Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A day at the beach

Last weekend Sergio and Emilie came to Gatineau to spend time with us, say good-bye and help us pack our kitchen. We loved spending time all together and especially enjoyed our day at the bach. We saw a plane land and take off on the river, we saw rabbits in the park and got to swim with Guillaume an Estelle. What could be better!?

Goodbye Dinners

So many wonderful friends have invited us over for dinner to wish us well on our upcoming adventure to the South, here are just some of the people we've spent time with:

Amy is like a big sister to me, as she took me under her wing when I first moved to Montreal as an 18 year old in 1999. We've stayed close, and since then she got married, had two kids, then I got married, and now she's just had her third! I love her family just as much, as Darren has also become a good friend. It was great to hang out with them on our way into Montreal a couple weeks ago, and get grass stains in the front yard while playing with the boys. Thanks for another amazing meal Amy!

Right before leaving town on that same trip to Montreal we had dinner with Sarah's good friends Anita and Andre (next to Sarah), who had invited another good friend, Jackie. The food was incredible and the company was equally as great. It was a good confidence ability for my french, since those from Belgium and France are so much easier to understand than those from Quebec. Sorry my Quebecois friends, but it's true.
Raymond and Claire Bertrand have been great friends for us, and we've loved our monthly visits. They live in one of the most beautiful spots you could imagine having a house in Val-des-Monts, near Gatineau, Quebec, right on a lake appropriately named "Lac Clair" (Clear Lake). They've become like mentors for us, a good source of tips on marriage, house maintenance and all kinds of interesting things. Claire is an amazing cook! We hope they're serious about coming to visit North Carolina.
On Sunday we had a great dinner with the Charland family in Gatineau. He's been our Bishop during the last year and I've had many occassions to work closely with him. He's a man of great enthusiasm and vision, it's been a real pleasure. Gaelle is equally as wonderful and we were so grateful to spend a relaxed evening with them eating grilled salmon on their back porch. We had a crazy experience, but you'll have to click here to go to Dave's Blog to read about it.

On Monday we had dinner with the Paquette family in Gatineau, who had also invited the Gianetto's over. It was Mariette Gianetto's birthday so we had a wonderful celebration together. It was quite poignant for me to hear about her current struggles with breast cancer and chemotherapy, and to imagine all my Grandma Jones has been going through lately with the same struggles. The top picture is the Paquette family with one of the Allard daughters overlooking Gatineau; the bottom picture is us with Mariette.

Opera in the Park

We've grown to love the Ottawa area so much and will really miss evenings like this one. A couple weeks ago we went to the inagural event at the recently completed Lebreton Flats near downtown Ottawa. It's a beautiful open grassy area next to the war museum, just west of Parliament Hill, where they set up a big stage and put on great concerts during the summer. The bluesfest had big names like Bob Dylan and the Parliament Funkadelic (appropriately named for the location, though I'm sure George Clinton didn't have this evening in mind 30 years ago). We saw the Symphony Orchestra perform with the Opera Lyra Chorus and a number of incredible soloists. One of our friends from Church, Guy Charbonneau was in the Chorus, and we were very excited to see him. The woman in the second photo is Michaelle Jean, the Governor General of Canada. Since Canada is a constitutional monarchy, Engand's Queen is still the official leader, while the Governor General acts as the Head of State, the official representative of the Queen in Canada. She is an incredibly dignified woman and it's been my pleasure to see her a couple of times, including the equivalent of a bill signing ceremony. For a bill to become law she needs to give a royal nod, which is literally a nod of the head as the name of the bill is read to her.