This one’s for Average Mom.
This one’s for Average Mom.
On more than one occasion, I’ve heard comments from people saying that they’re not worried about losing their mother tongue because they learned it as a kid and still use it. And that’s the key to keeping their language: they still use it.
I grew up in a French-Canadian household, and unless we had English-speaking guests, we always spoke French at home. Plus, I went to French school most of my life. Still, having grown up in Ontario, I became fluent in English at a very young age. Eventually, I married a Québécois and we moved to Toronto where I worked in a customer call centre for a mutual fund company answering incoming calls on their French line. So, as an adult, I continued to hone my French-speaking skills. In fact, it wasn’t unusual for callers from Québec to ask which part of their province I was from.
Fast forward to my move to Whitehorse where, despite the ease with which a person can live in French thanks to the surprisingly large francophone community, I mostly worked and lived in English. I also went back to school where everything was in English, and I am happily re-married to a WASP. So until recently, I only used my French on occasion. With what result?
It got to the point where, when speaking French, it seemed like I had to search for my words. I felt like I was forgetting expressions that I had always used. And the part that bothered me the most? I was developing an English accent when speaking French. This drove me insane! But more importantly, it drove home the fact that yes, it is very possible to lose your language.
Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to use and improve my French with my current job, and I am more aware of the danger of losing my language. I have never been political about such things as most franco-Ontarians aren’t, but I have a better awareness of how fast I can lose what I have if I don’t take care of it.
To use an old saying: Use it, or lose it.
Therefore, although I didn’t use my French much when I first moved to Whitehorse, I am grateful that I have many opportunities to do so. Because of the push for French language within and outside of Québec’s border, I can order French books, I can work in a French environment, and I can request French services. I don’t usually push this last one, but I do use them when they’re there. For example, when doing my First Aid – CPR courses or when I wrote my GED at Yukon College, I did them in French. For practicums in my studies to become a teacher, twice I applied to work in a French environment and was accepted both times. I figure if I don’t use these services, someday they may not be available to use because of lack of demand. But the most important reason to use your language? Ask any First Nations person in the Yukon, and they’ll tell you that yes, loss of language is very real.
Over the last little while, I’ve started posting reviews to Yukono.com which is a site where Yukoners can post reviews of local businesses and services. Registering an account is quick and the site is easy to use. Even when suggesting a review for a business not yet on the site, turn-around time is well within 24 hours.
I especially appreciated the humour and humility displayed when something didn’t quite go as planned:
5 stars out of 5 from me!
At first glance, The Towne Club (next to Lizard’s Lounge after the new “wall” went up) looks like a chic, inviting little cocktail lounge. If fact, prior to it’s opening after the renovations, I recall reading in one of the ads that it was going to be a “high-end cocktail lounge”. Of course, such a statement raised many eyebrows in this little Gold Rush town.
As soon as it opened, some friends and I decided to check in on this new little spot, complete with comfy chairs and other furniture from The Country House (unfortunately, this furniture store is closing soon). It did, indeed, look very inviting. There are many choices for seating: bar stools at the bar, regular dining tables, high tables and high chairs, comfortable nooks with sofas, sofa chairs, and coffee tables. Very pleasant atmosphere, comfortable, and soft background music. And even though there’s a giant TV screen in one corner, it doesn’t feel invasive.
Being a wine drinker, I anticipated a wine list with a decent selection of wines at various prices. What I got from this high-end lounge was a choice of two very low-end wines: Jackson Triggs (hang on while I run to the bathroom to throw up) and Sawmill Creek (so-so for a house wine). After spotting the owner sitting at the bar, I thought I’d approach him to compliment him on the new place and make a suggestion about the wine list. This was the last time I went there, which was many months ago.
Yesterday, my mom had a hankering for Chinese food. Note to those outside Canada: Unless you’re in certain restaurants in Chinatown (Toronto/Vancouver), Chinese food in Canada isn’t what Chinese people would call Chinese food; it’s the chop suey, chow mein, sweet & sour whatever, and other Westernized dishes. Anyway, like many other Asian foods, there are always sesame seeds or sesame oil in something, which will send my husband into anaphylactic shock. So our challenge was to find a place that serves Chinese food along with other non-Asian choices on the menu. Remembering the menu at our fancy-pants establishment, we decided to go there. Oh yeah, I guess I forgot to tell you that high-end cocktail lounges in Whitehorse have Chinese food on their menu.
We sat at a regular table and the waitress quickly came over to ask for our drinks. I was pleased to see that the wine list had been expanded to a few more wines. We all had menus in front of us, ordered our drinks, and then the waitress asked if we wanted to start a tab.
“We’re ordering food, so yes.”
“Then I’ll have to ask one of you for a credit card,” she smiled.
Huh? Wait…did I hear this right? What, otherwise we’d have to pay for the meal before eating?
“But we’re having dinner! Giving a credit card for a tab is common in bars, not when people are having dinner,” I answered incredulously.
“That’s just regular procedure,” she tried to reassure us.
So, after giving her the “I can’t believe I’m hearing this” look, I handed her my credit card.
