Day 19

Day 16 – nothing much happened. I thought about writing about my mental health. But thinking about doing something is not the same as actually doing it. Maybe later.

Day 17 – Met Keith and went to the city to see Massive Attack with Katherine. Many thoughts. Again, maybe later.

Day 18 – Went to drop off my knitting for the Great Northern Exhibition. I was surprised by how much it all delighted me, until I remembered how I’d always wanted to enter something to the Binbrook Fair, but never wanted it enough to follow through. I was there early, and they will still trying to get set up, work through technical issues, etc. They hadn’t gotten into the groove of it yet. I saw a woman bring in pieces or art made by her children, and another bring in two laundry baskets full of quilts. Maybe I’ll enter relish next year.

Day 6

I am on the 6th and final day of my staycation.  I am left feeling like I did’t cross off enough To Do items, didn’t accomplish anything I should have.

And that’s the problem with staying home for a vacation. You’re continually torn. You’re constantly in a position where you see the stuff you should be doing/fixing when you’re trying to unwind and relax and do SFA, and feel resentful of the stuff you do/fix when you’re on your vacation dammit.

But it appears I am an equal opportunity slacker…I neglected both the things on the To Do list thatI should have done AND the relaxing things I wanted to do.

My novel is just as unwritten as before. Pages of letter paper are still blank. The half-finished embroidery project is still half-finished.  The sewing is still unsewn.


I went swimming in the river every day, spending time braced against the submerged rock in the deep spot, luxuriating in the feeling of the cool water sliding over my skin.

I spent an afternoon reading and napping in my hammock, listening to the crickets and birds.

I went for walks, for drives. I finished a knitting project and started another. I bought a crokinole board from the old gentleman at the farmers market who makes them by hand. I drove us out to Thornbury for ice cream and a walk along the water. I sat solo by the water towers and watched the sun go down. I felt sorry for myself at one point but managed to stop the mood before it could slide any further from alone to lonely.

I spent most of the time in or around the house. I love our house.

Keith asked yesterday while we were walking by the river, if it was fate or luck that landed us here. I said something flippant in answer, but it’s been on my mind. The better answer would be, it feels like fate, because I’ve never really been this lucky.

It feels…right. Right to be in our yellow house out in the boonies where most of our sparse-by-our-standards traffic is pickup trucks and farm vehicles. I love my commute through farms and fields and pastures, along rivers and the escarpment, where every view is lovely.

And I am grateful: to Keith’s mother who saved and invested so diligently to give us this nest egg, to Keith for so so much more than just embracing the move to this new lifestyle, to Side Launch for hiring me so I can live in this heaven, to whatever Fates or gods have landed me right here at this now.

Third time’s the charm

The first time I almost saw Iggy Pop was in the mid-80’s. A boy I was seeing/dating/whatevering had two tickets and invited me along. I don’t remember his name; I do however remember the feeling as the clock hands moved past the time that he was supposed to pick me up. I tried calling his apartment about 15 minutes late, but got an answering machine. At the half hour mark it began to occur to me that I was being stood up. The fact of it sank in after an hour of waiting.

The second time I almost saw Iggy Pop was in the early 90’s. He was playing 3 nights at the Guvernment, and I got tickets for the third night. I gave the tickets out to my friends, and on the Friday night we sailed past the scalpers looking for tickets and presented ours to the bouncer.

“Nice try. These were for last night.”

No amount of begging would get us in, so we spent the night getting wasted at the Horeshoe. I still have my pristine, never-been-used ticket somewhere.

The third time, I did see Iggy Pop. Last night, Katherine and I headed to the show and my mind was blown. Totally.

Worth the wait.

The Gladstone Hotel

I headed to the Toronto Indie Arts Market today to check out some of the wares. As anticipated, I did buy anything for Christmas presents. I did however buy some great hand-made beer soap and a wallet from brewersCRAP, a company that recycles  brewing materials – the wallet is made from an old malt bag, and the soap has spent grain in it as an exfoliant. Can’t wait to use it.

I also got to meet Sheryl Kirby, who I have twittered and emailed back and forth with. She’s one of the driving forces behind Beer and Buttertarts, the new food zine that bought one of my memoir pieces. She had a proof copy of the initial issue; it felt slightly surreal but incredible to hold the tangible piece and to see my name in print on page 26.

Photo Nov 09, 11 33 29 AM

One of the most interesting things about the Indie Arts Market was the venue. The Gladstone Hotel was built in the late 1800’s and has been in continuous operation every since.

