Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My son, my son

I'm late for work, but I can't move. My husband comes into the living room, smiling. My son is sitting crosslegged on the piano stool with his little knee sticking out of a hole in his stripey pyjamas, and he is making magic at the keyboard. It's a newly created version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and it's beautiful and amazing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dream a little dream

Last night I dreamt I was trying to light my cigarette, but the way they make matches now(in my dream, that is), in this era of non-smoking, is an outrage (in my dream, that is)! The main problem is that they didn't have enough of the red stuff on the tips, and the little bit that was there kept crumbling off.

Finally, I got the match lit, and the wind blew it out (obviously I was outside; no smoking inside, eh).

Eventually I got another one lit and to keep the flame going long enough to light my cig, I cleverly lit my fingernail, and used this as it burned, to light up. Ah, bliss (in my dream, that is)!

IRL, I don't actually smoke. Weird.

Speaking of weird, during my journey in to work this morning, there were three subway delays - As I ran down the stairs to catch the train, I heard the tail-end of the first delay announcement; then two more, both as a result of the "passenger assistance alarm being activated". What was going on? A band of ne'er do wells activating alarms in a synchronized attack?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Participate in P.D. Martin's new book

Imagine being a writer who's brave enough to actually take suggestions from her readers.

My friend P.D. Martin (I call her Phillipa), writer of the Sophie Anderson series of books, is conducting a very cool, interactive experiment - you get to influence the plot of her next book.

Check out her Welcome Page, work your way through, and vote!

Phillipa's a wonderful story teller, and you will love (or feel intense loathing for) her characters.

My review of Body Count, the first of (so far) five books in the series:

Man, the first night I was reading it, I was so creeped out I kept checking the balcony before I turned out the light.

There were so many things I loved about this book -- all the little character details that made me feel the characters were real people. And the dynamics of all the meetings were so true to life. And I also really liked the teamwork. You know, like, Krip's a bit on the lazy side, but not really a bad guy, and somehow I could just picture Cousins, and Sam and Sophie and Rivers and Josh -- and Darren Carter.

I just loved it that there wasn't just ONE obvious love interest. I don't think I've ever read a detective-type novel where a women protagonist actually might have some choice -- it's great! Oh, I also thought it was a neat and freaky detail that the killer cleans out all his potential victim's fridge's of past-due items. I also like how Sophie's uncomfortable and embarrassed about her visions and premonitions. She's not all caught up in her own fantastic mysteriousness.

It's a great, creepy story.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just trying to do the right thing, whatever that is

A few nights ago, on my way home from work, I encountered an annoying fellow passenger on the bus home. I was in the back of the bus, with a whole bunch of other folks, and the fellow across from me said, "F^cking bitch", looking at the woman beside me.

My first reaction was my usual one - I thought maybe I didn't hear that right, while my adrenaline surged.

Next he muttered something similar, quietly, not attracting a whole lot of attention from anyone other than us at the back. Other than him, we were all women, except for a young boy. Some people reacted by steadfastly ignoring him. I sat there staring at my book, doing my best to assess the situation.

Meanwhile, the bus driver, being one of those cheery types with a great attitude about his job, announced to all of us that he hoped we enjoyed our ride, and thank you for taking the ttc, etc.

The fellow across from then put his fingers up to his forehead in an L-for-loser, again looking at the young, tomboyish woman beside me.

My survival instincts kicked in and I moved down to the middle of the bus, but kept my eye on the back of the bus. What if the guy was just being a dick to someone on his cell-phone-ear thingie? Wouldn't explain the L-for-loser. And I couldn't see if he had an ear thingie.

Along the route to my stop, it looked like the fellow wasn't doing much. Then, just before my stop, he started flicking the hat of the woman in front of him. I could see she wasn't sure if someone was doing it on purpose or not, since she wasn't facing him. She just straightened her hat a few times.

A woman who had got on the bus later, and sat down in my vacated seat, got up and moved.

I missed my stop; I couldn't leave. Nobody was doing anything. I went to the front of the bus, apologized, and told the driver I thought this fellow (the only person wearing shorts on the whole bus, so easy to identify) was bothering people. The wonderful driver pulled over, opened both door, as I got off - I had to get home, and didn't want to be the tattletale still on the bus - and went to the back to chat with the guy.

I still feel like I was cowardly. But I can't think of what else I should've done. In my old life, if I'd had a few drinks, I would've told him to stop, but I'm too scared to do that now. (In my 20s, at parties, I used to physically put myself in the middle of fights, to shock the participants into stopping; fortunately for me, it always worked; I hear from many other people that it's a freaking stupid thing to do.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Writing backwards, Part I

Actually, it's more than just seeing all our old albums that's got me all happy and excited.

It's the moving of the furniture.

I used to have a bit of a "thing" - some of my friends might've called it a compulsion - whatever it was, this thing or compulsion used to make me rearrange my furniture. A lot. Like every two weeks or so. Usually in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, which was often.

It was like a mental itch, a feeling like I'd forgotten something, or something was slightly amiss. I'd try to ignore it, because part of me would be happy with my still-new furniture arrangement, and I also felt that moving stuff around that often was in fact a little weird. But then there'd be a night when I wouldn't be able to sleep, and the new plan would've been forming in my head the whole time, even going back to when I arranged it earlier, making mental notes for next time all along the way. Once I'd get everything rearranged, I'd rest easy - actually, just easier. I never rested easy.

In my defense, I'll say that it was the first time in several years that I'd lived in more than one room. So I had not a lot of furniture, and lots of space, and nice smooth old hard wooden floors. This gave me scope for a multitude of combinations.

It's true, I did need therapy. But two other changes in my life were what I needed to actually stop doing this.

1) I moved into a new career: editing, which allowed me to channel all this energy and control issues into my work. And
2) I moved to a new apartment. This one had a problem (which I'll go into later).

But now, today, here at my desk, I'm just worried that M3I and Charlie are at home rearranging the furniture without me. Cuz it's still MY thing!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Space, the final frontier

We've started clearing out the living room, and moving furniture around for the gang of 12 that will be coming for Christmas. Where to put the tree? At this point, we have no idea, and we still don't have enough chairs, though this is practically the house of chairs. Actually we probably do have enough, but while I want people to be able to sit, I don't want it looking like a yard sale in here.

There's now a huge space across from the piano - it's great. The bookshelves filled with our combined record collection is now in our bedroom. I was kinda against stuffing our poor bedroom with more furniture, but it actually works. And seeing our old albums again, with Guess Who records, and Prince and the Revolution, and Yaz's Upstairs at Eric's (horrible album cover) made me happy; it felt like M3I and I were moving in together again.

In other news: My father-in-law is in the hospital, with some kind of infection. They can't figure out what.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The wretched logjam is broken

I've had the weirdest experience here at the office this week, of having some stuff, but not really much stuff, to do. The effect is not that I suddenly have time to run out and do my Christmas shopping and get all my other errands done, but rather I've been getting absolutely nothing done. I've been rendered incapable of forming a sentence or a even an unwritten complete thought.

Until this morning - hurrah! I rolled in around 10:40, since M3I attended Charlie's parent-teacher interview this morning. And I got to sleep in and hang around playing cards with my boy.

And hurrah-hurrah!, the logjam broke. One of my colleagues gave me an article to input, something I haven't had to do for years. The act of typing it in turned my brain back on and I got the article input and the two other writing jobs done in record time. These couple of ordinary tasks have been flopping around driving me nuts for the past few days.

In other news:
I located some old university friends - and it's made me so happy. I'd previously only been in touch with one - Laura - and after she passed away there really was no one to mourn with. Sadly, I had to tell one of her old roommates about her death, and she's really really upset, of course. But hearing about my old pal's lives over all these years (close to 25) is wonderful.