Eventually she brought us our drinks and we ordered our food. My wine tasted like it had gone bad, so she graciously brought me a different one and didn’t charge me for the first. For Westernized Chinese food, it wasn’t bad and the portions were huge (we had enough for lunch the next day). My husband ordered fish and chips (again, can’t have sandwiches or burgers and risk sesame). His plate looked like it came from a greasy-spoon diner with a scattering of what looked like McCain’s frozen crinkle cut fries and two small pieces of fish.
And the worse part? I LOVE rock ‘n roll, especially classic rock…but not while I’m having dinner! Pink Floyd, Rush, and AC/DC while having a meal at a high-end cocktail lounge?
In the end, the food was okay, and it’s what I expected. I just find it ironic that the place is so chi chi looking, but the treatment of customers and the atmosphere turns out to be like that of a local bar. There’s sort of a disconnect, a dissonance, certainly not a je ne sais quoi. The owner needs to make up his mind as to what he wants the place to be, and then advertise it as such.
My head is still spinning.
March 13, 2010 at 4:29 am (Jumbled Jabbering)
Duh! Don’t you just love it when you realize, after it’s too late, that you had a brain fart and made a complete fool of yourself?
While on the phone with Air Canada trying to negotiate a refund for Dave’s unused ticket due to bereavement, yes, I asked the stupid question about when the credit would expire. For some reason, I was thinking the refund and credit were one and the same, and for a brief moment it all seemed to make sense in my head. “You can’t have both,” said the (very patient) rep.
Only after I hung up did I realize my error. That day, I’m sure I made their equivalent list of Clients from Hell?
March 12, 2010 at 8:26 am (Food)
My mom would rather cook in the kitchen than anything else, and there was no shortage of that yesterday. Mom made a huge spaghetti sauce (which we froze), a big pot of chili (which we canned), a vegetable soup (which we canned), and a gâteau chômeur with the rest of my maple syrup instead of brown sugar (which we ate). I think I have enough food to feed an army, so I won’t be going hungry any time soon.
Having my mom here to spend time with, whether in the kitchen or at Walmart, makes me feel so grateful. Lately I’ve been reading Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ (update: and David Kessler’s) On Grief and Grieving which I picked up at the library after returning from my father-in-law’s funeral, and I recommend it to anyone mourning someone’s loss. After explaining the different stages of grieving, she goes through a litany of feelings and emotions one might feel after a loss and some of the things, big and little, that change. The book has helped me to reflect on and appreciate those I still have around me, and my mom is one of them.
My mom is a funny one. She’s visiting from Timmins, Ontario, where there’s twice the population of Whitehorse and all the regular box stores one can imagine, and then some. When we decided to go downtown for a little shopping, she wanted to go to Walmart.
Okay, Walmart is my least favourite place, but being the the host, I went along with her. My mom is all about bargain shopping, so I guess that explains it; you don’t have much of a choice when you raise three kids on your own. Plus, I did end up buying two pairs of jeans for $12 a piece in a store my husband refuses to set foot in. After a while, I finally managed to guide her toward the exit because my take is, why visit stores and restaurants you have back home when you’re away on holidays? Try something new!
With that in mind, and after an afternoon of shopping and browsing with my mom, I thought I’d bring her to the Capital Hotel. The renovations give the feel of an old saloon with wooden tables, floors, bar, and walls. Because of that, it doesn’t need many people to make it noisy in there. However, they do have an interesting menu with mini-bourbon-bison burgers, fresh pretzels, and bison shepherd’s pie. Although the food was very good, the service was pitiful. The bartender/waitress was a young woman with zero common sense. Examples:
“But you didn’t!” was my mom’s reply. “Poor guy, he’s soaking wet!” The young woman looked a little embarrassed, but she should be! During the whole time, there were only three tables (two customers at each), and one person sitting at the bar. Not once did she think of bringing the mop out to wipe the major puddle at the foot of the table with the spilt drink. Yes, she was a pretty little thing, but she either needs more training, more common sense, or get the hell out of there!
Yes, the Capital is new with all its renos and new feel, but as far as service goes, nothing much changes in this town.
A new little cake store has opened with a bang this week. After hearing that the owner would be serving free samples and beverages at her grand opening, I tried to contain my drool as I walked into Urban Cake on Second Ave. (where the old Thredz shop used to be). Her decorations on cakes and cupcakes are unbelievable, and the combination of flavours is unusual and would put anyone in a sugar-induced trance.
The owner had a table set up at the Fireweed Market during the summer to sell her sweets, and what an impression these left on me. It was “layered flavouring”: I bit into some pear/chocolate/lime cake and after getting over one flavour, my taste buds were coated with another, then another. I have honestly never experienced anything like this before.
In addition to her sweets, she makes iced-tea (from scratch) and slightly carbonated fruity beverages. She sews flowery summer dresses for little girls, has re-usable cup warmers (you know those little cardboard thingies you put around your coffee cup to prevent you from burning your hands?).
Check it out! She also does custom cakes for any occasion.
Oh, and a little-advertised fact is that her cakes (I don’t know if all of them) are gluten-free.
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