December 28th, 2008
Yesterday morning I went with my aunt and nephew to the new AGO. The cost of admission is quite steep at $18.00 for an adult, and considering you could become a member for under $100.00, I’m guessing they’re keeping the costs high to encourage people to spend in that way. The new Gehry building is breathtaking from the outside, the oblong exterior, the brushed concrete, it’s open and inviting as well as stoic. But the interior honestly took my breath away. The new second floor, with the blond wood and natural light just adds warmth to the collection. I remember going to the AGO back in grade school — it was dark, gloomy and crowded. Not a single of these adjectives apply anymore. The new building is simply spectacular.
We went with a toddler, who was very good at sitting in his stroller and looking (not touching, I was told many times, “not touching Auntie Deanna, not touching!” He was particularly impressed with the ship’s models in the lower floor, as well as the kids’ space, where we spent some time too. We didn’t see enough of the collection, but enough to make me honestly consider becoming a member so I could stop by after work sometimes and simply wander around. Another part of that “becoming a tourist in my own city” new year’s resolution from way back.
March 16th, 2008
Perhaps coming home after one glass of wine and two pints is not the time to decide to pause for all time what bad hair I’ve had over the last few days. Good times were had by all at dinner, the first time in a very long time I’ve actually been out for dinner because the RRHB and I are squeezing every penny out of ourselves for the home renos. Have I mentioned we’ve booked the hardwood floor? Yay! Poor Meredith had a hell of time coming down to meet me on the TTC where she was semi-accosted by a man masturbating beside her. Sigh. Let’s just add that to the long list of how annoying it is to travel on the TTC these days. Where’s a “special constable” when you need one?
Annnywaay, as I said one glass of vinegar-wine and two grand pints later, drunken hair self portraits. Goodness I lead a rather embarrassing life after all.
March 1st, 2008
Splatter zone indeed. Famous last words before Act II: “There’s not enough blood.”
The weather tried very hard to act as a deterrent. We waited for a half hour for a streetcar until we gave up and finally hailed a cab to cart our soggy butts to the Diesel playhouse. Shared a pint. Found our seats that were eerily reminiscent of the show in Havana where you sit at communal tables. That’s where the similarities ended.
Lights down, the show began, great performances, hilarious moments, fantastic sets. The RRHB got splattered as he wished. And even though I’ve never seen a single Evil Dead movie, I enjoyed the camp, and the audience were so into the whole show as they shouted out the more famous lines and thoroughly enjoyed getting buckets of blood dumped upon them.
February 26th, 2008
Reasons why one should never arrive early to work:
Because that allows for the chance to run into a fellow named XXX, whom you haven’t seen in over 10 years, the last time he tried to, ahem, get friendly.
Said fellow is quite surprised to see you, and is confused as per why you might be riding the elevator in his public policy building, and then asks the ridiculous question, “So, how are you?” As if you can sum up 12 years of your life in the elevator ride to the 15th floor.
Goodness, what foolish youth.
My favourite response: Early mornings are never good for negative nostalgia.
February 10th, 2008
Last night we had one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten in the city at Cowbell, which is just a hop away from Mitzi’s Sister, where we eat all the time. My RRHB had gotten an email from the owner (we were friends in high school) wondering when he was going to come for dinner, and luckily we had Amanda here from Winnipeg for the night, so he replied, ‘if there’s a cancellation, we’d love to come.’ Isn’t life always about the timing?
The food was outstanding. Both my RRHB and Amanda had steak frites as their main course, and I had trout with oyster and corn meal fritters (B ate the oyster; he’s good that way). We started with soup and salad, had a couple glasses of wine, and then dessert, which was definitely too much food, but my goodness was it worth it. Then we ended up having a tour of the restaurant, and having never seen the inner workings of any eatery before in my life (with the exception of the summer I worked at Smitty’s pancake house, which hardly counts), it was utterly fascinating. The approach to the food at Cowbell is so inspired: they buy locally produced meat, whole (trust me, I’ve seen the cuts in the walk in fridge*), and then use every part of the animal, including the bones and fat, in various ways throughout the week. To top it all off, it’s an understated, yet utterly lovely environment (wonderful tiles on the floors, gorgeous fabrics on the benches, good artwork), and the service was truly excellent.