One of these friends told me she was so happy to hear from he because she'd always been grateful for some encouragement (long forgotten by me) I gave her back then, that lead her to complete something she'd dreamed about. I am happy and humbled.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Weird, but normal

The ultrasound tech said he saw nothing of concern - it looks like my lump is normal tissue. In a couple of days, the radiologist will look at the screen captures. So I'm reassured for now.

The cool thing is I got to see my elbow joint - actually both of them, since he was comparing them. Freaky.

The other bonus: that's my first ultrasound with an empty bladder!

PS: Now I'm having a holy sh*t, PTS comedown. You discover a lump - it happens just like that - and it's either okay or not okay. A friend of mine, just this weekend, lost one of her friends to cancer. I'm gonna go take a stress-tab, pack up my stuff, and ride home now.

Funny, lumpy me

We are, inadvertently, hosting Christmas dinner for the entire family. If we try to visit everyone, it'll mean driving great distances many times in bad weather.

Thanks to me trying to be funny, I emailed family members asking them what we-all should do, getting-together-wise. However, tacked on the fun, ludicrous (I thought) idea, that we should gather at our small, crowded, overheated apartment, making it a big pyjama party - because obviously we don't have room for people to stay over and no family members live in town any more.

Everyone responded with great enthusiasm. M3I, the cooking member of our partnership, not so much.

In other news: I have a weird bump on my arm - I'm getting an ultrasound to see what it is at 1pm today. It should be a cyst, but we're making sure.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Punkin

My husband has made the most delicious soup I have ever had in my entire life. I am not exaggerating.

Hub, who I'm going to refer to, intermittently, as M3I, made pumpkin soup yesterday and while it was delicious yesterday, it is ambrosia today.

The recipe? I haven't the foggiest. I know my sister in law made us a version of it at Thanksgiving that she got out of a cookbook and amended it, then sent the details to M3I, who put his own wonderful spin on it, and what we've ended up with has made my day, week, month.

Re: my sad rant from yesterday, I committed the sin I was complaining about, going on and on about things I really know little about. I was also ranting about the folks posting on the websleuths site, and that's not fair either. I think that many of their speculations - particulary opinions of what the girl might have done based on a very cursory look at this neighbourhood - are weak, only because I know the area in question much better than they do. Which leads me to:

There's no valid reason I know of to rant at the police and their proceedings in trying to solve this rotten situation and find this girl. I don't have their files, or their expertise. Just a lot of reading of Sue Grafton. That don't make me a detective.

I saw a fellow slumped against a building yesterday. It looked like he was asleep, and there was a group of lunching construction workers nearby. So I figured he must be with them and he must be asleep. Nothing more.

However, his slumped body looked uncomfortable; not a likely sleeping posture. And he was there on my way to the bank and he was there on my way back to the office. But still, the construction workers were there, so he must've belonged to them.

It bothered me. We're all encouraged to be aware of our neighbours. We all live in this city together and we should all look out for each other. I felt like I was being cowardly for just walking on by yesterday.

So I went out there again this morning, just praying he wasn't still there in that odd position. And he wasn't and that's good, but I'm not going to let a whole night go by like that next time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The search continues

Is this usually how a search for a missing teenager goes? I just heard that police are going to search the computers at the Forest Hill library. NOW? Jesus! Mariam Makhniashvili been missing since September 14. The library is, like, three doors up from where she and her family live. She's been described 10,000 times as a bookworm who can be found at the library. And they wait six weeks to check the computers at the library that is not only a three minute walk from her apartment, but it's located right in front of the high school she went to (for only four days).

Plus as her father said in this report, "Why would she use the library computer when this library only has only (a few) computers and it's always busy?" Yeah! He's right! You have to sign in to reserve one.

And just imagine how many different people have been on those computers in the last six weeks. Maybe the week of Sept 14th might've been a useful time, or when there were phalanxes of police officers marching up and down the street looking for... what?

Okay, now that I'm on a roll, the whole thing seems as if the search has been managed badly. Obviously, I have little idea of what else has been done, but seriously, as a citizen who lives on the same street as this poor child (who apparently turns 18 today), it'd be very nice to know.

I've already gone on about how long it took to launch the search. But the description of her says light brown hair, shoulder length. All the photos released have her with her hair in a ponytail. Was it in a ponytail that Monday morning?

And, seeing the photos and the video, there's no way she weighs 140 lbs as was described. I am a bit more than her 5'3" and I weigh just over that and trust me, I'm much thicker than she is in the video. Seriously. My bet is that her parents, being Europeans, gave her weight in kilograms, and some bonehead "translated" it. But, oh, check out the Interpol alert - it says: 54 kg, 119 lbs. That sounds right.

I look out our window and see the path she took. I take the same path myself, every day, and have taken that path to the bus, to the street, to the library, a zillion times at that time of day. And in fact, I walked it the very day she disappeared, and depending on what you read (she was last seen at either 8:30, 8:40, or 8:45) I walked by 40, 35, or 30 minutes after her. It would not be difficult to abduct someone along the street. Yes, there are lots of cars stopping and dropping off students, but there's also cars just parked there sometimes, with people sitting in them, smoking, whatever. And often even during that busy time between 8:30 and 9:00 am, there's no cars moving along the street at all. It can be very quiet.

I know that on the websleuths site thingie, people have gotten all upset at the school's principal for saying she didn't think there's been an abduction - lord knows, she doesn't want her students any more scared and freaked out than they are, but let's all save our anger for whoever is actually responsible for this girl's disappearance.

Oh, Jesus, check out the ctv news report - they've got aerial video of the top of the library, for f888 sake. Not exactly hot on the trail, eh! Boy, that's news helicopter money well spent! Plus you get to watch an AD, and then they get to torture the parents. Very, very depressing. My heart goes out to her family.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A refreshing change from the ujjjh

Write, write, write. Edit, edit, edit. Grumble, kvetch, grumble. Email, curse, curse.

I do like my job, but lately the frustrations have been causing my eye to wander a bit. You know how they say if your relationship has a certain proportion of negative interactions over positive interactions, it's time for intervention before things hit the rocks? Well, I don't think it's that bad, but I truly needed a change of pace.

And got one this morning.

A big bunch of us at our office got to spend several hours volunteering at Foodshare, a totally cool organization with a mission to provide, teach about, make available, "Good healthy food for all."

Here's an example of why I think they're wonderful. One of the many, many, MANY things they do is to help enable community organizations to pull together the resources to host farmers' markets in neighbourhoods without great access to fresh food. There are huge sections of this city which while being planned communities, were designed for people who own cars. Meanwhile, many of the original residents of those neighbourhoods have passed on, one way or another, and there's a new population of people living out there - within city limits - who rely on public transit, which is very sketchy out there, and walking. Foodshare helps to bring farmers' markets right to these neighbourhoods, and with their financial support, make it worth it for farmers to set up. At least, that's how I interpreted the talk we got this morning.

What we did was move a ton of boxes, chat with each other, then chow down on a nutritionally complete, delicious hot lunch.

In other news:
On Sunday, Charlie and I went to the 20th annual Word on the Street book festival. It was our third annual, and we bought a bunch of cool magazines: Dandyhorse, Spacing Toronto, and, of course, Chirp! We also ate roasted corn on the cob, giant yams, hot dogs, tiny tom donuts, coffee and freshly squeezed lemonade - lemonade served by a remarkably good-natured busy young fellow standing in a giant lemon, surrounded by wasps. He'd been stung, but, as he said with smile, only once.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cycling daze

You know how when you were a kid you just played outside in pretty much any type of ordinary weather. Rainy days are not crappy days to Charlie. They means there's puddles to jump in. Don't know about you but once I got older, most of the time I got a lot pickier about the type of weather I liked to go out in.

