No Canadians Were Harmed in the Making of this Post.

Poutine, AKA Quebec French Fries with brown gravy and cheese curds — yum!

O, Quebec.

So far, my Canadian readers are polling 3 – to – 1 in favor of me not being such a connarde after all. Thank you, Commentors Michelle, Risa, and Monique, who wrote in about last week’s post about my landing on the wrong side of the Great Quebec Accent Issue.

The only place on Earth where the Fleur-de-lis looks manly.

For the record, it wasn’t me who compared the Quebec accent to the quacking of a duck (on page 96 of Le Road Trip). I was merely reporting what a cranky Malouin shopkeeper had said about the thousands of French Canadian tourists who flock to his beautiful walled city of Saint Malo on the Brittany coast. Oh sure, yes, I laughed at the whole “quacking like a duck” thing, but I also put myself on the record as finding the Quebec accent enjoyable (right there on page 96) which does not preclude it from being somewhat like the quacking of a duck — a freaking gorgeous Mandarin duck:

That’s DUCK, not PUCK. 

O, Canada, what would we Americans do without you to give us cover as we travel through this American-hating world?

One last Canada story:

I wrote (on page 90 of Le Road Trip) that my husband and I did not travel through France pretending to be Canadians, as was the fashion of Americans abroad in the fall of 2005…remember? 2005 was the thick of that kerfuffle in Iraq that Bush and Company started when they lied to the United Nations about those Weapons of Mass Destruction and all? Brought about a decade of death and disaster to innocent Iraqis and brave men and women in uniform? And Americans could barely show their faces in public without claiming to be Canadian (or crying for permission to emigrate to The Great North)?

No, Top Cat and I copped to being Americans and took the heat.

You’re welcome, Canada.

But the whole story is about this illustration on page 90 (for those of you who are reading along, that’s page 90 in Le Road Trip):

I have a deep dark secret about this little picture. It’s a fixer-upper.

This, below, is the original sketch I made of my husband, Top Cat, thumbing us a lift to Mont St-Michel in Brittany:

As you can see, there was a problem with that weird right hand there:

Yes, that hand looks completely non-human.

Luckily, I am left handed. Which means that I can fix this simply by re-drawing my own right hand (a really tiny drawing of my right hand) and then putting it on a copier to ensmallen (that’s the technical term) it even more:


And then I drew this teeny tiny version of the right right hand, along with the whole arm, on a piece of plain bond paper. I painted it, cut it out ever so carefully (it’s really, really s-m-a-l-l), and I glued it on top of the weird right hand and arm on Top Cat, like so:

Problem is, now he has two thumbs. I  have to get rid of the old thumb from the old weird old right hand. Watch how I do it:

If I hadn’t told you, you’d never know.

Speaking of Canadians who don’t hate me, take a look at Canadian (Newfoundler) Bobbi French’s Friday blog  at Yeah, that’s me, standing in Times Square traffic for the sake of Canadian literature. Again: You’re welcome, Canada.

And I’m sure there are more than a few Canadians who are reading Carol Gillott’s wonderful blog Paris Breakfasts today (it’s about me!)

So, Quebec. Are we good now?

14 Comments, RSS

  1. Helen McHargue June 28, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

    As a former Franco-Manitoban, even further down the scale, accent-wise, I’ve never been accused of sounding like a duck and would probably consider it a compliment.

    May the curse of ensmallinization fall on any Canadian who claims to hate you. Seriously, may their nasty little thumbs shrivel up and fall off.

    Thanks for the link to Bobbi’s blog. I like reading about her ass.

    You’re the best.

  2. Margaret June 29, 2012 @ 4:31 am

    Vivian, you are so ingenious! I love how you fixed the hand!

  3. Gitana June 29, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    Yay for Paris Breakfasts to review one of the best Paris/Travel/Stay-at-Home/Live-With-Your-Eyes-Wide-Open books EVER. Enjoy your summer!