Like many hotels, it’s seen it’s share of hard times. I used to deliver Meals on Wheels there in the 80’s, and always hated going in. It was basically a flop house by this point with all the smells and disrepair that go with that designation. The old gentleman I delivered to had a room on the third floor, and was blind as a result of complications due to diabetes. He had been a musician with one of the more famous big bands in the forties and fifties and had drank his money and his health away. He was lonely, and wanted to talk. I would have loved to stay and talk with him, but the strong smell of old urine and black mould made my eyes water and I always beat as hasty retreat as I could back down the wide wooden stairs. I lived in the neighbourhood and occasionally would join some of the other old guys int he cowboy bar for nickel draft. Not because I liked the bar or the cowboy music or the beer, but the price was right.

I knew the place had been bought and had undergone major renovations. The company that bought it had renovated other old buildings, but this was the first that still had residents in it. There was a documentary made about this period, Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel that is “… a riveting and extraordinary human portrait of the effects of urban renewal upon the poor and the unintentional roles artists play in the process of gentrification.” I’m going to watch the full version this week.

Now the place is lovely. The manually-operated Victorian elevator has been fully restored – the brass glints as it slides slowly between floors. Each room is unique, designed by local artists. There are permanent and temporary art installations in the lobby, the stairwell and other public spaces, and original features like wood floors and trim, brass fixtures and wooden columns have been wonderfully restored.

Photo Nov 09, 10 15 05 PM

It really is visually lovely, and I enjoyed comparing it to my memories while I talked with the artisans at the Indie Arts Market. But frankly, the smug hipsters at the check-in desk annoyed me, and the smug well-to-do moms seemed to make a job of blocking my way with their SUV strollers, and good lord man, where the hell did you find plaid skinny pants that clashed so horribly with that slightly-too-small plaid jacket, all put so artfully together with that fedora to look just so?

It’s just not my aesthetic. I’m more a run-down bar with old guys and cheap draft kind of girl in the end.

best of 2012

Yes, I know we’re already almost a week into 2013 – it took me a few days to go through the few hundred photos I took last year and then another day or so to re-surface back into this year. 2012 was a very good year and holy FSM, I did a lot of stuff for am old broad. Here’s to more fun times to come!



Apres-holiday stress was dealt with by heading to our favourite get-away spot, Pine Vista Resort. Favourite moments: going for hikes then warming up in the outdoor hot tub or by the fire.



It’s no secret that I love Niagara Falls. I love it even more in the winter.





The theme of February’s road trip was What do a summer beaches look like in winter?

Frickin’ cold is what they look like.


February was when I got my first pair of roller skates. Ten months later, and they’re still not really broken in.





March was too awesome for words. We spent three weeks in Australia, seeing friends we don’t see nearly often enough and to experience a place unlike anything I imagined.



I could have spent another few days exploring Uluru and area…watching the colours change as the sun set was one of the best memories of the trip.





Home and broke; luckily watching Spring happen is free.




April’s road trip took us to Niagara; we finished the day by hanging out around our friend Moose’s fire pit, drinking his beer.





Finally, a road trip on the bike. Felt so good to be on it after missing so much of last summer thanks to the rehab on the knee.



First skating injury – was talking while I was putting on my gear and forgot to put on elbow pads. Of course, as soon as I realized I’d forgotten them, I fell on my right elbow. Sigh.




I went on a writing retreat at a cottage on Lake Simcoe. It was grey and bleak, a perfect contract to the warmth and laughter inside.



Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time. We were riding through Coboconk and stopped to take in their summer festival which included a travelling reptile show. The woman who ran it was happy to let me hold this 2m long albino Burmse python. I really don’t understand why most people are afraid of snakes…but then I guess most people don’t understand being afraid of bridges.


July saw many small trips rather than a big one since we were still light on cash after Australia. We headed to Manitoulin Island for some camping, then to my newphew’s cottage on Tyson Lake, where we had nothing more pressing to do than go swimming or kayaking then watch some spectacular sunsets at day’s end.


We also headed to a friend’s cottage for a few days. this was my favourite view.





Headed to Oklahoma for Okie-Vegas and drank Keystone Light to stay hydrated (insert canoe joke here). It was so great hanging out and playing drunken silly poker. I was introduced to apple pie moonshine, which I liked a little too much.


I’ve been to Niagara Falls at least fifty times but have never done the touristy things. We went on the Maid of the Mist and Journey Behind the Falls, and I voluntarily went on the Sky Wheel. I almost chickened out, and the first orbit was a bit…tense, but I was able to smile and enjoy it by the third orbit. So glad I did the CBT!



We made one final bike trip before school started, riding along Lakes Huron and Erie. Good way to end the summer.



School kept me busy, because of course I did no prep over the summer. I made it out one night to meet an old friend for dinner, little knowing when we booked it that it was Nuit Blanche. the odd art installations, like this programmed Space Invaders added a nice bit of surrealism to the night.



It’s official!




The definite highlight of October was the weekend spent in Greenville, SC at Mastodon Weekend. Too many highlights to list, but being able to belatedly cross something off my summer list thanks to the efforts of the Fire God was one of the main ones.