One of my favourite things about cycling (or camping, or having a kid) to work on a regular basis is that it puts you out there and reveals to you the delights of non-sunny perfect weather.

After I got home tonight and looked out the window into the dark, I remembered how much I love riding home from work in the dark and in the cold. It's quiet and private and stealthy, and it always seems a lot darker outside when you're inside than when you're out in it. It's your little secret.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You play editor: A contest

Last year I participated in Blog Action Day. I saw it mentioned sometime today, so I googled it and found the Blog Action day website.

Now, for a chance to gain the satisfaction of winning the editor-of-the-day award, please tell me what you think is the most irksome thing about it (the website, that is).

A hint: I find this page to be equally irksome for the same reason.

And this one. And this one.

C'mon Blog Action folks, get a clue! This could be really cool, but you've got to do better on your end. I will email them with my suggestion, but I'm going to hit the hay now, so I'll do it tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I found it - my joy

All day today and most of yesterday I've been rather joyless. The cop cars outside and the nagging worry, combined with a nasty sinus infection and some minor annoyance at work have brought me down to a flat, joyless plain.

Even coming home tonight - early - didn't jar me out of my funk. But sometime after dinner, hanging out with my delightfully funny, lively son - who's riding his bike now without training wheels super fast! And went underwater at swimming lessons today! And was just full of hilarious stories about his day - I found that I was laughing and smiling and feeling much lighter of heart.

Before he fell asleep, he was telling me about a little girl in his class. "Is she cute?" I asked him.

"No, no. But you'd think she's cute!"

"Really, why?"

"You know in Mickey Mouse? She looks just like one of the ducks."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I don't get it.

I'm taking a little break. I'm spending the day sorting receipts from 2007 and 2008 so I can (eventually) do my tax returns for those years (at some point very soon, really) - and I just got a gigantic paper cut.

All this amounts to less than a hill of beans, except that the sorting is allowing my mind to wander. Just outside our window is the sidewalk that Mariam Makhniashvili walked along almost a week ago, only to disappear. Roughly 15 minutes after she took that path, I did. It could've been sooner or a little later - I don't remember the exact time I left for work, but she could've hopped onto my bus, she might've been hanging out on the corner, but I've been wracking my brains and I can't remember seeing her. There's so many teenagers around the school at that time of the morning, and they do truthfully all pretty much look alike, and they all have gigantic backpacks.

Other than what happened to her, where is she, is she okay, is she alive, here's what I don't get: why'd they "scale down" the search yesterday? Friday night there was still at least 10 (as far as we could see) police cars lined up along the street, even blocking the driveway to her building.

Saturday morning, I looked out the windown and saw the top of a satellite antenna from a news truck. When we went outside about an hour later, it was gone and there's only the police "command centre" left. WTF?

And why'd they wait until Thursday and Friday to "scale it up" when she'd gone missing on Monday.

I shouldn't be getting mad at the police - they didn't make her disappear. But I don't get it.

Also, there's messages going out asking for her to return. Are any of them in Georgian, presumably her first language? Or Russian, which she likely understands better than English. The reports keep saying she speaks little English. Obviously I don't know everything they're doing, but...

Most recent news: they've "expanded" the search, which means they can get help from other police units. Hallelujah.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Helpless

It's a beautiful September day, just the sort of early autumn Friday that makes you feel happy and carefree.

But there's a young teenage girl from our neighbourhood that has simply disappeared, practically from our doorstep. The media's camped out in the front of the school - I noted this morning from 5 different channels - and every kid I walked by this morning was talking about it. Now mind you, the media only grabbed hold of it yesterday and she has been missing since Monday morning. Mounted police were out searching the running trail yesterday - Charlie was delighted with all the horse poop on the basketball court.

It's all questions. Why do the police take so long to step up the search? And, the biggest question - where is she? Please let her be okay. That's all I got. Please let her be okay.
Police continue to search for missing 17-year-old girl

Police continue to search for missing 17-year-old girl - Headlines - News - 680News - ALL NEWS RADIO

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-5300, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com , or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).

I don't know the missing girl, but she lives in the neighbourhood, kids in the neighbourhood know who she is, and there's signs in the building and on all the telephone poles. Here is more information and a photo of the girl.


Shared via AddThis from 680 News

Monday, September 14, 2009

Those neon lights at Yorkdale

I've been trying to find photos of the old neon art installation at Yorkdale subway station - and hurrah!

Check it out - this old Night Moves video from Global starts at Yorkdale. Remember these old things on late, late at night?



This thing is making me woozy with nostalgia. Whenever I went out of town to visit my parents, I'd come back on the Gray Coach bus, and the terminal was at Yorkdale. I'd drag my luggage over to the subway station, up and down some stairs, and then up this escalator, invariably at night. I loved this neon thing. The lights were activated by a train coming into the station.

And, here are a couple of photos at a site showing Michael Hayden's portfolio.


Okay, now I'm going to be up all night watching these addictive old Night Moves videos now that I've discovered them.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday at the Fun Farm

















On the most beautiful day in the world, we went to the fun farm. We harvested raspberries, eggplants and strawberries, and we ate butter tarts, corn dogs and pizza, and played and relaxed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

*Yawn*


After a long and incredibly stressful day at work, my good friend GDAD and I found it interesting that we saw this individual on our way home from work this evening in the location pictured (CP photo).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Good morning

As I waited for the light to change to cross the street this morning, a young man pushing a little boy in a stroller came up beside me. The little guy was clutching - and I do mean clutching - a teddy bear.

I smiled at him - he looked a little worried, but to my surprise, he gave me a huge smile. Then his dad said to him, "Can you say, 'hi'?". He shook his head, uh-uh. "Can you say, 'bye'?" He looked at me, smiled, and blew me a kiss!

And life is grand!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another reason I love cycling

I saw an old friend from a former workplace today, while I was cycling to work; she was riding right ahead of me. I wasn't sure it was her until she turned her head a bit, then I called her name. It took her a second to recognize me - my helmet serves as a disguise - then we hugged and screamed and laughed and caught up for 20 minutes.

We also discovered that we work in the same neighbourhood, so for the rest of my journey, I had a cycling buddy.

This kinda thing just don't happen in the car, eh.

In other news: On my ride home last night, I once again spotted a huge pile of I-dunno-what in the middle of the road, causing cars to stop in puzzlement, and then drive way around it. Once again, I thought of my dear friend, GDAD, then pulled over and put up my kick-stand. Once again, it was a big brown smushed lawn clippings bag, only this time it was filled with twigs, mostly likely from the Aug 20th big storm.

Most of the cars going by, had their windows open and several people called out "thank you!" as I cleared it all away (it took about 4 trips to the curb). Another cyclist came along, and said, "that's very nice of you!"

Boy, I sure felt good. Thanks for the inspiration, Ms Good Deed a Day!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The hills are alive

It was a gorgeous day here, and I had a wonderful bike ride. Yesterday in my rush to get home on time, I rode up the Casa Loma hill instead of my new usual, Poplar Plains Road. Turns out the horrid Poplar Plains hill has given me some good training - I just zoomed up the ol' Casa Loma hill. It's thrilling to feel improvement in one's personal power!

Plus, more good stuff: I've been working very hard at improving my focus at work. Depending on the day, I'm often distracted by googling every tangent that pops into my head on any article I'm working on. But the past two days, I've been just stellar, if I do say so myself. It's hard - but only at first.

:o)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

An awful tragedy

This news story is what we were all talking about today - our former MPP and attorney general had a very nasty encounter - as a driver - with a bike courier. Nobody seems to know exactly how it started, but it ended horribly, with the courier fellow being pulled and dragged by the driver, and, eventually scraped off the car. He died in hospital.

