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


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.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I actually had a real official "follower" here for awhile.

After a day or two of playing it cool, I checked out my follower's blog. I played it cool some more.

But then I commented, supportively I must say, on this young follower's blog. And then, not sure if that was why, but it looks like I've been dropped. No more follower.

NBFD (see, I'm still cool).

PS, in more celeb-siting news, I saw the blond guy from TVO Kids on my way to work on Friday, the CBC sports guy (Scott Russell - I just googled him) at lunch, and Mathew McConnahy (wearing a shirt, yes; a suit in fact) on my way home from work.

Just because you're a cyclist...

it doesn't mean you're not a jerk.

And just because you're driving a car, it doesn't mean you are one.

Yesterday morning, Charlie and I ventured out in the car to get to the toy store right when it opened. We had three birthday parties and the rest of the weekend ahead of us.

We motored quietly (have I mentioned how quiet the F1T is?) along a back street; it's residential with speed bumps and cars are parked on both sides. Three men on bikes were ahead of us. No problem. We typically don't move too fast -- Charlie can see the speedometer from his car seat and lets me know when I'm too close to the speed limit. As we approached the three blokes, they moved out ahead of us so they were all three abreast.

I thought maybe they were turning left at the next cross street and were fanning out in preparation. Nope. They were just blocking me. No, it was not a Critical Mass ride (that's not til May 29). No they were not young hard-core courier types being political. They were 40-50 something gents, well heeled, blocking me and my kid in our car.

Our vehicle is pretty quiet (as I think I've mentioned) so I wondered if maybe they couldn't hear me. But then a big ol' van came up behind us, riding our tail. And at this point, both of us trying to think of ways to pass. Couldn't though, eh. Not with cars parked on both sides. Too narrow.

Why didn't I honk at them? Because as a cyclist, I never want to be one of those drivers.

But I also make a big effort to not be one of those cyclists either. I always signal, I don't weave around cars, I wait to see if Joe Driver is going to turn right without signaling, etc. etc. And I do my best not to be a jerk when I'm on my bike and when I'm in my car.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ask me anything, and I'll know it

I saw Annette 0'T00le going into the hotel across the street from the office. And Spinal Tap's in town. And she's in the show. And is married to David St. Hubbins. Ergo, Spinal Tap's across the street, like, right now. There's even a fancy custom tour bus parked outside (actually two).

I'm just so in the know. But only about stuff that applies to my generation, of course.

Update: okay, it can't be their bus. They've got a gig in Connecticut tonight. And the bus is still there.

So I don't know everything. Just what's necessary.

A good night

After work yesterday I did go home to my boy, and boy was I glad I decided to pass on the play (tho I woulda liked to see it, of course). Mostly, we watched tv, snuggling together despite the heat. We also pretended we were gargoyles, and then read stories. A perfect evening.

I also had a lovely shopping stop on my home at Goodwill, where there was plenty of that to be had. The place was hot and busy, but a whole bunch of women-on-their-way-home-from-work were trying on clothes outside the changerooms (no mirrors in there). Chatting, trading stuff, all agreeing you have to try it on before you buy,, oh that colour looks great on you, one woman suggesting I try on a cool dress (cute, but too short). Lordy it was fun.

Even better, I found two cute jackets - one Club M0nac0, the other Jac0b - and a groovy sweater. I had exactly $8.00 in the pocket of my shorts. The three items came to $7.99. I have to say I was near-ecstatic.

Then I rode home on my bike with the air filled with the scent of lilacs and blossoms to my dear sweet family.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


All day today it's been nearly impossible to concentrate. All I know is that I've got a ticket to go see a play tonight, a fun night out with a whole bunch of friends, and all I want to do is go home and be with my kid.

Such sad, horrific news.
And as enraged as I know it makes me and everyone else, one has to wonder, and hopefully the experts will someday examine, why and how someone gets to the point where they are able to take another human being.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oh my

Another day where I have to face the fact that I'm foggy.

First disturbing incident was forgetting my bundle of new books on Saturday, and not even realizing I'd forgotten them until I was home, and also being completely clueless as to which stage in our travels I'd forgotten them. I was convinced I had them the whole time.