  4. Mary June 29, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

    Vivian; another blog full of wit and humor,–not to mention all the yummy painting tips..

    Paris Breakfasts loves you as much as we do. Keep in touch wth this artist. She knows good stuff when she sees it.

  5. monique June 29, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

    Hello! I just just got your book and LOVE the cover..size.. illustrations..I feel like a kid.My order also contained a book for my grandson Leo The Late Bloomer…and I thought..I feel like he will.(That I love my new book feeling!)
    Your other book is a grand temptation now.
    Of course I skipped to la page 96..and read it..and handed it to my husband .. and said tell me what you think?

    His only response was..
    “Ce n’est pas vrai que nous parlons commme des canards..Que la personne qui a cette opinion vienne au Québec et parle à plusieurs Québecois avant de se prononcer.”

    Gotta love him.
    I am not taking affront..You have to learn to take opinions with a grain of salt..So many more important things in life like health and love..than opinions on acccents.
    But he is right.You have to know more than one or a few “Québécois” before saying this:)

    Call me:)Call my husband..Call my daughter the French teacher 🙂
    All in good humor.~

    Thank you for sharing your talents with us.
    I am grateful.

  6. monique June 29, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

    Oops.. 2 c’s ..not 3.In accents.Even in French:)

  7. Kim June 29, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    A true artist knows how to make lemonade and you just proved it right here! Good for you fixing that whole hand issue.

    How well I remember being an American expat living in Europe during the previous US administration! While it was highly embarrassing to admit to being American, I have to say the people we met were incredibly understanding. Of course, I began every introduction with “Please don’t hold it against us…!” We were even told we could admit to being Canadian, if we wished 🙂 So I do hear you! I am very grateful Europeans did not associate us with our government.

    You truly are famous!

    Have a wonderful weekend…stay cool!

  8. Vivian Swift June 29, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    Monique: You are a sweetheart! Your comment made me laugh (I can hear your husband inviting us all to Quebec!) and your generosity made me happy. But please remember: the “duck” comment came from one of “the most disagreeable shopkeepers in Europe” — you gotta love those cranky Malouins.

    Thank you for bringing this discussion to full circle — Merci, I mean.

  9. Monique June 30, 2012 @ 9:17 am

    I am going to have a lovely afternoon..after a bit of gardening..I am going to peruse your beautiful book.
    It’s a treasure.Keeper.

  10. Risa June 30, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

    Monique, tu es très drôle, LOL!!! Vivian, many thanks to you. You manage to put a smile on my face…and let me tell you, this is no easy task these days. Merci Carol for helping me find Vivian. I really am enjoying both the stories, memories and beautiful paintings. xoxo hugs to all
    btw, some people ‘quack’!!! They just can’t help it 😉

  11. Deborah June 30, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

    A woman I know here (Louisville), whose mother is from France & who lived in France herself for several years, says she is fluent in 4 languages: French with a French accent; French with an American accent; English with an American accent; English with a French accent. She then cracked me up with a demonstration of each.

    I enjoyed both the blogs about you — I’m pretty sure that is fame.

    P.S. I covet that duck — like I need anything else to take care of in the 100+ degree heat!

  12. Alison July 2, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    Just finished reading “Le Road Trip” and what a fantastic read too – loved both the writing and the illustrations. At the end you say you are planning to come to Scotland – any dates decided yet?

  13. parisbreakfast July 3, 2012 @ 4:54 am

    Apology accepted.
    and I’m not Canadian(I can’t believe I spelled that right!).
    And thank you for not complaining that I used ‘The’ instead of ‘Le’ in a post on your book.
    You are most forgiving.

  14. Bobbi July 12, 2012 @ 5:12 am

    I’m sad to say that French people cannot understand les Quebecois. It’s true. I am allowed to say what I like because I am a Canadian, married to a man who lived in Quebec for many years, my sister lives in Montreal and I live in France. So, the Quebec accent, it is indeed a little duckish.

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