Saturday, January 31, 2009

OK, it is the weekend - no short single topic blogs for me!!

WinterCity Delights!

Just a brief follow up on Friday’s blog. I scooted over to Nathan Philips Square last night in time to see the spectacular show Pi-Leau by Close-Act. It was uncanny how the square gave the perception of being underwater watching the aquatic animals floating overhead in an undersea adventure.

The “creatures” are actors harnessed in a rig (allowing them to do somersaults high above us) which was wheeled around the square and as they did the audience (which were occupying the same space) were pushed aside to make room.
This made quite the jolly scene as we tried to stay out of the way of these rolling contraptions. But it did mean that we got to experience many of the actors (with their marvellous “costumes”) up close.
I got some great pics, a few of which I have uploaded to this blog. Close-Act performs this show next weekend, Fri and Sat at 7:00. They also have another different acrobatic act performed in each of the afternoons.

The WinterCity Finale show is next Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

Addiction Fascination?

I had to chuckle as I read the article in the Saturday Star's Insight section by Geoff Pever. His commentary was about our fascination about addiction stories. Californiation and Celebrity Rehab are just a few examples of some recent TV stories which capitalize on this. He made the point that George W. Bush should have given up the bottle with the help of AA (he joined no "program" when he kicked his habit). If he had joined AA he would have learned in Step xx to "promptly admit one's mistakes".

I think all of us should pay attention to that notion. Mistakes are part of life. We all make them. Little ones, big ones, mistakes of no consequence and mistakes that shame us to our very core. The important part of a mistake is how one owns up to it. Firstly, acknowledge and understand what the mistake exactly was. What went wrong and why? What could have happened differently? Who was hurt? Then, with whatever avenue is available, make amends to whomever we may have wronged. Lastly, take what ever lessons that can be learned from the mistake and to apply those lessons to our life going forward. That is the way to grow and improve our lot in life.

Talking about addiction, I was dumbfounded to see my old friend Basile (yes, I blogged about camping with he and the girls just yesterday), on the CBC Sunday news program just today! He was being featured in a story about the Homeless World Cup of Soccer, which was held in Melbourne Australia in December, 2008! Basile was the team captain and spoke on the program about his challenges with addiction and the resulting homelessness. I was shocked and awed to see him being featured on this current affairs documentary. If you want to know more about “Homeless World Cup Soccer” you can go here:

Anyone applying for the title of “Recessionista”?

Recessionista was a new word I encountered this week. The word was used to describe an individual who is embracing the recession and making the best of it - what we need to come to cope well in these recessionary times. In context of the radio talk show I was listening to (guess which station the program was "Fresh Air") the word was being used by Anita Steward who was discussing with the program host what we can do to reduce our food budget. The ideas were not unique - buying locally and cook and dine more often at home than out at a restaurant.

I could take those thoughts to heart. Particularly buying local, which is slightly less convenient given my local farmer's market is closed for the season. I love to cook but lately, with only myself to cook for, my cooking has been limited to the weekends - when I prepare one or two meals which also double as my week day lunches - brown bagged to my office kitchen and microwaved at noon hour. Somehow I have slid into week day evenings becoming more often opportunities for socializing over dinner out with friends.

I really don't prefer restaurant meals and they have become rather routine. Dinner out is no longer special and at the end of the week I have spent a fair penny during these evening. I am going to rethink this and see if I can get more into cooking during the week than I have been. I think I will need to get a larger fridge to handle all the leftovers, though!

Political Commentary

Will Obama meet his first challenge in the Canadian public's perception that he is Canada Friendly? I recall some months ago, before I was swept up in Obama fever that there was some discussion that he had a protectionist stance and this may well not bide well for Canada if he won the US election. So I guess no surprise in the wording of the legislation his party is putting forward for approval this week. I can only hope that he has a change in heart and really listens to what may happen if we end up in a global trade war.

Budget week - what do you think? The Newfie's are not pleased with the budget however Ralph Goodale, the Liberal House leader said the provisions which penalize Newfoundland appear to be a "mistake" and could be reconciled. We shall see if this is corrected. From my reading Harper has a bone in his bag for just about every interest group. The big stickler is that most of these bones require matching funds from the provinces and the municipalities to liberate the federal money. While the Ontario government has said they have money in the bank, this might not be true of all provinces. Moreover, municipalities are being as hard hit by the recession as everyone else.

Toronto’ Mayor has already complained that the money will present challenges. Since they have already allocated all the money they have to current projects and the Federal money can only be attached to new projects they will need to backburner their ongoing priority projects and start new ones rather than expedite what is now in progress. Hmm, some good points, I think. Wonder if Harper is going to notice this "mistake" and offer a correction?

Wonderful Music abounds in Liberty Village

Went to the Liberty Cafe this week and had a great night listening to music. The main act was “Big Rude Jake”.

The entertainment started with this musician playing guitar and singing. I thought it could be described as blues but my dinner companion, T. thought that it was a bit more hill billy - and it was. He had a bit of difficulty keeping tempo and many songs seemed to speed up as he went along, but on the whole, I liked his music. I thought he was great enough, but shortly after he started other musical friends started arriving and it was clear that it was to be some sort of a Jake and assorted friends night.

