My web hosting site, Squarespace, recently started providing me with a big map of the world for analytic purposes, showing me what parts of the globe my readers are accessing Four Cats In The Kitchen from! I have no idea how Squarespace does this, but it is definitely a cool feature. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to start saying hello to y'all out there in the Big Wide World, and to thank you for reading.
The very first shout-out goes to my readers in Québec--bonjour! My parents were sent to Montreal for work a few years back, and wow--GORGEOUS city! Beautiful cafés, lovely local markets with super-fresh produce...I was ready to move there. Although it looks like it gets really, really cold in the winter. From the pictures my folks sent me, Montreal looks like the city stepped right out of France, very European, with delightful architecture and a walkable layout (including lots of public transit and massive underground markets).
The French influence in Québec is so charming--I love French culture, food, and customs! My mother found it a little less charming, though, when she realized she'd have to learn French just to be able to read the street signs to get around town. Nevertheless, learn French she did (and some of the linguistic variety spoken in the province, Québécois, which is practically a language of its own)! I thought she adapted really well to life in Montreal: Mom's quite the world traveler, and loves exploring new places. And her ability to master new languages is pretty impressive.
My dad tells a funny story of how every time he'd walk to work in the morning during the winter, he would find colorful little doggie booties along his route: you know how those chemicals they put down to melt ice on sidewalks make dogs' paws sting? Well, the locals solved that problem by putting little canvas booties with velcro straps on their dogs' feet, to protect them from the chemicals, but they would always fall off again while the dogs were out on walks.