The guy sitting beside me was a talker, keen on engaging me as we sat there, waiting for the ground crew to sort out whatever issue had delayed us. A comment here, a question there. I was polite, but kept the discourse brief at the risk of initiating a five and a half hour back and forth complete with supporting pics of his kids and the recent family trip to the Grand Canyon. “Might be a while,”he said. I nodded thoughtfully and offered a non-committal “Hmmm” that could have been interpreted as agreement, distant rumination, or the onset of a stroke. According to the air hostess, we were delayed by “a minor mechanical problem”, something to do with the plane’s right engine. Minor? Engine? I remember reading somewhere that in the event of a catastrophic failure of an engine in flight – caused by, say, an errant flock of unfortunate geese – the other engine was more than capable of compensating for the loss. A plane only needed one engine. The other, it would seem, is just for show. Nevertheless, when the air hostess announced that the issue had been dealt with and we would be taking off soon, I couldn’t help but feel a tad uneasy. A feeling shared by a couple of my fellow passengers who stepped up to the front to voice their concerns. The pilot was on hand to reassure them however. “Believe me,”he said. “If there was something wrong with this plane and I thought it was dangerous to fly, I’d be the first one off.”

So we finally took off, an hour late. My chatty neighbor refocused his attention to the in-flight entertainment, spending the greater part of the trip coughing/chortling his way through Transformers. I read, finishing two books – Jed Mercurio’s incredibly engaging Ascent (described as “A Russian version of the Right Stuff”, it’s the type of book Stargate Exec. Producer Brad Wright would love), and Edmund Cooper’s The Overman Culture (an intriguing plot and an economy of language I enjoyed, but it suffers from acute blandis characteritis).

We, of course, got in late. Fortunately, I was able to skip the long wait at the baggage claim (last time I was in Montreal, I stood around for close to an hour), and head straight to Thrifty car rental where I was informed the car I’d reserved was unavailable but they could offer me either a hybrid (which would necessitate a twenty minute wait) or a Yaris (was this one of those cars that everyone in the old Soviet Union used to drive?) that was available immediately. I took the Yaris and motored off, winding my way through the perenially construction-plagued highway, the rain beating down on my economy glasnost sub-compact. I left sunny Vancouver for this? I rolled up my mother’s driveway some ten minutes later, parked, hopped out bags in tow, and was greeted by mom who warmly welcomed me back, then informed me: “You gained weight” before steering me into the kitchen for dinner: spare ribs, crab mousse, rapini, fried hot peppers, and two types of cheese. She made sure I had snapped a photo of everything before I could start eating.





Fried peppers
Fried peppers
Crab mousse
Crab mousse

 After dinner, I walked around the house until I was able to pick up the faintest of wireless connections – my laptop has to be about chest-height and pressed up against a westward-facing window, which makes approving blog comments tricky and the prospect of uploading pictures a most daunting prospect. Still – Success!

Girl in the Glass

We turned in for the night at about 11:00 p.m. – my usual bedtime. Except that I was still on West Coast time, which made it 8:00 p.m. So I spent a few hours reading Jeffrey Ford’s The Girl in the Glass. The novel, set in Depression era New York, focuses on a trio of con men who make a living running séance scams – until a seemingly supernatural development thrusts them headlong into a mystery involving a missing young girl, a fellow swindler, and an affluent community‘s dark past. Beautifully written, it’s peopled with joyously colorful characters negotiating their way through a veritable labyrinth of a plot filled with twists, turns, and, a fair sprinkling of Ford’s trademark humor. Regulars to this blog know that I’m a HUGE fan of Jeffrey Ford. Starting on one of his books is always a bittersweet experience for me. On the one hand, I look forward to the experience as he is one of very few authors who has never let me down. On the other hand, I’m somewhat saddened at the thought that one more book read means one less book to discover. I’ve yet to finish The Girl in the Glass, so I’ll hold off on a final review – but suffice it to say: So far, so excellent.

A quiet day today.  Mom made polpettini –


Hey, when’re we hitting Au Pied de Cochon?