Drivers can be aggressive jerks, so can cyclists, so can pedestrians. People, in general can be jerks. But when things get really ugly, a driver in a car is protected by metal, distance and air bags. On the other hand, when a cyclist gets mad at a driver, it can be pretty tempting to punch their car - there's no distance or metal preventing them.

Thing is, a car's always going to be more dangerous to a cyclist than a bike is to a driver. Cyclists would be wise to remember that.

I don't know if it was my imagination, but on my ride home tonight, it felt like we were all being a little more cautious with each other out there. I hope so.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Can I blame it on menopause?

I was reading an article the other day about how exercising like a maniac doesn't usually end up helping us lose weight. Guess why? (It's SO obvious.)

Exercise makes us hungrier and therefore we eat more.

Tell me about it. When I ride my bike to work, I'm ravenous; by 10:39, I start watching the clock, and must eat my lunch right at noon.

So I thought I'd start a food diary, with apologies to these folks. Today, so far - it's 5:07 - I've had a custard bun, a coffee, 3 pieces of gum (sugarless, haha), roughly seven "toasted almond" truffles (I got them for my birthday), Weight-w@tchers "Santa-Fe-style rice and beans", about 30 almonds (I love almonds), two glasses of water, and an apple (which I admit I probably ate because I'm ashamed of succumbing to the custard bun this morning).

I'm starting to wonder if maybe my weight gain isn't related to (peri)menopause after all.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Not as normal

In the car today, Charlie said, "I like talking to Daddy on the phone better than I like talking to you on the phone."

"Why?!!!" I said.

"Because Daddy's more normal."

"What? What does that mean, honey?"

"You're not as normal."

"So what am I?"

"You're (pause) unique."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Peace Weirdness Stress, with apologies to Eat Pray Love

Peace
Last night we got up at 4 a.m. to go sit on the balcony and watch the northeast sky. Sadly, I didn't see a single meteor, but it was cool and peaceful and quiet, with just the rumbling of the city to listen to.

Weirdness
Then we went back to bed, and as I slept I dreamt of horrible Jobsite X! Arrgh. My old boss called me for a meeting. I went. She demanded to know why I quit, and accused me of spreading slander about the company. She accused me of "disliking the corporate structure". I retorted, "I was supposed to write a blog for the CEO and you forbade me from speaking to him."

Then, as with dreams, things got weird. My other boss (as you recall, I had several) appeared wearing green hair and green lipstick. Hundreds of people crowded the atrium of the building to prevent me from leaving. Hours and hours later, sobbing and weeping, I managed to get to the subway, but they wouldn't accept my ticket, and they sent me back into the building.

I was very happy to wake up and realize I was coming here, to good ol' Jobsite I.

Stress
Tomorrow, Charlie has to have anesthetic for dental surgery. Actual anesthetic. I will be so very, very happy when it's over.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The air is sweet and I'm smilin'

Someone did me a good deed today. I got back from doing an errand and found that there were flowers on my desk from a dear friend and co-worker who thought it'd be nice to get them the day before my birthday, so I can enjoy them today and tomorrow.

Plus I got a hot dog from a nearby vendor today - and he gave me a free pop! He told me I looked like I was in a good mood; I told him I was happy because it was my birthday tomorrow (I love my birthday), so he gave me a root beer.

:o)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I take the lane

Every day, as I ride up and down the city, my brain moves along its own route collecting all sorts of scrap thoughts. Some of them stick and become this blog, and others just slide away.

On my way to work - the down part of the daily journey - I saw:
• Construction on practically every single street I rode on. Either road work, or reno work, or total new construction from an old house being knocked down and a new one going up. If you want to live in fancy Forest Hill, you'd better realize you're moving into a dusty, noisy, road-blocky-offy - albeit leafy and expensive - enclave.

• A whole lot of garbage and recycling trucks now that the strike is over. I know everyone's glad to see them, but man, it sure was nice not having them out on the road. Tho cement trucks and extra-wide yard service trucks terrify me the most.

On my way home - the up segment - I saw:
• A "State Police" car, parked next to a couple of pilons. This little block in the university campus is used for movie shoots all time. Why this block so often? Dunno.

• A woman sitting in the driver's seat of a Porsche Carrera. Think about it. How many times have you seen a woman sitting in the driver's seat of such a vehicle? To add to the spectacle, she was talking on a cell phone.

• I also passed three or four other cyclists. Usually people are passing me, but clearly, I'm becoming a bone fide road warrior.

Speaking of my becoming a road warrior, something I've discovered en route home is the best way to turn left at a particular intersection that was driving me nuts: take the lane. There are times to be timid and times to be bold, and at this intersection, you have to just be entitled, be a vehicle and do it. There's an advanced green, which is nice and long, and I've tried every other way to turn left - walking the crosswalks (interminable), riding across the crosswalks (unsafe), using the crosswalk to sneak in front of the front car in the left lane (stupid and obnoxious), hanging out to the right of the front car in the left lane and signalling lamely (stupid and unsafe cuz the car behind may be planning to zoom past you meekly trying to turn left), and hanging out too far to the left at the front of the left lane (the next car will sit unsafely beside you, only to almost run you down as it turns left also).

So the past two days, I've boldly taken the lane, and it feels like the absolute safest way to do it. I signal boldly, I'm geared down so I can take off quickly when the light changes, and I've been wearing a bright orange shirt. Always a good cycling policy.

Here's a cool website I picked up from reading a very cool blog called Road Warrior (OMG! I thought I was the R.W.), anyway, he points to a site that has a whole bunch of gorgeous photos from the Tour de France by Brent Humphreys. Here's just one:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One very cool thing about today

I was walking to the bus stop (didn't cycle; air was too brown & soupy) this morning, and I noticed a guy nearby who seemed to be pointing his camera phone at me. I started to give him a dirty look but - just above my head on the railing was a gorgeous red-tailed hawk. I must've made an involuntary noise, and the hawk flew off - but just to the top of a light standard nearby.

How do I know what kind of bird it was? I asked the fellow with the camera - he said it's a hawk. Then we both continued on our way to our respective destinations and only then did I think I should've asked him to email me the photo he took of the hawk - gah!

Came home after work and checked our bird book and there, on the front of our book was my hawk, and on Page 54 in the Birds of Prey section, it says it's a red-tailed hawk. How cool is that? I have never seen one that close before.

Here's another very, very cool thing. Charlie's been playing the piano for me; in fact, he's playing right now. But just after dinner, he was going right to town playing a groovy tune I've never heard him play before. It was ridiculously awesome. I can say it in my blog: that child is seriously talented.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I don't enjoy having thoughts of doom

I've been trying to cut down my Cipralex intake. My regular dose is 5mg, which is half what most people take, apparently. Why? I'm tired of the weird electrical current feeling I get at times when I'm very relaxed - like when I yawn, or when I wake up in the morning. The dry-as-the-Sahara-desert mouth is not much fun when I'm cycling. I hate the weight gain. Plus the narcolepsy-like fatigue that hits from time to time - what I mean is that when I get this fatigue, I can fall asleep in about one minute, like I've just given myself a bonk on the head, and boom, I'm out.

I started cutting back a few weeks ago, seeing what a Saturday morning was like without the Friday night dose. Good results - I could stay awake and had extra energy.

Then I started dropping Tuesdays from the regimen, as well as Fridays.

Then a few days ago, I started cutting the 10mg pills into quarters, which means I've been taking 2.5mg per day.

Last night when I was falling asleep, I idly started to plan and wonder how my husband and son would cope if I died. Tonight, when I was packing up my stuff at work to get ready to go home, I idly thought, ah, my desk is a bit messy; it'll be such a pain if someone has to clean it up if I get hit by a car or die of a heart attack on the way home.

