my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

May 29th, 2008

Tired Feet, Taped Toes

We had another banner day yesterday: started with Sacre Coeur, then walked down through Monmartre, and found the Metro. Took it to St. Germain des Pres to see the oldest church in the city. Walked from there to a restaurant where Simone de Beauvoir and JP Sartre used to eat. Then more walking. The Rodin museum. More walking. Edith Wharton. Gertrude Stein’s house. Sketchy almost-dinner at Le Select before we decided to have pizza. It was the right choice.

I have not read more than 10 pages of any book other than my guide book.

May 28th, 2008

Blue Skies And Sweatshirts

The rain continued all day yesterday. But that didn’t stop us from exploring the city in depth. We took the Metro to the Arc du Triomphe, wandered up and down the Champs Elysse, stepped off the beaten path for pastries, had some fab fruit salad, and then wandered back up. We were wet and tired but there’s not much you can do about it and we had umbrellas, so… The area around Av Victor Hugo was quite amazing (we were walking toward the stores where they sell all the designer goods second hand; still, a purse cost 440 euros) and we had lunch: white asperagus; salad with goat cheese and bread. I did almost buy a Prada skirt but alas it was not the right size. Damn you Italian sizes. Plus, we really needed Scarbie to tell us what to buy. We didn’t have the patience necessarily to crawl through all of the racks. Although, the fashionistas around were quite spectacular.

Then we took the Metro to the old Opera house, discovered Gallerie Lafayette, did some shopping and then raced down to take a boat cruise on the Siene. I must admit, I was skeptical. Too touristy, too cheesy, too much rain, but we sat down on wet chairs outside and were awed by the views of Notre Damn, Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the place where Marie Antoinette was beheaded, and the Musee D’Orsay and its magnificient clocks, and by then I thought my feet my fall off. But after the rest of the rocking boat, we were ready to find some dinner (it was 10 PM by this point).

Today it’s Monmartre, shopping, yarn stores, Cafe Flore, the oldest church in Paris, and the rest of the writers walking tour. And whatever else we can squeeze into the next twelve hours.

May 27th, 2008

It’s Raining In Paris Right Now

We have a fabulously low-key apartment in Bastille right around the corner from the Marais where we shopped like crazy on Sunday. Saturday was spent hanging out with Tina, getting into the apartment, napping and then having a really nice lunch and dinner. Yesterday we went to the Louvre, which was madness. Absolute insanity. A whole whack of people who should probably learn to appreciate art in their every day lives and not jam up lines and ask the only ticket taker where the farking Mona Lisa sits. In the end, I meandered slowly around the Flemish and French sections, and came upon Holbein’s Anne of Cleves, which made my day. The two Vermeer’s in the gallery are also spectacular, but the more popular paintings are often crowded by pushy people and tours.

Then we took the Metro to the start of the “Bookworm” walk in our Lonely Planet guide. From Hemingway’s apartment to Shakespeare and Company to the pub where Kerouac and Ginsberg drank (I had two half pints). We saw one of the oldest churches in Paris, the remains of St Genvieve and Ici Repose le Coeur, which is the heart of someone named Voisine. I just like the translation: Here Lies the Heart. Perhaps a good title for a novel.

I’ve bought a sweater, a couple funky shirts and a super-cute skirt and today we might walk the Champs Elysses and walk up the Arc and, of course, do more shopping. We had thought about going to Brussels but the train tickets are expensive, the weather less than exeptional and we have our apartment here for the whole week. I only wish that it would stop raining. It’s not Ireland for heaven’s sake.

I’m a little homesick, especially at night, for my RRHB, my cats, my own bed, but we’re managing. The food is unbelievable.

May 23rd, 2008

One More Sleep

This time tomorrow night Sam and I will be on a plane and will by flying somewhere near the ocean. We are headed to Paris for Tina’s wedding. So far, I’m all packed (as much as I think I’m packed) and hideously behind in everything else. Our house is in a complete tip: there’s dust everywhere; my clothes are in piles all over the bedroom; and there’s a hairball on the cat’s bed that I’ve ignored for, um, three days now.

Today is my RRHB’s birthday too. We celebrated on the weekend with dinner at this amazing restaurant down the street from us called Foxley. The meal was honestly spectacular. So much so that he was still raving about it the next day when we were wandering around the antique shop near Aberfoyle (I definitely should have bought the lamp) on Saturday. Then we stopped by my parents house for dinner. My ridiculously generous stepmother was cleaning our her closet and decided to loan me her gorgeous Louis V. for the foreseeable future (poorly lit and pictured above). How delicious!

Now almost a whole other week has passed and I can’t believe this time tomorrow I’ll be on my way to another continent. Thank goodness the dress I ordered online to wear to the wedding a) arrived and b) fits. Whew.