Like I said, one of the most lovely dining experiences I’ve ever had in the city.
*edited to correct my own ignorance: we saw a walk-in fridge (as per someone’s comment; thank you) and not a freezer. Apologies!
January 31st, 2008
Perhaps the title is misleading — because, while we had a great time, it wasn’t necessarily an adventure in the purest definition of the word simply because we stayed at a lovely resort called the Palladium Vallarta about an hour outside of Puerto Vallarta. I mean when all your meals are taken care of, they hand you clean towels each day, and there’s comfortable beach side seating, there’s not a lot to do except relax, which is exactly what we did.
So in the spirit of last year’s write up of our trip to Cuba, here’s the good, the bad and the strange and the worst.
The good: Wow was the resort ever nice, with its lush scenery (a botanical garden) and access to a fairly private beach with crazy huge waves perfect for surfing, wave jumping and other water activities (like snorkeling, which the RRHB did a fair bit of). The food was also quite good, and I ate so much fruit and veg that I felt like a squirrel shoring up for winter. The weather could not have been more perfect, hot as heck during the day, cool during the evenings, and generally spectacular and sunny. Also, our friends, Stephen and Amanda, were there too, which meant the boys could entertain themselves while us girls stayed back reading if we felt like it.
The bad: The resort, as lovely as it was, ended up being quite far from town, which meant that it was an expensive cab ride ($40 USD), and the exchange rate we were getting was terrible. It just meant that you were trapped there unless you paid an exorbinent amount of money or took a bus for hours to get into the city centre.
The strange: There was a zoo at the resort. The animals included: two ostriches, two monkeys, some lemurs, some peacocks, deer (in heat) and other birds I can’t name off the top of my head. And a botanical garden. Oh, and two crocodiles and some boa constrictors, which they promptly fed teeny WHITE BUNNIES to the horror of the kids standing there crying: “They’re not, sniff, sniff, going to f-f-fed those bunnies to the –“
The amazing: I saw a whale spurt water from the beach. They spawn in Bay where the resort was situated, which was kind of cool. Not as fun as our friend Steve who surfs as he reported his nature sightings at breakfast, many of which included seeing the whales breech. I was jealous, I’ll admit, but not enough to get me on a surfboard at 7:30 AM that far out with giant waves barreling down on me.
The activities: Lots of swimming, sunning, and reading on the beach. One day, my RRHB and I went horseback riding through the Sierra Madre mountains to a lovely waterfall, and then we all 4 went into Puerto Vallarta for a day toward the end of the trip to do some shopping and some sight-seeing. All in all, pretty amazing and relaxing. Who knew it could be that good?
The absolutely worst: So, the RRHB and I took a cab with a woman who was actually sitting near me on the beach the last day we were there to the airport. Not all that bad, right? Except I had actually moved AWAY from her because she was coughing like a maniac and the last thing I wanted from my vacation was to get sick. And then, as if my luck couldn’t get any worse, it did, as the cab driver was also deathly ill, barely hanging on, and sucking back cough drops at an alarming rate, each one having little to no affect upon containing the rattle emaniating from his brittle lungs. Oh. And then Burlington Mom says: “But it’s so very hot, couldn’t we turn on the air conditioning!” Thus trapping all of the germs IN THE CAR and nailing the last iron in my coffin. In less than twelve hours I had a blistering cold sore and a wicked cough that has since developed into sinusitis and quarantined me at home until Monday. But I have freckles and a tan!
November 15th, 2007
Research has been going well, although I’m afraid that my body is simply too run down full stop because I feel like I’ve got a bloody cold, again. I’m coughing and I have a basketball inside my chest that’s making it hard to breathe. The end decision is that I need to give up some of my extra curricular activities. School’s set so it’ll either be yoga or dance and as I’ve been too ill for dance over the last few weeks, I’ll probably hold off starting that again until the warmer months.
Annnywaay, I had a brilliant time in Millbank and Stratford earlier in the week doing research for the book, and I’ve got a mind full of great ideas I’m going to let bounce around in my brain before I get down to the serious business (like another page-a-day challenge) of my next draft. The Stratford-Perth archives were a grand success. But I think that I’ll need to go back, maybe at the end of December (depending on their Christmas archives) to read more about Millbank, as I’m having trouble finding information on the town. The Milverton Sun newspaper (now defunct) seems to be a good place to start, and I found some local history (albeit written in verse, wha?) that was helpful too.