These are not dramatic thoughts; they just drift into my head. And I've been this way, to varying degrees, as long as I can remember. However, since about 1998, it's been worse; again, to varying degrees. I remember going into my son's room to check on him as he slept, I'd start thinking about all the things that could have happened to him that day (but didn't happen!), and I'd soon be sobbing. Or I'd idly - usually as I try to fall asleep - try to plan how we'd cope if something happened to my husband.

It's not a nice way to live. And before I started taking the Cipralex (which was for anxiety), this kind of thing was just part of life, and I only really noticed it by its absence.

Anyway, I still truly dislike the side effects I'm getting from Cipralex, but until I can get to see my doctor (which will be awhile, since she's moving), I think I'm going to go back to my regular 5mg dose, because on Cipralex, I don't have these thoughts.

PS: Got home from work, hub's making dinner and I'm sitting in the dining room, watching Charlie on the balcony. Suddenly FLASH-BOOM! FLASH-BOOM! Two explosions. I yell at Charlie to get inside - as does my husband. We all wait a minute or so, then go out to see what it was - various neighbours are out on the balcony too. I come inside to sit with Charlie who has his fingers in his ears. FLASH-BOOM! Again!

Only this time, we can see that there's smoke coming from one of the hydro wires, and there's a tree branch leaning on it.

Not sure what/why, but we called 9II, the police & fire folks came, and th-th-that's all folks.

Weird, eh?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I do, I do, I do, I do, I do

Right now, my husband and Charlie are in the kitchen making lentil soup, with carrots, onions, garlic, bacon, thyme, diced tomatoes and soon, a bay leaf! Since my computer is in the dining room, I can see them and - better yet - smell this delicious concoction. Gawd, it's so heavenly, I could pass out.

Earlier this week, my husband made his amazing mspicy arugula pasta salad; and on another day this week, he made his famous potato salad. Oh yes, and he also made his ambrosiatic guacamole as well.

Oops, I can't forget to mention that he and Charlie also made his famous delicious, moist, wonderfully delicious (did I say delicious? why yes it is!) carrot cake.

I chose well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

C D E F G F E D C

Charlie's taking piano lessons. I have the sweet task of sitting with him to guide and monitor his practicing. So far, so good. He wants to do his own thing at the piano, but he's got a good teacher, and he seems to like her, though he's only had two lessons.

I want him to love his lessons. He's supremely musical, and loves to play. A half hour of practicing just flies by, which is a lot for a five-year-old - 10 minutes is suggested.

I loved my piano lessons as a kid. And my first teacher was a good one; in fact, I still have her notes - for every single one of my lessons from her - and I'm using the early ones to come up with exercises for Charlie - they're still extremely useful. She used to give me a star when I had a good lesson when it was clear to her that I'd practiced. I got a lot of them :o)

After a certain point, I more or less outgrew my first teacher, and was lucky enough to get an exceptional teacher who also became a friend. She was so very musical, and seemed to genuinely like us teenagers; my lesson would usually overlap with that of a guy from my high school who was studying the same grade. That way we could listen to each other's progress. Another thing we (my younger brother took lessons from her too) all loved about her was she had us play our favourite stuff for her, not just the curriculum pieces.

Then, once I got to university, I took lessons from a teacher at the faculty of music. I only took them for a year, but she was also great, most notably expanding my musical palate to include Scriabin and Scarlatti, and helping me be able to play longer without my back hurting.

I could go on and on about all three of my teachers, but I will mention their names because none of them should go unthanked. So, I thank the three piano teachers of my life: Marge Patterson, Winifred Anderson, and Mary Jo Carrabré.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Made me reach for my inhaler, I was lawling so hard

I'm up at 12:19 am after a long weekend up north; I should get to sleep so I can wake up on time for work, but I am unable to tear my eyes away from this website, called Awkward Family Photos.

I actually made it this far.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The hug-me tree is back!


I've been passing this decorated old dead tree for years, and then suddenly it was gone. Apparently knocked down by a car.

Elicser, a Toronto artist who's been painting this groovy landmark for ages, and had it rescued. He even had a vigil for it after it got knocked over. Here's more on the story. And more. And even put it up in the ROM. Nice, and very cool, since he got to paint a mural around it, but does such a thing belong in the ROM? Maybe the AGO. But seeing it on the street is what always made me smile.

Then, I'm pretty sure I saw a papier maché version of it briefly (yes I did). Then it was gone again.

But this morning, there it was, in the very same spot, secure in a sturdy metal base. So I hopped off my bike and took a pic of it, since I have my camera today for the company picnic (we staffers were instructed to bring our cameras to participate in a game event to track down stuff gone missing). Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera cables, so can't load the photo til I get home tonight. My beloved bike's in the photo too, to the right of the hug-me tree :o)

It made me so happy to see that tree back where it belongs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Too much input

I'm taking a vow of... not sure how to phrase it.

I'm reading too much on the computer. It feels like it's affecting my work. Know how it goes?

Oh, I have to check the financial news to see if it affects any of my projects. Oh, I see there's an interesting article on parenting a shy child. I'll just take a quick peek. Oh, check that out, there's a link to another article on 40-something-working-mothers of 5-year-old boys. Better have a look.

As a long-time readaholic, I've always read - compulsively - whatever's in front of me. My grandmother's Mr. Bubble box on the bathtub ledge. Niacin, thiamin, riboflavin on the cereal box. And the internet is just too damn easy; there's endless stuff to read and look at, and whatever you think of, it's there.

See what I mean?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Better than Brangelina


Yesterday at work we were starstruck!

G00GLE, oh yes, that Google, visited our office. We might actually even do some work with them. Oh yes. Workin' with Google. I'm not even going to pretend I wasn't impressed.

The three young women who gave the presentation were smart, fun, solid and totally cool.

But all that aside, we were positively atingle when they gave out

a) Google pens

b) Google notebooks (very nice ones; once I figure out how to load a photo on my father in law's computer, I'll post mine)

c) Warm cookies (no joke)

d) Google stickie notes.

They had us at the pens.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Good grief, Schwarzenegger has his own Rae Days!

Check it out: Arnold's stolen Bob Rae's idea!

"With California on the verge of issuing IOUs, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger moved to conserve cash Wednesday by ordering state workers to take a third day of unpaid furlough each month.

The executive order signed by Schwarzenegger will reinstate "Furlough Fridays," requiring more than 200,000 state workers to take unpaid leaves on the first three Fridays of each month."

Saved the province a bunch of dough, as I'm sure it will California. But ultimately didn't turn out too good for Bob Rae, eh. Or us, since Mike Harris came next. Ugh.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

O Canada

What a FUN DAY!!!

This morning, Charlie and I went to the Science Centre, and stayed til after 4. We saw EVERYTHING, and even had a picnic on the park grounds behind it. We have a family membership there, and it's money well spent, I tell you. We put paper fish up the air thingie, we saw a 14-foot python, we saw fish, we played on a zillion different games and activities, we had pizza, we got rained on in the rainforest, we hid in the cold, dark cave, and then bought a Canadian flag and Maple Syrup lollies at the gift shop.

I actually woke up around 6:30, thinking I had to get up to go to work. Nothing is better than realizing it's a holiday, rolling over and going back to sleep.

My hub's making his famous potato salad (oooooh, bliss, makes me love him so much), and lo and behold it's been a gorgeous day, not the horrid rainfest we were expecting.

Later, we're watching fireworks from the balcony.

Happy Canada Day.

Okay, Kim, I dare you not to get chills at this one:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

30 days hath June

Does doing a bunch of extra "green" stuff for a month really make a difference?

I think so. I've always liked having a bunch of lights on. It cheers me up and since I've lived in apartment buildings for the last 20 years, I haven't had to pay for hydro much. But doing 15 Earth Hours has made me very conscious of turning off the lights as I leave the room, and not turning on so many in the first place.