It was a delightful evening of music - not sure who all the folks were by name, but there was a woman with the sweetest voice who plaid a ukulele (as well as piano) and sang some wonderful songs. At one point she sang a Leonard Cohen tune and by request several more, despite some difficulty remembering lyrics. The evening was all the more intimate because of this. There was another fellow who accompanied her on piano and another woman with a spectacular jazzy voice who sang (among other things) a bosa nova tune. A great evening was had by all.

The food and ambience of the Liberty Cafe is great. Want to check it out?

Thinking about a beach...

I have been dreaming about being be on a nice sandy beach. A deserted one would be best. There would be a thatched hut (it is my daydream and I might as well daydream big) or tent with a campfire right on the beach for sitting and singing and talking at night. A comfy beach chair for reading and an umbrella ,(one with a thatched roof, in keeping with the surroundings) would be at the ready for relaxing and to enjoying the wonderful view of the sun, sand and water. Hot sand and gentle salt water waves lapping at the shore would provide a soothing melody in the background. There would be cooking by campfire and I would sip red wine from a plastic cup with a like minded companion. These are wonderful day dreams for a day in the middle of winter.

I have been thinking about a spectacular camping trip I had with my daughter Tegan, her girlfriend Mary and my live in companion at the time, Basile. We camped at Sauble Beach, on Lake Huron, for a few weeks that summer about 4 years ago, as I recall. Days were spent lounging at the beach, playing in the water and evenings were spent by the campfire laughing and giggling and having a great time. We would stay up at night until the camp warden came by to tell us to be quiet for the night. It is the only time I have ever been shushed by the campgrounds police! In the mornings we fried eggs and bacon, packed snacks or a picnic lunch and headed to the beach for the day.

It was the year that Tegan finished grade 8 - just before going into high school. Basile kept us all in stitches and generally provided entertainment. He let the girls bury him in the sand - and make him a sand body resembling a mermaid. We all laughed at his "sand boobs". He was always up for water volleyball with the girls, kibitzing with them in easy repartee and day in day out was charming and an ideal camping-mate.

The campsite had 2 tents - one for us and one for the girls, and of course we had the requisite big tarp in case it should rain.

A great time was had by all - wonderful bonding opportunity for all 4 of us - and at the end of those weeks we were sad to go home.

Memories such as those are the real treasures of life.

I miss summer.

As I look out my window across the lake I see a brisk wind has come up. It has driven the pack ice that was lodged at the mouth of thee west channel, through the channel and into the Harbour itself. The south-west wind (apparently 23 mph according to my iPhone) has whipped up the waves and created a seersucker pattern on the surface of the water. The wind is racing the patchy clouds across the sky and the sun is peaking in and out of the clouds causing the circles of light which play on the water to put on a swirling light show. An engaging scene.

I get out my binoculars and check the beach at Hanlan’s Point. The waves look to be about 2-3 feet high. At the beach, the waves are creating a spray which flies up into the air as they hit the barrier wall of snow and ice, which is about 20 feet out from the natural shoreline. If the cold temperatures and if the wave action continues, there will be an interesting ice formation to see there in the coming weeks.

I found a video on the net which shows scenes from a Toronto Island beach. The video is by Rob Thompson (Funded by an Arts Counsel grant). The promo from the site says:
"The video "Toronto Island Beach" is a unique video shot from a single stretch of beach over the span of an entire year: from hot summer days to frozen winter evenings, from the intricacies of life to the shadows of death. This video was designed to be downloaded from this web site (it’s free) and watched on your laptop, iPod or cell phone from the same location it was shot. It is a unique viewing experience that lets you watch the seasons change before your very eyes. “It’s a strange and mesmerizing experience. Truly weird to be sitting there on a hot summer day but see a snow storm on the video!” Download. Go to beach. Watch! It’s that simple. "
I wouldn't say it was "mesmerizing", but interesting enough to watch. I might add it was weird as well to be watching a video showing beach sand, water and sun which were shot at an ice covered beach I can see from my window. I am sure the location is Hanlan's point (the beach I view from my window) because of the fat, naked old man in the video. Hanlan's point is our naked beach ( Toronto's only official "clothing optional" beach) where, according to my daughter, old fat men hang out to watch the (the very few) young ladies who have the "balls" (so to speak), to go and sunbath.

You can download the video from the link above, or go to this URL to get more info and see other videos that this guy has produced.

Friday, January 30, 2009

WinterCity Festival

I saw the other night that they were constructing a big stage at City Hall. As it turns out this weekend starts the 2 week Toronto Winter Festival called WinterCity. It is Toronto's turn to get out and enjoy outdoor activities and yes, dare I say, defy the weather. I am hoping it won't be as bitterly cold as it has been during January. Hard to resist the urge to stay indoors and cocoon rather than go out when it is -15 and below.