Made it back to Pine Vista Resort for a weekend. We explored waterfalls, climbed over rocks, fed apples to horses and found Buddha in the woods.








This was the first year in 6 years that I could not go to the annual blogger bacchanalia in Vegas. I was in danger of becoming very depressed about having to be all adult when Heather decided to come visit Toronto for a weekend. We ate, we drank, we did touristy things including going up the CN Tower. It only took one martini to get me to stand on the glass floor. Now that’s progress!

While many people at school werre spending their winter holiday somewhere south, I went to Calgary. Where it was cold. And snowy. I hadn’t seen my brother & nieces in almost two years, and five days of hanging out with my family and seeing Joanada & Buddy Dank flew past too quickly.

Monday in Toronto


We woke up to a city that had won something. It felt good.



In other good news, Toronto's buffoon of a mayor has been relieved of his duties after a conflict of interest case. Apparently he didn't think that as mayor, he really needed to know the rules of the job. He has flaunted his position, used it to get away with crap like reading while driving, commandeering public transit busses to ferry his football team while paying transit customers had to wait, and skipping council meetings to go do his volunteer coaching gig at a high school because he “made a commitment”.

Yep. A commitment to a high school football team is greater than the commitment to governing the 5th largest city in North America.

*head desk

His list of missteps is long in the short two years he's been in office. He vows to appeal, and if that fails, then to run for re-election. I will do anything possible to see that re-election does not happen; he has not proven himself to be good for my city.

Never thought I'd say this, but he makes the furniture salesman we had a while back look good by comparison.


Personal PSA:

These two things should not be done on the same day:

  • vowing to exceed 10k steps on the FitBit
  • breaking in new Doc Martens.

Send Bandaids please.

under the sexy leopard spots are blisters. Many blisters.


Sundays really are tedious

The list of things I was supposed to accomplish today wasn't that long. I could have gotten through them, or at least some of them. But I didn't.

I did the usual Sunday stuff; did laundry, made soup, got some writing done, practiced guitar. I should have made cookies though since I promised the grade 9's that if I didn't have their marks ready for Monday that I would give them cookies. Their marks are not ready and I guess I need to stop for cookies on the way in to work.

Me and my big mouth.

I did play around with Processing a bit and explored the Media Computation website from Georgia Tech that one of the presenters from yesterday suggested. It has potential, and works with the Python lessons I was planning for second term. So today wasn't a total wash.


Stepped on the scales today, and the number no longer starts with a 2, which makes me quite happy.


FIve more days until the NaBloPoMo is over. I've mostly liked this, but after 25 days have come to the conclusion that my life is not nearly interesting enough for daily updates. Maybe not even weekly for that matter.



7:00am: the cat meows by my ear. I ignore her. She is old, and like all old ladies she really hates it when the routine is disrupted. She does this for a few seconds, realizes me getting up is not going to happen, then turns to lay down. In so doing she flicks her tail over my face. Again and again.

7:15 am: move the cat by a series of increasingly forceful shoves. Funny how a 13 lb cat can suddenly take on the density of a small black hole. Tail no longer in my face. We both go back to sleep.

8:00 am: I should get up. I have a computer teachers conference to go to. I see the sun peeking in around the edges of the blind and decide that if it's going to be sunny, I'm going to stay home and enjoy the day. I go back to dozing.

8:45 am: Remember the two seminars that I really wanted to see at the conference, a workshop on processing.js and a session on getting more girls in computer sciences. Merde. I get up. I stagger around slowly until I see the clock and realize that I have only 45 minutes to shower, get dressed and transit down there.

9:10 am: out the door. I run for the bus, and the driver actually stops and waits for me. Realizing that there is no way I can make the opening keynote. Since I don't remember who that is, I'm not stressing over it.

9:30 am: transit luck continues; westbound subway arrives just as I get on platform

9:40 am: southbound subway arrives at St. George just as I go up the stairs. The degree of transit luck on a morning when I am late is freaking me out a little.

9:50 am: arrive at the ACSE conference just as the keynote is finishing. Still 10 minutes before the Processing ,js session, I have time for a strawberry muffin (yum) and a coffee from the urn (not so yum)

10:00-12:20: Processing.js session is plagued with technical difficulties. Bad USB keys, sketchy wireless, faulty projector cable have got the presenter slightly frazzled and most of the attendees a bit confused. Do I click here all the time? How do I find the files on the USB? I grab the files and evernote all off the links – I'll have to play with this on my own.