As for not buying new stuff, I'm happy with how I did, greenwise, considering I didn't buy anything unnecessary and the clothes I did buy when I sorta fell off the horse were organic, and had no packaging and were from a co-op and I remembered to bring a carrying bag. As for my attempts to not being an impulse consumer, I'm glad I didn't buy the towel, the hair extensions, or the bathmats. I sorta still want the shoes. Which of course means that if I do buy them, they're not impulse. Right? And, on occasion, I do need shoes for various occasions that are not entirely butchie.

It all sounds a bit like rationalization in my mind, but I'm also struggling with how my looks have changed in the past year. I'm wider, my eyelids are drooping (I can feel their weight, eh; it's not my imagination), and I'm just, well, different. My clothes from last year are too small, and I'm delighted to have rediscovered G00dwill because now I know I can get ordinarily expensive stuff like jackets there and they're nice, nearly new and totally great for work. I don't want to look or feel drudgie. I really don't.

In other news: Tomorrow is Canada Day! A holiday right smack in the middle of the week. Hurrah!! I read in the paper today some grumbling about its not being attached to a weekend, but I don't care; it's a gift. Charlie and I are going to go to the ROM or the AGO or something cool like that. Again, say it with me, Hurrah!!!

And, Kimmie and Wendy, check this out, see who you recognize:

Monday, June 29, 2009

The machine

I'm alternately feeling excited about my upcoming days off and long weekends, and overwhelmed at how much work there is on my plate these days.

The work is pretty much all writing, rather than editing, and the thing about that is that sometimes writing takes a lot longer, and sometimes it just doesn't come easily. I like it though, but on days (like today) I struggle to maintain my focus.

Other times, after a good stretch of rampant productivity, my brain gets rubbery and it's difficult to draw out any more material from it.

But the deadlines don't care.

Tomorrow, I have to pull off a small miracle. I had a mini panic-fest once I realized just how much I'm gonna have to churn out. I've done it before though. I have to keep telling myself that.

I've done it before means I can do it again.

I just did a little search for a cool 70s typewriter image. We used to have this exact typewriter! (photo is from this delicious website: Typewriter Museum) I did all my university essays on it, and, in fact it saved my bacon one time when I had to type up a paper during a power outage. My upstairs neighbour could hear me (it was loud cuz you had to whack it really hard), and came down to see if he could borrow it after I was done; he had a paper due the next day too and his electric was useless. Those were the days, eh? I still remember how sore my baby fingers would get. But don't you miss the ding? And the carriage return. I love typewriters.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bless me father, for I have sinned

... a lot. Or a bit. Or somewhat. Depending on the Pledge-Deity's mood today.

Our apartment this morning was hot. Like Africa hot. I-don't-think-I-can-stay-here hot. I got dressed without opening the curtains or raising the blind so as to prevent the boiling hot sun from further heating up the bedroom. I grabbed the first thing I knew wouldn't make me boil even more, a yellow sleeveless top with a keyhole thingie with a tie. Then I put on the shorts I wore home yesterday, and grabbed a pair of pants to put on when I got to work, folded them up and put them in my bag.

I got to the office, which was very air conditioned, and changed into my pants.

And checked myself in the mirror and saw - Aaaargh - A large, middle-aged rectangle woman with enormous b0s0ms with a teeny tiny head on top. I'd foolishly tucked the yellow top into my shorts, and so it was too wrinkled to wear over the unfortunately high-waisted pants, so I had to tuck them in. Oh dear. I uttered a nasty, sinful oath.

I have gained quite a lot of weight since this time a year ago. It may be the hormone funfest, it may be the meds, it may be my only-recently eschewed snacking, I dunno. I don't even know how much I weigh, but I do know that all my summer clothes are too small.

Usually I only run into wardrobe malfunction danger when I ride my bike, because I choose and pack my clothes quickly and put them on later at work, but I think I was in that dangerous cycling headspace this morning because I had to run downstairs to my bike to remove the seat in order to return it. To The Store.

So as soon as the store opened, I did return the bike seat and the tool thingie, and then coolly went to the women's clothing area and tried on a bunch of items.

And bought.

New things.

Four organic t-shirts, ranging in price from $12-$15. One pair of quick-dry shorts (so I don't have to wear my hub's shorts anymore), and a pair of ultra-light capris.

When I got back to the office, I googled how to look cool wearing a brooch. I had a brooch on my desk that co-incidentally matches the t-shirt I bought (and paid for while wearing it because I was too embarrassed to be seen for another minute in that tucked-in yellow-keyhole getup) and I have my fab G00dwill jacket here today, and I wanted to put the brooch on it without looking any more middle aged than I felt.

This lady's blog came to the rescue, and you have to check it out.

So I'm wearing the brooch low, replacing the button on the bottom pocket (it's a short jacket). And I just got a compliment.

I'm not sure how to feel about breaking my pledge so thoroughly. I'm trying to rationalize it by pointing out the organic stuff. Confessing hasn't really made me feel better. But I look better.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How I'm doing on my green pledges

This month was proclaimed Green Month at work. I thought it was a great idea, and I joined the team. Everyone was to make a pledge and carry it out for the month. Here's the progress on my two pledges.

Pledge I. Buy nothing new. Since June 1, I've bought four new things: two bicycle seats, both of which I'm taking back because neither of the new seats are alleviating my poor bottom's ache; a jackknifey tool thingie for hub for Father's Day, which I'm also taking back; and, just today, I purchased a new sun hat for Charlie for tomorrow - and I think it just looks too weird on him to send him out into the world with it on his adorable head. In sum: I bought four things, and I have to take them back, all four of them.

Kinda weird, eh? Like the retail forces are trying to help me fulfil my pledge. That being said, I still want a bike seat that doesn't injure my coccyx, I still want hub to have that tool thingie to replace the one that was lost, and Charlie still needs a hat (the kids' used clothing store only had teeny hats that didn't fit).

Pledge II. Do 30 Earth Hours. This meant turning off all the electric stuff (except the fridge), and gathering one's thoughts while saving some power - a la the big famous Earth Hour in March. I did 15 of them. And then I stopped. For the sake of fulfilling a pledge, I wish I'd continued. But for my own sake personally, I decided to stop. I was tired of sitting alone in the dark; it was bumming me out, like, a lot. Charlie and my hub were both on board for quite a few of them, but then hub wanted to get stuff done and Charlie eventually objected to brushing his teeth by candlelight.

So, I turned on the lights and hung out with my hub and kid.

Anybody remember this? Better yet, anybody have the 45?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First swim of the year

Here's what today looked like:
Up...
...then down.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I think that was a test


This post should be read with the sound of commercialism, globalization, and third-world manufacturing NOT being encouraged, while looking at these coins, knowing that they were not spent today.

This is the story, in five parts, of a test that I passed. But with surprising difficulty.

Part I. I've always had a hard time finding shoes that fit my funny feet properly, and that don't hurt. Even when I was little, shoes seldom fit me properly, yielding weird bumps on my heels and the sides of my feet.

My feet are small and wide with very high arches and teeny piggies. My baby toes are usually squished inside my footwear. And in recent years, I developed(?) got(?) Metatarsalgia on my left foot, which is very painful unless I wear shoes that fit and support me just so. The situation also meant I had to give away most of my shoes.

Part II. I made a pledge to not buy anything new for the month of June. So far, so good.

Part III. At lunchtime today I noticed one of my colleagues putting on her coat and grabbing her purse. She is also a dear friend and I'd eaten my lunch during a seminar, so I was keen to get outside, away from the office. I asked her where she was going, and she replied, "W1nn3rs." Before she had completed her uttering of the word, I'd grabbed my coat and umbrella. Wisely, I left my wallet behind.