We are all familiar with the wonderful events that are organized in the City of Toronto during the summer; seemingly there is something every weekend. For instance, Beaches Jazz Festival, Taste of the Danforth and Caribana to name a few. WinterCity continues Toronto's tradition of free music venues, street entertainment and more.

This Year's WinterCity features concerts at Nathan Phillips Square, street theatre by Close-Act and RBC's Winterlicious Lodge. There are also "warm up" events at lots of indoor venues. There are lots to do and see during the next two weeks and I would encourage everyone to get out and enjoy.

The "Spectacle show" is presented on the stage at City Hall at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday night on both weekends. The act is a Dutch street theatre troupe Close-Act presents the North American premiere of an act they call Pi-Leauis. They are an acrobatic act presented by RBC. The description sounds quite incredible as Nathan Phillips Square is transformed into a mythical under-water world that floats high above the audience. I am sure to catch one of the performances.

At the same time as WinterCity there is the annual Winterlicious restaurant promotion. During this 2 week period many Toronto restaurants are featuring a Winterlicious Prix Fixe Menu at a significant discount price. It is a chance to try some of Toronto's upscale restaurants at a fraction of the normal price.

You can get more information about WinterCity and Winterlicious at:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Token Blog Entry

OK, I confess. I am really not enthusiastic about writing my blog today. Did you ever have one of those days where you were so comfy in bed (and so enjoying the morning sleep) that you didn't want to get up? That is me this morning.

Didn't get my blog done yesterday. Was hoping to get it done last night, but evening plans prevented that. I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening listening to Greg Wyard (I have spoken of him in other blogs). BUT I was out far too late - why did I have to stay right till the very last song of the last set??? I am old enough to know better!

So this morning rolled around rather abruptly and my sleep deprived body just didn't want to get out of bed. I am someone that needs my beauty sleep. I pulled myself out by just after 6 and had the shower talk sternly to my tired body. Composed this short blog while I put on coffee and dried my hair. I am almost running on time for getting out of here and I am getting a blog (of sorts) written.

I did a bit of walking last night and very much enjoyed my walks around town despite the snow. The temperature was pleasantly warm compared to the -15 to -20 degrees we have been having. City Hall was nicely light up with skaters doing their thing on the ice. They are setting up a stage for some performance coming up (note to self: find out when/what)... the snow was thick on the ground but also in the trees and it was a winter wonderland. Quite pleasant.

Ok blog done, day started.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Real Estate Matters

Every few months I receive a detailed "Market Report" relating to condos for sale or for rent in the downtown area of Toronto. I received the latest yesterday and held my breath while I looked it over. You see, as mentioned on a previous blog, I own the condo that I live in and I also have purchased a condo "to be built" in the same neighbourhood. If the real estate market was doing what it had been doing over the last many years I would be looking forward to a tidy profit at some point when I sold one or both of them. When I purchased these units values were increasing and there was no job uncertainty. Now this is not the case. So I wonder how I will fare with these investments over the next period of time and I hope like hell that I won't be in a position to have to sell either one of them in the near future. However that may not be the case, so I look at these market reports with quite some interest.

So the word is (well according to the RE/MAX agent that authors the thing) that downtown Condo sales will be 5% higher by the end 0f 2009. Prices for smaller units will continue to appreciate as buyers will not be able to afford the larger ones. Also, the rental market will grow significantly, as many people will be knocked out of the housing market as they will no longer qualify for mortgages. This is good news for me as I hope to rent one of the condos rather than just sell one to pay for the other. Of course that depends on the good will of my bankers, but I expect that they will be happy to collect another mortgage payment from me each month. My scan of the market report left me moderately pleased that all was not in the toilet.

Some encouraging thoughts for those who are looking to buy a condo in the Toronto area during these desperate times - there are apparently big bargains to be had buying purchase assignments. These are resale’s of as yet unbuilt condos. When someone buys one of these condos from plans and it is 4 or 5 years from the date they put in the offer circumstances can change. They just might not qualify for the mortgage as it comes closer to the closing date (job loss) or they may want to get out of a deal and buy something ready to move in now rather than waiting another year or two. What you do is buy their "deal" from them. These folks can end up selling at a loss on their original price - they may even help you finance your down payment a bit to unload the obligation. As it gets closer to the occupancy date – the date they take possession there are deals to be had, according to this RE/MAX agent.

I am not counting on it, but this agent still anticipates that downtown Toronto Condo values will double within 10 years! That would certainly suit me fine!

Hmmm, 540 words, I seem to have a bit of trouble with the length of these things. Although I have been told that 300 words seems just to short. What do you think? (comments, anyone?)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gong Hei Fat Choy!

...which means "Congratulations and be prosperous". This is the 1st day of the Chinese New Year of the Year of the Ox. It is celebrated on the first day of the first lunar month and we have 15 more days to celebrate the New Year according to Chinese custom - sort of like the 12 days of Christmas I guess. Sadly, I did not serve a a fish for dinner tonight with head and tail still attached – so I guess I miss out on the togetherness and abundance that it would have brought. There are a lot of customs and superstitions that are interesting to say the least. For more info you can go to :

Obviously, then today is an important day for those "Oxen Folk" who by being born in this year are destined to achieve through their hard work and fortitude. This is the sign of a born leader who is modest and calm and destined to achieve great things. And guess what sign Obama was born under! I think our Pres to the south sings a tune that matches his Chinese Horoscope -don't you?