Today's disturbing (albeit less so) incident was dashing out to do an errand at 2:30 and out on the street looking down to notice I'm still wearing my cycling shoes with my office clothes. Not a tragedy but, in this tres chic environment where I'm already possibly the one voted most likely to wear running shoes with "dress pants", it just further cements my drudgy image. Part of me doesn't care, and I wish I could just put on a pair of pants and a MEC long-sleeved t-shirt every single day. But part of me does care. I want to look nice. I do! But I need help.

Foggy and drudgy.

The other thing: My clothes are starting to seriously not fit. Either it's the slowing metabolism that come with this joyous time of life or it's the meds, which make me both hungry and thirsty pretty much all the time.

I still remember at time when I'd be at work and I wouldn't snack at all. Seems a little foggy now though, mind you.

Foggy and drudgy. And pudgy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Me11ow ye11ow

I've always felt that dandelions have never been given their due. At least in this country. My Dziadek, as the story goes, made dandelion wine. The greens can be used in salads, and both greens and roots in soups. Today, however, we made Dandelion Flower Cookies.

First Charlie and I went out and picked flowers. There's a school nearby and there was already a fellow out at the edge of the school yard (which is beside a park), digging up greens. He'd already gathered a huge bagfull and told us he was going to cook them.

A few weeks ago Charlie and I came across a woman digging up greens in practically the same spot. "What are you going to make?" I asked her. "Money!" she said.

The recipe for the cookies calls for honey, eggs, oil, flour, oatmeal, and dandelion flowers (not the greens). To get the flowertops you squeeze the green part and pull the yellow out. Charlie's showing what it looks like.
Then you mix it all together (see photo). Drop teaspoon-sized dollaps on the cookie sheet (we actually did tablespoon sized.

Bake them for about 11 minutes (in our hot oven, that is), and voila!

You've got Dandelion Flower Cookies.

How do they taste? Not bad. A little, er, furry.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Two highlights

I have had two great cultural events this week: yesterday, a book launch for my friend Philippa's book, The Gargoyle in my Yard; and on Wednesday, a Midsummer Night's Dream at the opera by Benjamin Britten.

Gargoyle: Charlie and I went to the book launch, at a nice new bookstore - McNally Robinson - at the totally and completely different Don Mills mall, now known as The Sh0ps at Don Mills, which is set up like a small downtown. Don't know if it's a total success, but it's an interesting setup. There's even a big fountain and town square kinda thing.

There were tons of people at the launch with lots of kids and, happily for Charlie, cookies. Philippa's publisher made a lovely introduction noting how it's likely that none of her friends and family in the audience are surprised that she has published a novel (so true), and then our friend Philippa read. Charlie had to get up on my lap so he could see better, and loved it and laughed (and can't wait for us to read the book at bedtime). Then we all lined up for book signing - we bought four copies - and after the long line had dwindled, they realized they'd sold out. Then a huge group of us including the author trooped down the street for a celebratory dinner.

The fly in the ointment was my getting home with Charlie and realizing I didn't have our big bag of books. AAAAURGH!!!! I couldn't remember where I'd left them, largely because I thought I had them the whole time.

I dropped Charlie at home with my husband and drove the 45 minutes back to the restaurant, and, no, they hadn't seen them. Curses! I spent the drive back home trying to make myself feel better. But it was rather difficult since all four copies of Gargoyle were signed for different people, and we'd also bought some other books - totally cool ones too - for Charlie.

Sad story turned happy when I got home. An email from Philippa: they had my books. OMG, talk about relief. Bedtime story is set for tonight, and the signed gift copies are set aside for mailing out.

Dream: My other cultural highlight this week was a night at the opera. I've only been to one other, which was wonderful, but just okay for my tastes. This Midsummer Night's Dream was magical and eerie, and a little creepy, as well as funny and otherworldly. The voices were beautiful and the music got right into my bones. The stage and performance and forest and audience breathed together.