Happy 4th of July!

31 thoughts on “July 4, 2009: Touching Down in Montreal

  1. Glad you make it back to a soggy Montreal Mr M. Hope you get over your jet lag soon.

    FYI the Yaris is a remodelled Toyota Echo sub compact. Still uses many of the same components in this econo box. So Thrifty only offers Toyotas, interesting.

  2. Sounds like you’re having fun regardless of airplanes and Russian cars 🙂 Say hi to your mom for me!

  3. Good thing you packed light otherwise fitting the luggage in the Yaris may have been a tight fit!!

  4. Bonjour Joseph,

    Tient déjà une mise à jour! Ah oui c’est vrai vous êtes à Montréal et il y’a moin de décélage horraire =)

    Sa fait plaisir de revoir votre mére et votre soeur, elles ont l’air vraiment trés gentil et aimable.

    Je vous est envoyer une nouvelle email, et j’espere que cette fois vous allez me répondre =)

    Merci beaucoup
    A demain.

  5. Dear Joe,
    Happy 4th of July! Glad you made it home safely. Please extend my grateful thanks to Ivon for the wonderful extras on SGA Season 5 DVDs. I loved all of them, including Marty Gero’s rambling 42 minute standup comedy act also known as the commentary on Brain Storm. If there was any detacher, I must say that I was extremely disappointed that Brad Wright did not do a commentary on The Shrine. Beside Whispers, Vegas and Enemy at the Gate, it was the one episode I was most looking forward to hearing a commentary. Was Mr. Wright to busy with SG.U to do one?

    Enjoy your vacation with the family!

  6. Glad you made it safely, and the carry on was a better idea, they must let you carry on more(different items) in Canada than the US. Travel can be such an adventure, characters you meet on a plane could be someone in your next book.
    Mom’s food looks delicious, so you will not be gaining any weight while there visiting.(right!!) Not sure what polpettini is,will have to look it up. but it looks good also. Moms are the best cooks!! Maybe Felix will sleep on your bed so you won’t be missing all the room you normally have with the puppies.
    And thanks Joe for another book to add to my already JOE collection, I need another bookcase now just to hold them all. The Girl in the Glass does look like one I would like to have, so really thank you. My bookstore thanks you. maybe I can get you a commission. Enjoy your visit, the week will fly by quickly, always does for me. 😉

  7. May I say that Felix is adorable and that my mom has a similar tablecloth.
    I’m glad to see that your pooches are still twittering away in your absence. If I may make a request to them, perhaps a pic of a dogs eye view of their daddy once you get back to Vancouver?

  8. Hi Joe,
    Wow scary moment there with the plane! Glad nothing happen and you got to your Mom’s ok! Hope you have a great vacation!

    Found Jeffrey Ford’s The Girl in the Glass in Kiddle edition, so I will be downloading that one after I finish The Speed of Dark..really liking the story! Thanks again!

    Got season 5 of SGA yesterday!! YAY!! Really enjoyed the Deleted Scenes and the other bonus tracks. Martin G. is just too cute!

    But I have to say that I very,very, very disappointed that there was no commentary for The Shrine!! Please convey my disappointed to whomever it should be directed to.


  9. Your mama looks good!! As does everyone else and Felix the dog. I bet your mom’s cooking is the best. It sure does look good. Once, I was at lunch with work friends and we were comenting on how good the key lime pie was to the manager. He said his wife makes it fresh for the restaurant. Your mom could do that. Pick a favorite dessert and try to sell it to a restaurant. She could make some money on the side and others could enjoy her cooking too.

    Have a relaxing time.

  10. Your mom seems like a fantastic cook!

    Is it safe to use a stray internet connection?

    Felix needs a blog of his own; that face is too cute!!! Your dogs are cute but a dog needs a nose 😀 .

    Have a great time!