I was born in the year of the horse. Horses are supposed to be lovable, witty, free-spirit, enthusiastic, independent, creative, optimistic. I am sure my Mom would agree with that!

If you want to find out more about your chinese horoscope go here:

I did my walk into work in record time this morning. I became intimately acquainted with the feeling of "biting cold" as my nose and cheeks were tingling and bright red when I got to work. I had a nice Rudolf look going. Also walking was quite dangerous! The melt of Friday last and the subsequent quick freeze turned all those unshovelled spots into slip slidey hazzards. Given the number of vacant lots and construction sites around me there are a fair number not shovelled. I broke my arm when I fell on the ice last winter and am determined not to do so again! So careful fast walking was the watch word!

For those of you counting I am 70 words over my limit. Darn... Well, I have lots of days coming to practice being breviloquent.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Night - rolls around rather quickly!

Ok, so it is Sunday evening and the last thing I will do today is to write this blog. Got lots done over the weekend and yet, still felt at the end of it that I had taken it easy. A nice feeling.

Sunday has a distinctive feel to it, for those of us who work outside the home or go to school, don't you think? As Sunday afternoon winds around the corner of dinner hour and evening approaches one starts thinking about the work (or school) week in front of us. For some who hate their jobs, this is, I am sure, a time when the mood drops like a lead balloon. For the rest of us who like, or at least don't mind their jobs, it can be a time of "getting ready". This is never more illustrated than in the mood that prevails on the night before the first day of each school year. I can remember clearly, clothes at the ready, lunches planned out if not packed, optimistic thoughts or at least encouraging thoughts about what one might encounter in the year to come. And such as it is tonight. A habit I formed long ago. Set yourself up for the week to come and Monday morning is a lot easier.

Today is Robbie Burns day. To all Scots this is a day which is celebrated with Haggis and Robbie Burns poetry. I have been bumping into Robbie Burns Day things all day and enjoying it. Whle I write this I am listening to CBC Radio 1, In the Key of Charles program and he is featuring things Scottish. I have heard a few different renderings of the of the classic love poem, A red, red rose. I wasn't aware of this but it is also set to music and is quite lovely.

A Red, Red Rose
(Standard english Translation)
O, my love is like a red, red rose,
That is newly sprung in June.
O, my love is like the melody,
That is sweetly played in tune.
As fair are you, my lovely lass,
So deep in love am I,
And I will love you still, my Dear,
Till all the seas go dry.
Till all the seas go dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun!
O I will love you still, my Dear,
While the sands of life shall run.
And fare you well, my only Love,
And fare you well a while!
And I will come again, my Love,
Although it were ten thousand mile!

Robbie Burns was a lover of women and apparently left quite a few children scattered over the Scottish countryside - (in the care of their mothers, of course!)

So the other bit of news is that I have been looking for tips on blogging and well - I have discovered I have been way over delivering in terms of the number of words! Apparently, readers of blogs can only digest about 200-300 words in one blog and then they lose interest. Those of you who have read the bulk of my blogs so far know that 200 words is a drop in the bucket for me! Even this one, which isn't particularly long IMO, is over 450 words even without counting the poem. So my challenge hence forth is to deliver a blog in less than 300 words which provides one topic of interest (the other tip I found)... Stay tuned for tomorrow's blog.

For those of you who want to stay in touch with my "essay" style blogs I will be continuing those but in another forum. Will let you know when I find a publishing forum for those items

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Try as I might to multitask, sometimes that is not possible. Often as I write my blog I either listen to radio or TV as a backdrop to my work. When I started my blog today I put on Radio 2 and there was an audio documentary airing about Frank Zappa. I ended up putting my blog aside as it captured all of my attention in this last hour.

The documentary was titled "Music of Frank Zappa". I copied the following from the CBC web site promo for your benefit: "The genre didn't matter-rhythm and blues, do-wop, jazz, classical- Frank Zappa embraced them all and folded them all into his own compositions. Frank Zappa made popular music that was challenging, and serious music that was listenable; to him there was only one type of music, good music; there was only one audience, all of us; and there was only one time, the present. "

It is mostly comprised of close friends, family and musical collaborators in conversation with the host. They recounted how he worked, interesting things about the music and personal details about the man himself. They also played a selection of his music either in whole or pieces to illustrate a discussion point that was being raised. His music is music you can't be doing anything else while it is playing - unlike other music which can be a nice backdrop. I had no idea he was such a well regarded composer of music. From listening to his songs one realizes that he was very inventive, but there are many other noteworthy qualities associated with his compositional genius. They talked about definitive "Zappa cords" and also some of the other compositions which were not recorded by him but were the result of his creative musical genius.