Okay! Back to packing and I’ll be back in 10 days. If we find an internet cafe, I’ll try to update, but chances are I’ll be offline and unable to understand a French keyboard.

March 12th, 2008

Me

I am going to Paris. PARIS. The one in France.

To celebrate Tina’s wedding. See the sights and maybe hop on a super-fast train somewhere extravagant, like Brussels.

None of it I can afford.

Have dipped into the super-duper won’t-ever-touch-them savings.

But if one of your closest friends is getting married, you simply have to go.

February 15th, 2008

Two Birds: Two Vastly Different Meals

This might just be my favourite picture from Mexico. When we went into Puerto Vallarta, a man had a giant bucket full of fish bits (heads et al) that he was feeding to the various sea birds. If anyone out there knows what kind of pelican* this is, I’d love to know.


And then I had the camera with me because the falcon had flown so close to my window at work that I could catch the colour of its eye, and I wanted to be prepared to snap him if he came around again. Instead, this little black bird (again, I don’t know what it is) was eating a pizza crust at my bus stop. All of his mates flew away. But he was bold enough to a) squack at me for interrupting and b) not be in the least bothered by the slushy snow while having his/her breakfast.

*Edited to add that I looked the pelican up in the bird book and it’s a Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). 

January 31st, 2008

A Mexican Adventure?

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!

January 26th, 2008

We’re Back

And it’s snowing. How fitting.

Am super tired from travelling for many hours picking up unexpected guests on flights and hurry up and waiting.

Have a bit of a tan and a Mexican cold (oh, just let me tell you about the cab driver). Had many adventures: one of which included a horse and a waterfall.

Read 5 books.

And there was an ostrich at the resort.

November 15th, 2007

Self Portraits – Millbank And Stratford (Some Shadows Work, Some Don’t)

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.

September 29th, 2007

New York, New York

So my trip to NYC last week didn’t exactly turn out as I’d hoped. That is not to say, in the least, that I had a terrible time, but falling ill from medicine, lady problems and the remnants of a bug I still don’t think I’ve entirely shaken, meant that I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped I would.

We were there Thursday / Friday for work, which meant a lot of racing around the NY office of our company for different meetings. On the whole, I enjoyed it immensely, and truly felt that the meetings were well worth the price of the ticket to New York. On the Thursday night, I had work drinks that lasted for quite some time, and by the time I made it back up to the room, it was later than I had hoped, having a freelance assignment to finish. So…I ordered room service, which is always fun.

Cue a truly upset tummy and some other issues, and by Friday morning I was up at 6 AM throwing up that gross yellow bile that tastes like medicine, which meant I felt terrible for most of the day. It also meant that I couldn’t go to the movies with Dave and Tara, which made me sad. Luckily I had flown in on Wednesday night and stayed over with them, so I did get to see Tara and spend some quality time with her, I really miss her living in Toronto. So, by the end of Friday I was so ill I was shaking and crying. Gawd, I hate it when that happens. I spent the night ordering room service again, taking Gravol, and whining on the phone with my RRHB.

Annnywaaay, by the next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I was feeling much better. I got up early, determined to make the most of my Saturday in New York. There was just one problem and that was the fact that I had to check out of my hotel, which meant a day of carting my computer around because I was a bit scared of leaving it with the doormen in case anything happened to it. The last thing I needed was to lose my work computer.

I had an expensive breakfast at the hotel and started walking south (at least I think it’s south!) toward the Lower East Side, where I went on a great tour at the Tenement Museum. Then I met some friends for lunch, and by then, Sam was in town, so we started shopping. We ended up back at the hotel around 6 PM, rested for a bit, and then headed back out to try and find a Mexican restaurant that Carrie recommended in Hell’s Kitchen. Glad to be out of the touristy manic Midtown, we never did find it, but ended up eating at an Ethiopian restaurant that was truly delicious.

All in all, a good day.

Then, on Sunday, Sam and I tried, desperately, to find some cultural things to do: we tried to buy tickets for Rock Doves only to find out that we wouldn’t have time to see it if I was to make my plane, and even Googled some of the museum exhibits, none of which thrilled us, so we went to Saks Fifth Avenue and looked at the glorious shoes. We ate a terribly gross lunch (so disappointing) and then made our way back to the hotel where me and my still-upset tummy got on a plane and came back to Toronto.

It’s such an amazing city, even being there for four short days spent mainly inside a hotel room and/or an office building, was an amazing rush of energy.

PHOTO IN CONTEXT: The view from NYC from the crazy-expensive Saks’ Cafe. Trust me, the food sucks. The view, not so much…

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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