Part IV. Items I saw, coveted, and decided I wanted to buy today at W1nn3rs: Cool, fun hair extensions ($8.00), a gorgeous, beautifully striped beach towel (I forget the price, but it was a deal), a lovely cream/green/beige chenille bath mat with a little mini mat ($19.00 for both), both of which would match our bathroom and I should point out that our current bathmat's rubber backing is getting kinda crumbly, and two WONDERFUL pairs of shoes that a) fit, and b) looked good, and, best of all c) didn't hurt.

One pair were coppery-coloured ballet flats. I've always always always LOVED ballet flats, but because of my metatarcal problem, most of the ones I've ever tried on hurt my feet terribly. The other pair were cool, black, awesome Hu5h Pupp13s with flowers imprinted on them. My friend did point out their similarity to the my current shoes I was holding in my hand. BUT the Puppies were about $70 cheaper than the my current ones (which are wearing out; really, and I can only get them way, way over at the Eaton Centre). The thing about W1nner5 is that it's pretty much hit and miss whether you find shoes in your size that fit, feel good, look good, don't hurt, etc., even if you don't have funny feet with the metatarsal thingie issue. And sometimes when you go back for something you didn't buy, it's gone.

Part V. I left them all. I didn't buy any of them. Not the hair, nor the towel, mats, or shoes.

I know that some people when they do the "don't buy anything new" thing exclude things like shoes and underwear and stuff like that, classifying them as necessities. But I didn't set up such a rule when I made my pledge. And it's been pretty darn easy for me up til now, largely because I don't go into the stores. I haven't so much as resisted temptation but avoided it.

I want the shoes.

My colleague, who, did I mention is also a dear friend, bought me a cafe mocha before we went back to the office.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gregory Sumner

I think I just saw William Devane walking along Bloor. Now that puts a tune in my head. Cue the sax!



Can you believe they let an opening theme go on for that long? They sure wouldn't do that today.

Commuter tips

I am at the office, my place of work. And I'm wearing a see-+hr0ugh sh1rt.

These are the perils of the cycling commuter. Every morning I pack my work clothes into my pannier, and some mornings, like this morning, I even try them on before I go to make sure the outfit works. Unfortunately, I realize now I should've opened up the curtains to shed the light on what appeared quite clearly in the ladies' washroom mirror through my new pink shirt.

I wasn't willing to walk around so exposed for very long, and wondered how I could possibly justify an emergency trip to W1nn3rs for another shirt (which would mean buying something new; not allowed). Fortunately, my co-workers here at my place of work include good old friends, and one of them graciously lent me her very chic white denim jacket.

I'm saved, and without sin!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

O beauteous Round Room, contain me


Nearly twenty years ago, back when I was working at the Maclean Hunter building at College Park, my boss told me that very nearby, in fact, on the 7th floor of the oldeer section of the building, there was an amazing old concert hall with fabulous acoustics (tho he did not use the word "fabulous" - ever).

I'd never heard of it because it'd been closed down and closed off for decades. And then what was known as (from what I can gather) the Seventh Floor of College Park was restored to it's former Art Moderne glory, and opened as the Carlu in 2003, named after its original designer, Jacques Carlu.

And this week, I got to see it for the very first time.

The conference I was attending was situated in the concert hall - it was so beautiful! And on a break, I snuck into the glorious Round Room, one of the most special, and most gloriously atmospheric spaces I have ever experienced.

Here is the main hall, looking as it looked in the 30s.
And here it is today (photo, unfortunately not taken by me, but by this talented photographer)
And, the wonderous Round Room in its day.
And now (also taken by talented fellow, but don't worry, I vow to get back there with camera). This is what it looked like to me - I was in there about 10 a.m., all alone. I had this beautiful place to myself.


As for my Earth Hours, they're coming along nicely. Some nights I've stayed awake and been able to do two. We have lots of big windows, so if there's any light outside at all, it comes in.

As for my not buying anything new, I got my dad a father's day present in my favourite old used book store. Plus we got Charlie some almost-completely brand new shoes at a second-hand kids' clothing store.

However, I did buy a brand new bike seat yesterday. I thought a lot about it beforehand, but my old one is doing me an injury, which was quite evident after riding for 3+ hours last weekend. And since my beloved bike is also my transportation to work, and it's clean transportation even compared to the Fit, I'm looking at it like I would a car repair. I'm going to try out the new seat tomorrow.

Everything's well and good, there's even a rainbow outside right this very minute. But I spoke to my mom earlier this evening and my dad spent the night in hospital, again. Don't know what's wrong. He's home, but I don't like it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Last night was almost a complete failure

... Earth-Hour-wise, that is.

Despite my best efforts, I fell asleep, after reading Charlie three stories. And I was so convinced of my future intended ability to stay awake - optimistically ignorning my record of the past week - I left a couple of lights on, and my laptop was just asleep (like me), and not shut down.

I woke up, all bleary, at about ten to 11, brushed teeth, inhaled all my various asthma substances, and went to bed again, vowing to do better next time, and comforting myself with my Buy Nothing New success of the day! Here's how it went.

On my way home from work last night, I had to stop by a well-known drug-store chain - I know many of my friends know which one I'm talking about - to buy one single item.

Never in the history of my life have I ever gone in there and emerged with just the one single item I went in for. In fact, I've often become so distracted with all the New Stuff they have available to Buy there, that I've emerged with 11 new items but sans the thing I actually needed.

But last night, I did it. And it was a bit difficult. I almost grabbed a magazine, a bag of chips, a tin of almonds, and I fondled a sparkly, but cheap and ultimately disposable necklace - and left them all behind.

Then, if that wasn't virtuous enough, after I paid for my one single item, I popped it into the handy reusable grocery sack that I had stashed in my purse.

Score for Monday, June 8, at 10:50 p.m.:
Earth Hour: 0
Buy Nothing New: 1, but a really sweet 1.

And then the Earth had its own say, grabbing back the power I had wasted with my lights-left-on-snooze: the power in our building went out. For a good while, I think.

A co-incidence? I think not.
Earth Hour: 1
Buy Nothing New: 1

Monday, June 8, 2009

Free money

This morning, as I got off the subway, I stepped onto the escalator rather than the stairs so I could baby my sore knees - a consequence of yesterday's Ride. Behind me I heard a woman say, "Help the economy! Spend this loonie today!" I looked back to see her - no fooling - giving away little white cards with loonies attached to them.

People seemed to be reacting with disbelief. Me, since I had only about 45 cents on me, would've been happy to grab one of those loonie cards so I could buy myself a vanilla hazelnut coffee. But alas, I was on the escalator, heading up.

Probably a good thing I didn't get one what with my green pledges and all - though coffee is a consumable. I swear I would've recycled the coffee cup!

Buying nothing new - still on track, and I've decided to keep the Ride for Heart T-shirt and camel pack. Not sure what I'll do with it, but since I now know I can cycle close to 60 km in a day, maybe I can use it on a future, longer ride. I wore the T-shirt on the ride - it's made out of a weird "dry" fabric.

Earth hours - I'm planning to do my very best to stay awake this evening, and do the candle thing. Maybe sit on the balcony and watch the flowers grow...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Good clean fun

Just looking at the pics from this morning's ride is making me emotional. It was just so very quiet, and so big, and really represented some sort of ideal that we can only achieve this one morning a year. Plus, the air in the Don Valley smelled like lilacs!

Just leaving the downtown core on the Gardiner.

Heading north on the DVP. As you can see, nobody's heading south yet. I was in the early bird group.