This is the second of a 3 part series. I think I will try and catch the other 2.
You can hear all of the Zappa documentary on the Inside The Music audio archives page at:

It's Saturday and I am so glad for the weekend! It was an adjustment getting back to work, but I will admit that I like the routine of somewhere to go each day and the challenge to my brain as I try to ensure that my client sees value in what they pay me. As a contract worker I am in a situation which holds a whole lot of uncertainty as a contract reaches an end or (in the case right now with my RBC client) if there are indications that they may not need my services too much longer. People hire me to manage IT Projects and that means a finite life for the job - each project has an end date. At that point I go hunting for something new. Usually not a big deal - my job is in demand. I have been fortunate to get quite a few longer term contracts, but that of course is the luck of the draw.

In the current environment it might not be as easy to find another job. The big project I had been managing for RBC over the last year and a half finished in November. They really want to keep me around and so they have found me something small to keep me busy and they are looking internally to find a bigger project so that they could have me fully utilized. Given the economic climate of frugal spending IT projects are being cancelled everywhere, including RBC. So it may be that in a week or two they will give me the news that they have nothing to keep me busy and I will be hitting the pavement with the rest of the unemployed until I find something. I do have a bit of a cushion put aside in case there is a layover between contracts, so it is not as catastrophic as might be for others less careful. Having said that, I would prefer to continue working without interruption as it allows retirement to stay in sight and not recede into the distance as a goal accompanied by a fear that it will not ever be in sight. Lets hope I hear good news from RBC over the next week or two.

I thought it about time I gave everyone an update on the progress of my recovery from my eye surgery. Looking not bad, if I do say so myself! With a bit of makeup you can't tell that my eyelids are still a bit bruised, particularly with my glasses on. You don't really notice that they are swollen. I am happy that they are no longer red rimmed and irritated. I look forward with great anticipation over what they might look like at the 6 week point!

I had promised another instalment of my travelogue from my December Cruise. However that is going to have to wait until tomorrow. I have a long list of "To Do's" for today, the most important of which is catching up with some bookkeeping the tax man requires I do. I have decided that if I can put in a good 4 hours on this I will reward myself with time mapping out some creative projects I have in mind. One is a submission to CBC's "Canada Writes" contest. They are seeking submissions of entries of 200 words in one of 5 categories. The contest closes on Feb 7th, so I need to figure out what categories I will enter (one is blogging and for sure Iwill send a blog entry to them). I will let you know what I can come up with.
So, onward with other stuff - time is marching!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Into the Deep Freezer - Again!

Ok Dudes, we are in for another weather roller coaster. It was a pleasant stroll into the office this morning. Seemed like a spring day when I went out to lunch. Less pleasant as I left the office and walked toward home. Still warm, but the wind had come up and it was clear that the cold was returning and being driven to our town rather quickly on the tail of an Arctic wind. I took the photo to the left on my walk home. I guess they figured that one wouldn't know what to do when cautioned about falling ice.
I suspect tomorrow I am going to want to cocoon inside rather than go out on a long walk.

News item of the day: Watching the Market Watch TV show tonight they were making viewers aware of the rising concerns regarding the potential of cell phone use to increase incidence of brain cancer. Scary! Of particular concern is the use of cell phones by young people. Apparently since the brain is smaller a greater percentage of it is exposed to the electromagnetic energy. There is a study ongoing in Canada which will have results in about 5 years, but a small study conducted n Europe showed a 5% increase in brain cancer users who used a cell phone for more than 10 years. Scary stuff for sure!!!

So now let me tell you about the Toronto One Read Event. As I mentioned last blog there are a number of events celebrating March as Reading Month. As part of Keep Toronto Reading 2008, the Toronto Library choose Consolation by Michael Redhill as the one book all Torontonians should read. The library held a number of events throughout the city about the book’s themes and issues. I read the novel and have to say it was my best read of the year. I look forward to this year's selection.

For those of you who haven't read it, I must first point out that it has a special significance to anyone who has lived in Toronto. Every page refers to a Toronto street, landmark or noteworthy historical event. There are two parallel plots each similar in theme but set more than 100 years apart. I won't go into more, you can go here if you want a to know more about it.

Next item: Going on a cruise is great fun; riding in an OPP cruiser, not so much...

I had to laugh at my brother's comment left on my face book site. IHe had commented that he had never been on a cruise, but he had been in a cruiser and that wasn't very much fun. I laughed!

Well I have been on a few different cruises, but not in the last many years until the one I went on in December. This one was in some ways far better than any I have been on before but somehow also a bit too posh. I still remember my first cruise (I hate to say how many decades ago). It was a Greek ship. Cruising was certainly not then what it is now. It was the disco 70s and I had an Afro perm and you can probably picture the scene. The ship was not the cleanest, and as I recall the cabin steward (an old fat man) asked that I tip him with a bottle of brandy as he would need to share any money I gave him. I had a party in my room and he brought ice and glasses and I gave him another bottle of brandy in thanks. I recall there were only 3 bars/clubs, no theaters or ice rinks. There was a casino and we did bingo there during the daytime. And the bathroom! It was so small you could sit on the john and shower at the same time.