12:20 – 1:00 pm: lunch. I sit at a table with three men I have never met before and listen to them talk about how to get more girls interested in Computer Science classes. Kudos to them for addressing the issue, but their ideas come from a middle-aged geek guy mindset. We spend the rest of lunch talking about how to change girls' perception of CS – a girls tech club, be transparent ask them what they want to learn, use creative, open-ended & self-directed projects. I tell them what I've used successfully: Alice, Lilypad Arduino & soft circuits, game development, app development, cross-curricular projects with art & science.

1:10 – 2:10 pm: session on getting girls in CS. The statistics are good to know and I got some great links for contests and the like, but there's not much in this one I can use. I realize about 20 minutes in that I should have gone to the App Inventor workshop instead.

2:10 pm: Bailed on the last session and the closing. I'm not willing to miss the last of a sunny afternoon so I pack up and walk through the U of T campus and Kensington Market to Queen Street West. Am amused by this sign in the window of a used record store. I pop into Romni Wools on Queen Street to get more yarn for my Christmas present knitting. Guess I should really start on that.

3:30 pm: get sidetracked on way to transit by the way the sun fell in an alley off Bathurst. Spend a half hour walking along Graffiti Alley and taking photos with the crappy iPhone.

4:00 pm: apparently I used all transit luck this morning. Waited for 25 minutes for the 504 King car while I realized that perhaps bringing a scarf & mitts might have been a good idea. Was rewarded for my discomfort by a sunset view of the city as the streetcar went along Broadview past Riverdale park.

5:00 pm: Home. Stopped at the grocery store which was not a good idea as I found myself paying for a bag of Miss Vickie's chips and a container of onion dip. While my dinner did not comprise solely of chis & dip, it was pretty close. Calorie overage ensues.

5:30 – 9:30 pm: watched many episodes of Doctor Who on Netflix US while finishing a scarf for a friend. While watching the Journey's End episode, I decide that “Playthings of Davros” will be my band's name which gives me added incentive to learn the guitar since I can't get drunk enough to sing in front of people.

9:30 – 10:00 pm: bubble bath and book. Finished both books by David Wong, John Dies At The End and This Book is Full of Spiders; liked them both in a did-drugs-been-there-saw-that kind of way. Started reading Enders Game by Orson Scott Card, one of science fiction books from the list. I would have sworn I've read this before, but nothing looks familiar in the first 4 chapters.

10:00 – bedtime: bored. The cat is bad company and there are only so many times one can hit Refresh on Twitter and Facebook. Played some Rush poker on Full Tilt, netting an increase to my bankroll of about $85. ABC poker > Eurodonk stupidity.


Why I like Toronto

Because sometimes I need reminding…

  • being by Lake Ontario
  • the view from my window
  • butter chicken from Banjara
  • the pad thai at Sukho Thai
  • ice cream at Ed's Real Scoop
  • high tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel
  • buying loose tea from the woman with the lovely voice at House of Tea
  • the Park Hyatt for Stillwater Spa and the Rooftop Bar
  • parks and wild spaces and paths and Discovery Walks
  • Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion & the Palais Royale
  • the Art Gallery of Ontario and The Grange
  • Kensington Market
  • the front of Lee's Palace
  • Rooster Coffee House and the view from its windows
  • Toronto Islands and the view from the ferry
  • riding the 501 Queen and the 504 King streetcars
  • Roncesvalles Avenue
  • Guildwood Park & the Scarborough Bluffs
  • the Brickworks
  • The St. Lawrence Market
  • Romni Wools, the TARDIS of yarn stores, and the Purple Purl
  • the Leslie Spit
  • the CNE
  • the Toronto Public Library
  • the LCBO at the Summerhill Station on Yonge Street
  • the Pacific Mall
  • walking around the University of Toronto downtown campus
  • Graffiti Alley
  • The Distillery District, Balzac's coffee, Soma chocolate & Mill Street Brewpub

Where I spent most of my misspent youth

Larry's Hideaway is now a park.

Nuts and Bolts is a copy shop.

Club Domino is now a Hard Rock Cafe.

Zoo Bar is a Shoppers Drug Mart. You can now buy diapers on the spot where you used to be able to get tattoos.

Office towers now stand in the former footprints of the Silver Crown and Catch-22.

Sanctuary is a Starbucks. Sometimes I think I see a sort-of-familiar face in there. Even old Goths need coffee.

The Silver Dollar appears to be back to it's blues/jazz roots.

The Velvet Underground is….well christ only knows what the Velvet Underground is anymore.

The Drake and the Gladstone cleaned up real nice, and are now hipster hangouts.

I feel a small pang of sorrow whenever I pass these places. Memories bubble to the surface; this is where I danced to that song I liked, there is where I kissed that boy, here is where I saw that band. The landscape has moved on, and reminds me that except for that small secret place in the back of my mind where I will always be 25, hot, and audacious, I've moved along with it. However, it pleases me no end to see that Lee's Palace, the Horseshoe and the El Mocambo are still around.

Because not everything has to move on.