That is wet pavement you see in pic #3. It rained.
PS - I should include some details: I rode the 50 km route, which starts at the Dufferin bridge on the Gardiner and turns around way up at York Mills on the Don Valley Parkway. I raised $645 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

And my muscles are tired, and when I got home I had a nice long bubble bath, and I've been eating lots of protein, and I'm endlessly thirsty, and my butt is indeed sore, but I feel just great! And if I could I'd do it again next Sunday morning.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Ride ahead

Tomorrow morning at 7:15 I'll be gathering with thousands of other cyclists at the starting line of the Ride for Heart, in support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

The Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway will be free of cars, and instead crowded with the likes of us. It's a total treat to ride on these otherwise hostile highways, and the sheer thrill of this has played a big part in my decision to ride in this event again. Also, heart attacks and strokes run in my family and my husband's family, so it's an obviously worthy cause. So far, I've raised $645, which means I won two prizes (not expecting these), a cool, uber-butchie, black and red Ride shirt and a hydration pack (an odd little backpack you can fill with water and while you ride, you can drink the water from a tube; it's weird).

The forecast so far is rather lousy, but as long as it's not torrential rain, I think it'll be okay.

Earth Hours #4, #5, and #6 update
Thursday night - before I put Charlie to bed, I once again got my candle out, turned off all the lights, and even took out the bathroom nightlight. I once again read to Charlie from Frog and Toad, and as he lay his head down and drifted off, I did too, just after 9:30 p.m.

Once again, it's quite easy to cut the ol' power use when one simply sleeps through it.

Last night - same story. *Sigh*

Tonight, I'll likely do it again, since I'll be leaving our place at approximately 6 o'clock tomorrow morning, and I'll need my zeds.

Despite the fact that my Earth Hours pledge has been made easy by my early nights, it has had an effect on me and, I think, my hub. We're keeping a lot of the lights off that we'd ordinarily keep on. I'm a lighting freak; I like it to be just so, and I scramble to turn on particular lights at particular times - to make myself feel homey, I guess. But this small pledge is making me break free a bit. It's sorta like travelling; you're forced to let go of your usual comforts. And it makes you feel like you can be free of them.

Buy Nothing New update
I'm doing pretty well on this front. I've not done any shopping, except for today, when Charlie and I went to the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. Charlie picked out a video and a wallet, and I bought a Liz Cl@ib0rne blouse and a white J@c0b cardigan. Total $13 and change.

PS: those prizes I won for my heart and stroke fundraising - I'm suddenly thinking now I shouldn't've taken them. I've pledged to not buy anything new, right? I know I didn't buy them, but both items are new. Hmm. When I went to pick up my Ride ID sticker (you can't enter without it), I didn't realize I'd get a prize, so when they handed them to me, I was so surprised, I didn't really know what to do. I do remember, in the back of my mind, thinking, what the heck am I going to do with the hydration pack, but I was just to surprised and possibly inhibited to refuse it. I have to consider what the right thing to do is. I'm thinking maybe I should Goodwill it. But the shirt? Not sure. I kinda like it. Does that make a difference? I'll ask my hub, one of the most ethical people I know.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Joy, pride, delight and anxiety

Charlie's school concert was yesterday - all the kindergarten kids were performing a dance. Charlie's been practicing at home and for our various family members since at least March. And since the K kids didn't get included in the Holiday concert at Christmas (boo!), I was looking forward to this rather a lot.

In addition to the fact that it's a small school, so we know lots of the kids throughout the grades. (But who cares about them!)

We sat in the front row - we were there early to get a good seat - and waited. The curtain was closed, and we watched various pairs of feet gather on the stage. My husband and I fretted as we watched to find Charlie's shoes appear. Ah, there they were. Charlie was positioned front and centre of the stage. OMG!

The curtain opened, the drumming began, and our boy danced and danced. My camera takes 30 second videos, and I got four of them. Then, much too quickly, it was over, the wondrous magical kids took their bows, adorably. And the curtain closed.

I quickly plopped my camera into my bag, almost dropping it. I was so anxious I couldn't feel my arms.

Later, in the evening, before I was put him to bed, I got my candle-in-a-jar out and took the nightlight out of the bathroom, in preparation for Earth Hour #3.

I read Charlie a story from Frog and Toad, "Spring is just around the corner", and we chatted about the concert, and I told him I was proud of him. He harrumphed and smiled. And slept. And, er, so did I.

My Earth Hour Tip for Day #3. It sure is easy to keep the power off when you're asleep. Didn't even waste a match.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Earth hour, day 2

Tonight I'm posting before I head into our second earth hour of the month. Last night, I have to say I found looking into the computer screen to be rather jarring after the peace and tranquility of sitting and writing by candlelight.

As for my other pledge, I didn't do any shopping today. I shop so seldom it's not really a huge challenge. I did buy a coffee, after lunch, which was a poor choice in two ways: a) I didn't need a coffee, I really just needed to get away from my desk and go outside; and b) it made me feel totally lousy by about 5 o'clock. I had such a nasty blood sugar drop, I took the streetcar and subway home instead of my bike. Ugh. On my way to the streetcar, I was passed by two cyclists, count 'em two, talking on cell phones while riding. It's difficult to even comment.

I just put Charlie to bed. He was uncharacteristically talkative about school today, telling me that sometimes the other kids liked to make weapons, like knives and guns, and wondered if kids liked to make weapons when I was little. I also found out that another kid hit him today. Ugh.

Now, off I go to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chased by rainbows

After I put Charlie to bed, I came into the kitchen, lit a candle and washed the dishes. And then I wrote this posting - on scrap paper! with a pencil!

Pourquoi? Everyone at work is supposed to pledge an action that will benefit the environment. In a burst of enthusiasm I joined the eco task force, which then meant (as I saw it) that I needed to lead by example and do something nobody else would do.

My pledges:

a) Thirty days of "Earth Hours", which is why I washed and wrote by candle light.

b) Inspired by my super-fun trip to G00dwill last month, I decided I shall not purchase anything new (other than consumables, e.g. toothpaste, food, etc.).

So far, so good: I didn't buy anything at all today, not even a coffee, never mind new shoes. And my hub joined me in solidarity by cranking up the lantern to read by.

Now a photo: Beauty and the Beast (or, Rainbow and Highway), taken in the rear-view mirror on our way up north on Friday night.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One degree of separation - and I'm in outer space

Bob Thirsk is headed to the International Space Station today!!!

He's going to be working there for six months - check out what he'll be studying.

Many years ago, back when I was doing science communications, I worked on a project for the Canadian Space Agency - and I had to chat several times with Bob. He was helpful and friendly, and an astronaut - how cool! I'd also chatted at the time with Bjarni Tryggvason (who apparently does not black out at 4G), and I've been following the careers of both of them ever since. And of course the coolest thing is that they've both been to space since the time I spoke to them.

Good luck Bob! I'm sure this is a dream come true!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hurrah!

Many years ago I walked to my job at the university along a busy, narrow sidewalk, crowded with students, sometimes spilling out to walk on the busy 4-lane street.

Today that street is still four lanes, but two of them are now bike lanes. The sidewalks are wider, and there's a band of grass and sometimes (gasp!) trees between the sidewalk and the street. It's not perfect - there's still parking beside the bike lane, which creates a door-prize hazard. But it's beautiful, especially at this time of year what with all the blossoms on the trees, and it's appropriate; the university is filled with student pedestrians and cyclists.

I just found out that city council has voted in favour of another major street in this city getting the same treatment. The street will be narrowed, the fifth car lane will be eliminated, and bikes lanes will be added, grass, plants and trees planted. And a whole heckuva lot of pedestrians, residents and cyclists are smiling. And another big bunch o folks are mad as he11.

This columnist is clearly happy about the decision. But yesterday, The Star's editorial said they didn't like the plan. This is the same newspaper that's been doing a whole series on the bike versus car battle", bits on "sharing the road", etc.

This city is famous for coming up with reasons to not create bike lanes. Despite the official plans, we are way, way, waaaay behind. I truly think this is the right move. It's not like they're closing the street completely like they're actually trying out in Manhattan on Broadway. They're making it four car lanes instead of five. So for all those folks getting all hot under the collar over this, I encourage you to get a grip.