This cruise was quite a contrast. The Royal Caribbean's "Liberty of the Seas" is the biggest cruise ship on the seas in the 2008/2009 sailing season. There is a "Grand Promenade" in the centre of the ship which is sort of like the interior of the Eatons Center - towering about 6 floors with balconies from the rooms on either side looking out at the promenade. We had an outside cabin with a nice balcony to view departures and arrivals or just to gaze out at the expanse of sea. The room was large - there were 3 of us sharing so that was important. Not that we spent much time in the room. I just counted up the number of bars -- I didn't even get to have a drink in every single one -- there were at least 10, if you count the one deck side and the one in the theatre. The formal dining rooms were over 3 levels with a scarlet O'Hara staircase joining them. Near the top of the ship there was a buffet dining room and there were several different eateries off the Promenade. Oh ya, there was a huge casino, a 2 level disco an an ice skating rink. Add to that the climbing wall, the surfing hill, on deck golf and all manner of on board entertainment, you could very well have stayed on ship the whole time and not been bored.

But of course we didn't and that will be the topic of another blog.

So enough for one blog - the hour is late and my bed calls.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy Thursday!

Just a short start on my blog this morning while I coffee is brewing. I got in late last night and once again was not able to do my blog in the evening after work. This week has been a busy one - lots of folks at work to catch up with - lunch and dinners out every day with friends and colleagues. Great way to start back to the "grind".

This picture is my entry to the "so you think you have it bad contest". Not sure how this happened but sure glad this prank wasn't played on me!

So, having just written a paragraph, I must run off. Perhaps I will have a chance to write a bit more during lunch, today is a quiet day with no plans for either lunch or dinner. So stay tuned for the completion of this blog later today.

Ok, so I will admit it... I have this urge just to veg and do nothing more tonight. But I decided that as I sit here by the fire, rum and tonic at the ready, dog at my side, laptop in my lap, tv in front of my face I would open my blog and make an effort at finishing up today's entry. I just got back from getting a load of groceries and after a long day of brain activity at work I would rather sit and veg. However, I am a determined soul and having just been reminded of the promised finish of this entry I am motivated to get it done.

Well, I could write about the weather - did you hear that we have had more snow this year so far than last year at this time - and last year was a record setting year! Or, I could write about how Lake Ontario is starting to freeze up. I was noticing as I got home that the grey/blue shoreline is receeding as it is being consumed by the white snow and ice at a rate of about 8 or 10 feet a day.

But no, I am going to blog on for the next couple of blogs about the Canada Reads event. (OK, a few comments about the weather and or noteworth local events might creep in as well. I discovered Canada Reads last year. March is "Reading Month" and there are lots of events which promote reading in that month. Canada Reads is an annual "battle of the books" competition organized and broadcast by CBC. The books are announced in November and the contest is held during March of each year. During Canada Reads, five personalities champion five different books, each champion extolling the merits of one of the titles. The debate is broadcast over a series of five programs. At the end of each episode, the panelists vote one title "off the island" until only one book remains. This book is then billed as the book that all of Canada should read.

Canada Reads 2009 will be aired from March 2 to March 6, 2009.
For the 2009 competition, the books chosen by the participants were:
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, defended by Avi Lewis
The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay, defended by Anne-Marie Withenshaw
Fruit by Brian Francis, defended by Jen Sookfong Lee
Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards, defended by Sarah Slean
The Outlander by Gil Adamson, defended by Nicholas Campbell

I have started reading The book of Negroes which is by all accounts an exceptional book. Will keep you posted.

Tomorrow I will tell you all about Toronto Reads.

And I promise a Cruise story or two on the weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Does a day missed a habit break?

I have discovered that I do have a few people who read my blog regularly. While I have no official "followers" yet, I have received lovely encouraging notes from friends which tell me that there are folks out there reading this. Sadly, Yesterday's blog did not get written. So, like many who have made New Years resolutions I have had a "setback". As I said in previous blogs, it is how we react to the things that happen that shape their influence on us. I could have shrugged and left this matter to think about the next day after work, given the late hour I got in and the early hour I have to get up and get ready for work - but no. I am committed to this. And if you have a resolution you are committed to be it go to the gym 3x a week, give up smoking, be nicer to your spouse - the sooner you get back on track the better. So here I am 6:00 a.m. and I am determined to write a few lines and get back on my horse.

OK, having said that, I think I have a good excuse for not writing yesterday - went out after work with a friend I haven't seen in a while and by the time the evening was over and I had gotten home and had walked the dog it was after midnight. My brain was in no shape to blog last night that was sure. But I had a great time and renewed my vow before bed to blog in the morning before work.

The morning is clear and it is a wonderful view this morning across the lake to the south. The moon is a small crescent sitting over the Lake and the lights of the City across the lake rim the sky with a faint light as this distant city awakes. I must confirm what city it is - I am thinking it is Rochester, but I may be wrong. I am listening to CBC Radio 1 and the Morning Program which is my morning habit. It never disappoints with both interesting commentary and music and groups I have never heard but enjoy greatly. I am happy to begin another day.