  11. Glad to see you made it safely Joe and the family are all together.

    Re discussion on the Kindle. I’m actually a Sony Reader girl. I like that I’m disconnected from everything, particularly the web, while reading. It makes it more of a book experience. I used to read one non-IT book a year prior to purchasing my Reader. Now, in conjunction with Joe’s book recommendations (yes, you even have a Collection on my Reader called Joe Recs) I’m reading at least one book per week. Sometimes up to three. All because I can take it anywhere with me due to its size and weight and it can be read in direct sunlight. I’ve had mine for over a year now. Yes, to say I love my Reader would be an understatement. Anyone that travels I would recommend it to.

    And on that note, I’m off to continue reading The Midwich Cuckoos on my Reader.

  12. Heh…I was wondering if your mom would say something about your weight, considering everything you’ve been devouring lately.

    Your family looks well. Enjoy your visit!! Looking forward to your Montreal adventures!


  13. We are all duly thankful you survived not only your flight, the construction zones, and your home greeting, but also driving the rental car. Sounds like you had a far more dangerous day than anything I face. Enjoy the week and family get together, and thanks for finding that “wireless spot” so that you can continue sharing your ongoing adventures.

  14. I.
    The fried peppers made me realize how similar turkish and italian food can be! *drool*

    You’re mom’s comical… first she tells you, that you gained weight and then she’ll stuff you with her good food! 😀

  15. Gotta love mums eh? Always honest after the greetings… gonna google polpettini now, they look like tiny little eggs!

    Glad you made the trip safely.

  16. Your family is very patient with you posting pix. That dog is a-dor-a-ble, what an expression! Funny, mom demanding you take pix of the food first. And stuffing you with high-calorie food *after* telling you you’ve gained weight.

    I think I’ll try Jeffrey Ford.

    Hope you enjoy your trip!

  17. Felix is cute!
    And yes Martin Gero’s commentaries and assorted other contributions to the DVD set’s extras were hilarious.


  18. Hey Joe, glad you had a safe trip despite the triple hazards of a malfunctioning engine, a chatty flight neighbor — hard to believe, I know, but I also find that annoying — and an unknown car. Hello also to your mom and Andria (whose top I covet; it’s very pretty), and to Lili.

    Kudos to your mom for her presentation of the fried peppers and the crab mousse. She’s obviously somewhat fond of you *w*, even if mothers can always be relied on to make less-than-encouraging comments about their offspring’s appearance. (“You had your navel pierced?!!” in a tone that implied I might as well have mugged someone. Or from my highly amused dad: “Amelia, you’ve got some gray hairs growing already. Time to start slowing down.” Grrr.)

    By the way, I enjoyed your narrative style for this entry, and wonder if it’s similar to the style you used for your short story (or novella, unless you trimmed it). Think Lou would be okay with you dishing a little more on the process, or not?

    Felix looks well-named, and very friendly besides. *gives virtual scratch behind the ears*

    I’m so glad to read your praise for The Girl in the Glass, and am reveling in your remarks about Ford’s works. He’s just such an incredible storyteller, and I love how he lets his imagination run into so many varied corners and caverns in his mind (or so they seem to me — some dazzling, some labyrinthine [as you noted about the tale at hand], some quite eerie, some quietly reflective. And the humor you mentioned can be pretty amazing, varying as it does according to whether he or one of his fictional characters is spotlighted.) It’s a pleasure to turn off the linear part of my brain and just soak up the images, in parts where atmosphere is everything and the storyline is on simmer for a while. I loved Jonathan Carroll’s remark in The Drowned Life about Ford’s writing: “Jeffrey Ford is one of the few writers who uses wonder instead of ink in his pen.”

    It is a bit depressing to think of there being one less book by a favorite author to enjoy. “Of the making of many books there is no end”; still, only a small minority of them will be a real delight to read — or so I found, when I was still reading voraciously. Ah well.

  19. Find it really weird coming from the UK and having no time zones…we travel to say Scotland with no time difference…although the strange thing is that during the summer in Scotland it doesn’t really get dark…closest I will ever get to being Vancouver…LOL

    Kriss 🙂

  20. Joe, I really think you should let your inner voice out on an airplane, and scream those resounding words that the were going through your head at the time
    “OMG!! We’re all gonna F***ing die!!!”

