once in 60 years heat wave.

By noon, the temperature was an earth scorching 95 degrees. I put on my coolest travel garments and headed for the Underground.

When I descended the curved staircase near the Marriott on Rue Peele, I literally heard birds singing and harps playing. Actually, it was the thrilling sounds of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from a pair of Street musicians that greeted me as I descended the clean, shiny,  polished stairs.

I was speechless. In front of me stretched miles of shops, businesses, Eateries, did I say Eateries, all within a well lit, air conditioned, cheery, clean, dang near sparkling version of Oz.

Words failed to capture the feeling I had as I glided down the corridors of Undergound Montreal.

So Reader, I will put away my Thesaurus and let your eyes feast on a few of  the wonderful sights of Underground Montreal…Voila…

Are you booking your airfare? Amtrak? Greyhound? yet…See you there in September!

Love and Light.   Comments always welcomed and don’t forget to Share!

 

Impromptu International Dinner

To celebrate the return of a dear friend and my Foodie buddy Flyboy, who just returned from the Motherland after a long 3 years, I held an Impromptu dinner with a few friends….some Vegetarian some not. Flyboy is a world traveler by virtue of his ..thank you for your Service…and his love of ethnic food rivals mine.

Many of you know of my tendency to batch cook..usually once or twice a month, on a day when not much is going on. And that is how the rainy- is -it time-to- build-an-ark-day started.

My fridge looked like a frozen tundra, and I had just returned from yet another sojourn to ye olde market.

I immediately set to work, pulling out all the contents of the Cold One, meats and fish in the left sink, vegetables in the right careful not to disturb the Breyers, smoothie fruit, or leftover lemon pound cake.

To my delight, the fridge yielded the ingredients for what became an international veggie/ meat eater dinner.

After sending a few texts…I’m cooking. You’re invited. It’s this evening. No, that’s not last minute, that’s impromptu..I donned my Betty crocker apron, fired up my kindle ( to pull up recipes), grabbed a few trusty cookbooks and my own collection of favorite recipes, poured a glass of rose, turned the stereo up loud and entered the world of forget your troubles and let’s get happy.

Two hours later. ..Voila! The aroma of Indian lentil curry, fresh spring vegetables in Masala sauce, garlicky peppery African chicken n collards, cauliflower/brocolli /parmesan bake, roasted curry spiced zucchini and squash, spinach and garlic stir fry, Pad thai (shrimp and veggie), and slow roasted lamb chops permeated the air.

After everything was baking, simmering and roasting, I prepared a few starters: beet and cheese tortellini on a pick, Havarti and cherries, spicy chili lime pecans toasted, and my newest grocery find..creamy dill lentil chips ( a minute in a hot oven brings out all that creamy dill goodness plus a pleasing crunch).

For dessert,  I gathered all the fresh fruit in the crisper, washed it with the Fit organic fruit and veggie wash ( Thank you nice stranger in the Kroger veggie aisle (yes, Virginia I talk to Strangers) who gave me 2 tips: cucumbers dipped in natural peanut butter for midday boost and Fit spray…and plated it with what has to be the best yogurt in the dairy, Siggi’s Icelandic cream style black cherry (drop of honey added).

Throughout this entire time, Lil man was staring at me intently, quizzically as only woman’s best friend can, from the hallway adjoining the kitchen. Like his predecessor Lucky, he was hoping against hope that his meager bowl would house the contents of some of this sumptuous feast. Later, after the guests had left and I was busy cleaning up the Mess, a few pieces of perfectly roasted lamb found their way to his aluminum dish.

Yes! He growled, It was worth being secluded in the bedroom while The Humans stuffed their faces!

A picture is worth many words. Here’s what you missed, Reader…

PS the beer, wine and Grey Goose compliments of the guests.

Lil Man is Home!

 

20180722_164003Readers, some of you may remember my post last year..I Got a Man. It detailed how I went to Sears in search of a replacement Nutrabullet blender and made a wrong turn in the Mall ending up at ye olde pet store.

Yes, I know some of you are shaking your head muttering dang puppy mills purveyors. But I was innocently looking at the proverbial ‘puppy in the window’ when the smiling sales Sistah invited me in to hold one of the little fur puffs.

(I will repost The Original  blog so those of you who missed it can view it again).

The good news is despite attempts by human traffickers,  Pirates moored off the Chesapeake Bay and a daunting and scary medical emergency  ( mine not the dog), Lil Man has returned to his rightful owner.  Six months older and still anxiety ridden. ( He was taken from his mother too soon because he needed hernia repair, and did not get the required mother/son bonding).

But Reader, owner and dog are deliriously happy to be together again. Proving once again that persistence, hard work and Faith do pay off!

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