I stole away yesterday to watch the Inauguration and was again impressed and inspired when I listened to Obama speak. One of his first acts was to put the legal proceedings at Guantanamo on hold. He and his wife conducted themselves like a fairy tale Prince and Princess that I am sure was the emotion of the day and night for them. I pray that God will grace them both with the strength and wisdom to continue in the ambitious work and agenda they have set out - despire the setback they will have.

So I have written my "catch up" blog. Need to get ready for work now as it is I will undoubtably be a bit late for work. For those of you who don't know me well my work day routine involves preparing a breakfast and a lunch, walking the dog and a 30 minute walk to work and an arrival at my office at 8:00 - earlier if things are not going well and perhaps a few minutes late if there are no urgent work issues needing my attention.. My walk gives me an opportunity to plan my day and reflect on what I need to get done. The walk home allows me to reflect on my successes and strategize better plans for the disappointments.

These days the walk is brisk, to say the least. I have better get moving. On the way to work I am going to think up a new blog topic for tonight. So say tuned, my resolution to write a blog is not going to be thrown aside!
PS: I think I will steal back to this blog tonight and add a new picture I took this morning of myself. It proves how miraculous the healing of my eyes has been. Although my eyes look a bit swollen you really can't tell I had surgery!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Back at the Coal Mine...

Well, not exactly the coal mine - my job is pretty cool. And I am experienced enough (and old enough) to be confident in what I am doing and not to stress out. I do my best and that is usually good enough. However, no matter how much I like what I do it would still be preferable to not have to work to pay the bills. But that will come in time - it is called retirement. Sadly, given the state of the stock market probably not until after I am 60 though. :(

So, started back today after 5 weeks off. I couldn't believe how 5 weeks could go so fast. But working sure drains the hours from the day and the cycles from the brain. Here it is nearly 8 p.m. and I am just starting my blog. Multitasking as it were - watching House on TV and writing the blog. I don't watch a lot of TV and resent the time spent watching mindless TV... but sometimes mindless TV provides a good background.

Today (for those of you not tuning into tonight's news) is officially the most depressing day of the year. Wow - someone actually tallys these things and makes the official prognastication that there will be not be any more depressing day worse than this one for a whole year. If that is true it is great news! Those of us who make it through the day can happily look to the rest of the year for better spirits than we felt today. Actually one would think their logic is not flawed - a good couple of months of winter left, short and dark days, Christmas bills coming in and New Year's resolutions falling by the way side left, right and centre. But not to dispute with experts, it is my understanding that the spring time is the peak time for suicide attempts - something about the hopeless being despondent because, othey don't start to feel happy when flowers start to bllom. But no matter, it makes interesting news and might perk up a few foks to realize that they are not alone feeling a bit blue.

I went out to my Documentary Film Group last night and we saw a film about the life of Barack Obama - "The Man and His Journey" and a few of his speeches in the DVD "The Power of Change". Wow what Disney movie did they pull this man out of? I knew he was special but did not appreciate what everyone was so excited about.
Aside from the historical significance, as the first black President of the US, which in itself should not be understated, the man is almost unbelievable. His life to date is remarkable in the true sense of the word. I haven't time to go on about the things in his life which has shaped him and makes me believe that he is pretty special but instead will suggest that you rent the movie (surely they must be carrying it at Block Busters) because you will be amazed.

The message he conveys and his goals for his achievement as President of our southerly nation, were delivered in the speeches I have seen with both humility and confidence. His message for a need for reform and improvement indicate that the man has integrity and compassion. The man is truely an inspiring visionary. Adjectives such as authentic, driven, idealistic and tremendously intelligent are not out of line, IMO.

It is also hard to believe that he has found time to write two books - one of them an autobiography he wrote when he was 26! Most politicians write their memoirs after they finish in politics - not Obama. To find out more about the two books he has written go to:

Regardless of what Obama is able to achieve once he is in power, one cannot discount how he is bringing out the best parts of the American people simply by providing them hope and inspiration. If he is half the man he seems to be he is probably better equipped to make a difference and to improve the circumstance of the American people more than any other President in recent history.

This momentus historical event brings us a message that all dreams come true with hard work, dedication (and I would add: righteousness of purpose). He is the man of 2009, no doubt. The world is gripped in Obama-mania and I am right there with everyone else.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Our Neighbours to the South

As I wake up I am watching a lovely serene scene from the window in my friend Barb's guest bedroom. The snow gently falls against a backdrop of trees, branches laden with snow, painting a pretty winter scene nicely framed by the pale yellow window frame set into the backdrop of the olive green wall. It is a picture of tranquility and peace. Many of the trees in view are sadly bent over because of the burden of snow weighing them down.

When we went snow showing yesterday, we saw that a lot of the pines were so weighed down with snow that the top most 6 or 8 feet of the tree was completely lying down, seemingly broken off and held aloft only by the tree top canopy. We guessed that these were casualties of heavy snow combined by the awful windstorm a few weeks ago. I hope that the warmth of spring and the flowing sap to come in a few months might breath new life into these trees. It would be a shame to see so many trees beheaded by mother nature.