Melanie and I had a wonderful dinner in town and my hotel room was hilarious. Roasting hot, full of potpourri pillows, and with a divided up bathroom (toilet separated from the shower stall by a wall and a pillar or two), it was actually quite homey and just what I needed. I’m a bit frustrated that I’ve been checking my blackberry too much and worrying about work but I’m trying to let that go, at least for tomorrow.
In terms of family research, my trip to the Ontario Archives wasn’t as successful, but I did find lots of Land Record information for my Irish ancestor. Now all that remains is tracking down the proper microfilm, which is so labour-intensive that I just couldn’t handle it on another empty stomach. So, I went home and had a sandwich. Sometimes, a little cheese, lettuce and bun is all you need to really feel like your life is all good.
October 5th, 2007
What happened at WOTS on our publisher’s blog…
You know, my feet still hurt.
September 18th, 2007
So I’m off to NYC tomorrow afternoon until Sunday evening, but I’m bringing my computer and camera with me, so maybe I’ll be able to write a post or two while I’m there…
But, of course, I caught a dreaded cold from my nephew, who sneezed in the most adorable way up at the cottage this past weekend, and I am now quite sick. My chest feels like it has a dozen bricks on top of it and my throat is both sore and scratchy.
It will not, however, stop me from shopping, walking, eating, and then shopping some more on Saturday and Sunday with Sam. Two girls in the Big Apple, we’ll be unstoppable. Or not.
August 19th, 2007
The weather today is absolutely brilliant, sunny, warm but not overwhelming with a hint of fall in the air. Zesty and I had brunch and then made the decision to head over to the Farmer’s Market at Liberty Village. So, before sitting down and getting back to work on my book that’s due in a couple of weeks, and spending the day at the computer again, punctuated by a couple of breaks spent fighting with the vacuum and doing some laundry, I had to share this:
So, at the Farmer’s Market, I decided I wanted to buy some fruit, and found the perfect stall for me: peaches, pears, plums, you name it, this farmer had it, some of which had just been picked that morning. I’m not lying when I say I got very excited by the rock hard pears he had on offer.
Now, I love rock hard fruit. I know it’s not normal, but I like to eat peaches and pears when they’re as hard as apples. I’m not kidding when I say I enjoy the crunch. The farmer had already packaged up the pears for me, and even threw in some sugar pears, which he said needed to be eaten when they are green, so right away. Cool. I’m planning on making fruit salad anyway.
So now that we’re trying to eat things in season, I was tickled pink to see that he also had locally grown nectarines, which are, to this day, my favourite fruit. He adds those to my bags as well.
While he’s putting everything in for me he says, “Some of them [the nectarines] are ready to eat but some might need to sit for a day or two out of the fridge.”
“Well, I like to eat them hard,” I say, “so these are actually perfect.”
Dead silence ensues.
Then he looks at me like I’m absolutely nuts and hands me a semi-squishy nectarine, and says, “Eat it when they feel like this, not like an Indian rubber ball, okay?”
(But the okay is more like he’s telling me to do it this way, and that not only is eating hard nectarines wrong, it’s just plain stupid.)
And then he proceeds to give me some intimate advice about the freshness of the fruit. “Okay!” I say with a winning smile even though I’m thinking ‘oh my god I can’t wait to get home and crunch away at these half-ripe nectarines.’
I mean, I see his point, and they do smell wonderful when they are riper, but I can’t get away from the crunch. I am addicted to the crunch. So I’m sure I’ll be doing a disservice to the farmer when I bite into the nectarines and keep them in the fridge so they stay harder longer, but a girl likes what a girl likes, you know?
Annnnywaaay. The best part is that an entire bag of fruit, we’re talking more than a dozen single pieces, came to a whopping $8.00. That’s right. Less than the cost of a movie, almost less than a movie rental. And I got a lesson in fruit management too, for free.
PHOTO IN CONTEXT: Said fruit in a bowl. Keep in mind I had given a bunch to Zesty too, isn’t that crazy?
Good grief I love the farmer’s market.