    Intrigue your verbal fellow passenger with getting him to answer possible thoughts on the relevant subject matter like;
    “So, what do you think the ‘flash point’ of your face is gonna be when this plane goes up in flames? because from what I can see of this engine out here – we’re all gonna get crozzled with the fire thats about to break out”.

    You could even astound him with your vast aviation knowledge with “These Airbus things are very good aren’t they – apparently they’re bringing out one that can carry 3 times more people and it’s a huge saving. You know, killing 3 times more people for the cost of just one single aircraft” – and then put some show on about marveling at the modern economics of it all.

    Or – there are the sensitive questions like “So, will you be leaving any children behind?”

    Joseph, have a great time and do enjoy your flight home.

  21. Hallo Joe,

    your mom seems to be a very lovely person.

    Some questions:

    – Have you heard knews about the sga – movie?
    – I’ve heard Kanaan will be in the movie. Is he important for the story?

    Enjoy your visit!

  22. Every time I fly, I wish I’d remember to carry Sharpies in colors, so I could spice up those laminated flight safety cars in the pocket of each seat. You know, add flames to the passengers crawling out under the smoke, what would actually be said “^%$#@%&&*”, a hooded Reaper pointing to the exits.

    Or Just Death posing with a giant paintbrush. “A brush with Death on vacation.”

  23. Hi Mr M!

    Enjoy your visit home. Don’t forget to ask your Mom for another recipe!!!
    All packed, ready for the off tomorrow….Viva Espana!

    Perhaps a blog dedication for travelling blogees? (If you remember!)

    Safe travels and happy hols!

    Paul (and family)

  24. p.s. I “Binged” polpettini-that sounds sooo good. A lot of work rolling each one, though. I’m sure they were appreciated!


  25. Hey Joe,

    How about what freaks you out now? Allie, MY daughter, just passed her learner’s permit test! That means there is another crazy Florida driver out on the roads!

    And to all my fellow Floridians: You’ve been warned.

    Holy Student Driver BATMAN!!! I wonder how much it will cost to get more insurance…


    (and yes… I realize I posted this on the last June entry first… can I claim I’m in shock because my baby’s going to be driving a car? That’s my story and I’m stickin’ too it!)

  26. Merci de m’avoir répondu joseph! c’est trés gentil de votre part!!!!

    j’ai retenu votre ,réponse j’aurai surment besoin de vous posez d’autre questions dans les semaines à venir.

    Bisou, a plus.

  27. @Trish, i,m NOT comming to tampa!! Watch out in GAINESVILLE too, my nephew-bryce is driving there!!! @ DENI- watch for him, he goes to Bueholtz H.S. Hey girls, anyone going to cocoa or titusville for the launch on Sat.? I’ll be going , got a room at days inn on s.r. 50, east of 95! Can’t wait to feel the ground shake and hear the ROAR of the engines!! Sounds like an excuse for a party , doesn’t it?? The sister is comming to meet me- with the family’s too. @ Joe, HI have a good time, no i’m not ignoring you, just had to talk to my FL. people. HI to the jupiter person too!! Take care . Sheryl

  28. Hi Joe,

    I looked at the names as I paged through the comments. I realized that most don’t use their real names. Did I miss something about Name (required) hehehehehe…. Okay, I get it, name doesn’t mean what it use to.

    The article was priceless along with photos to show and tell. Always the best combination. The plane story was so funny…you should try pretending you are asleep. If you are lucky you will be.

    I believe the best was seeing your family. There is something wonderful about a son who will come home for the 4th of July. Here’s to hoping everyone had a wonderful time of making new memories.


  29. Felix’s little face is priceless 😀

    Pretty sure you’re thinking of a Yugo – don’t think the Soviet Union saw a lot of Toyotas 😉

    I love that your Mum made you photograph the food before you ate – my friends and family haven’t yet adapted to this ritual, and some even lead me to believe they resent the way I slap spoons and forks from their grasp with one hand while wielding a DSLR with the other. It’s my own form of grace, I guess, to the Canon gods.

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