And the fairies. The first scene (unlike the play) opens in the forest, with just the fairies at night, all of them (there were lots of them) swaying slightly. The fairies are all members of the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus, and in their unearthly costumes, they all looked like, well, my son.

I feel elevated. Here's a photo of just two of the fairies (from the H0uston production; couldn't find fairy fotos from the Toronto production, but they looked just like this).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A new kind of nightmare

I had a nightmare last night that I quit my job. I'd given notice and as my last day approached, I suddenly sat bolt upright and thought, what have I done?

I told my boss I changed my mind, I didn't want to quit, I like it here, please don't make me go! But the biggies wouldn't go for it. She obviously doesn't want to be here, and she's quit twice before (true, IRL), they said.

When I woke up I was quite distressed. Plus I felt a little silly. I'm actually in a good job that I like, working with great people, in a company that's doing well in the recession. Not your typical nightmare fodder.

So, if you find yourself too relaxed, content or satisfied with your life, please drop me a line. I can come up with something for you to fret about.

Who'd want to leave this?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A, B, and C

Right now I can smell these gorgeous flowers, given to me for one of our anniversaries (we have several) — the one commemorating our perfect first date — which was the best date I'd ever had. The fact that every day with him since has been as good is why I like to celebrate it. Yeah, yeah, corny, sentimental, but it's true. A small bit of proof: I got to have a three-hour nap today, while my hub took Charlie to the lake.

In other news (outward-looking): check out the sky we had last night! A sunset rainbow. Spring is truly kick-off time for the sky show we get from our living room window.Now here's the weird thing about that building you can see with the blue lights at the top. Last week, for a few days, the lights were green. Since they turned the lights on, late last year sometime, they've been blue. I thought they'd changed them to green for spring, or something, who knows. But then after that wicked wind & thunderstorm last Saturday, they came back on blue. And it wasn't my imagination they were green; I have a witness: a woman in my office lives in it and she saw the green too. She really did.

In other news (inward-looking): it's been hot flashes now for about six days straight. For some reason, every time I have one, it reminds me of having Braxton Hicks.

Wee wee wee wee all the way home

Now Charlie's sick with something like what I had. He's feverish, coughing, sneezing, droopy... but cheerful. I watched a bit of the news the other night and they were saying that there's probably loads of people out there with swine flu, but since it's really just the flu - which like any flu can be dangerous for a small percentage of people - most of them (us) don't realize it, and will get better on their (our) own.

I figure I had it; the timing was right, I'd been in three different airports two days before I felt ill, etc. I was super-sick. (My mom had wanted to take me to the hospital. But within about 24 hours, I'd improved a lot.)

By the time I'd really heard about the official spreading of the piggy sickness, I was past the point of testing positive. And although I considered going to the doctor, it really felt viral, not bacterial, and I couldn't face even the idea of sitting in my GP's crowded boiling hot waiting room for two hours only for her to say, I don't think you need antibiotics. Though she likely would've said, you've got the piggy sickness! Get the duct tape! Don't go out!

Oh yeah, and now apparently, the thing's been renamed C3P0 or something because it's unfair to piggies. Er, I don't think calling it swine flu - a thing that comes from pigs - is unfair. Never mind the fact that I'm sure pigs don't care if we name the flu that came from their poo after them. I'm sure they'd be just as happy to strike a deal where they no longer supply the B in our BLTs.

Back to the flu. They identified Patient Zero. A little boy in kindergarten that lives in a town surrounded by pig farms. They had him on the news, with his dad, and they showed his name. A cute little kindergarten boy who'd gotten very sick was identified internationally as being the first person (testing positive, that is) with swine flu. But oh no, don't blame the pigs - or the pig farms, or all the pig poo in the kid's town's water system. It's absolutely appalling that the little boy would be identified so very publically in this world of crazies.

PS: Okay, I just did some fact checking - it's the World Health Organization that wants to call the swine flu, "HlNl A" (see? C3P0 was not far off) because they say it was "causing countries to order the slaughter of pigs" unnecessarily. I'm thinking it's perhaps a bit late in the day for that. (What's a group of pigs called? Not a sleuth... Ah, a drift, a team or a herd.)