Been watching and partaking in the contagious optimism that our southerly neighbours have been frolickng in this historic week. Not going to blog about Obama today, but will note that I feel swept up in the "love in". I am going to see a documentary about his life tonight at my Inpirational Documentary Meet Up group. Should be fodder for a future blog.

Instead I will blog on a bit about Bush, the man we are saying goodbye to. I was somewhat surprised to read one media report yesterday characterizing him as the worst US President in History - a pretty damning criticism.

My initial reaction was surprise. How could he have been that bad? My friend J thought that Tricky Dickie - a liar and a crook in almost everyone's books, should be the one to earn this distinction. But apparently not and I think I found a few reasons why (with just a few moments of thought) for those of you who might be interested.

In no particular order;

-- The US deficit went from 5 trillion to 11 trillion during his tenure
-- Government funding for scientific research was slashed (will add stats here later)
-- He said a lot of really stupid things (a new word "Bushism" has been coined and we chuckled over quite a few examples of these at dinner last night.
-- He didn't find Osama
-- He didn't find weapons of mass distruction, either
-- I think Canada - US relations were not so great. Don't remember too many chummy visits between Bush and our PM (I know this doesn't necessarily make him a bad President, but I think is noteworthy.)
-- more importantly, terrible things happened on his watch:
-> 911
-> US housing market meltdown with Lord knows how many people losing their homes
-> US Govt has to bail out financial institutions and car makers
-> the price of gas hits the roof
-> the US stock market is not considered a good place to be invested.

I am sure one could think of many more reasons but I think you get the drift.

Anyway, I smell coffee brewing out in the kitchen - I guess my hosts are up and at 'em. Time I got moving.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Out in the Country

Trying out my new blogging app on my iPhone. It is a bit limited in functionality (e.g. Only one pic can be uploaded) but it will probably work for small posts and help me keep my resolution of one blog per day. Doesn't let me write sideways with a wide keyboard though, so won't be writing a whole lot this way.

Drove up last night and the roads were great. Arrived just in time for dinner. Spent the evening drinking wine and chatting.

It is wonderful up here. Barb and John are dear high school friends I have kept in touch with over the years - in fact we spent all our high school years as friends. John is a builder and he built the home they live in. It is mostly finished at this point. It is about 20 minutes south west of Collingwood in Grey County, I'm the highlands of the Niagara Escarpment. Set well back from the quiet country road, farms across and beside the 50 acre parcel of land upon it sits.

"Gopher Broke Farm" is what they call the place. It is by far the biggest and best of the houses John has built, I think. Set in amongst the trees, it offers the senses a respite forum the business of life and immerses the soul in peace and tranquility.

There is a beaver pond at the back of the property and Barb and John have cut a trail through the bush to that pond and around the property. Great for walking in summer but even more magical for snow shoeing in winter. I will take some pictures when I am out today and add them to this post when I get back to the City and Internet tomorrow.

Add to the wonderful ambiance of this winter getaway are some great like minded friends, my dear friends, who are like family, and so I have my perfect getaway.

So I am not going to spend more time blogging today.

Will take some pics when I go out snowshoeing today and add them to the blog when I get back to the city and Internet.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday - Work or Play?

Today must be a quick post. While I write my blog I have to decide whether I get ready and go up Dusk Approaches Looking East from My Bedroom Windownorth and visit with friends or get at that bookkeeping I have been ignoring. If I can get into the bookkeeping that would be best - I can go up north tomorrow morning and stay just one night. Either option requires me to get moving and get at it in short order. First will make some breakfast - fried eggs I think. I have a running contest with myself to see how well I can flip eggs without an egg turner. You know, the way chefs do - with a flick of the wrist when holding the frying pan, if you have a stick free frying pan - the eggs will jump up in the frying pan and turn over. Ok, little things occupy little minds. But how many of you guys can flip eggs with a flick of your wrist and no spatula?

Some more pictures and I promise the last of the "bedroom window" series. The pictures don't do it real justice anyway. Just Before Dark looking east from my bedroom windowSuffice to say that my view is a source of inspiration and the view seduces my eyes in its direction a lot. You have seen a pretty representative sample of winter time pictures now. I will wait until the lake turns bright blue in the middle of summer to bring you another set of photos.

Another sunny day but the cold is making everyone a bit weary. I did go out and listen to Greg Wyard. He is pretty good and plays every Thurs night at my local pub, Brazen Head Irish Pub. He also plays every Tue night at Fionn MacCool's Irish Pub. No, he does not play Irish Rover's music but covers of a lot of stuff I like and some of his own as well. He is an incredible guitar player and has a great voice. You can get a feel for his music on You Tube.

If you like his music he does an amazing cover on this You Tube: Amazing Must see! The Who cover "Baba O'Riley" ... There is also a You Tube of his City TV Breakfast Television program promoting his CD.

And the best news is that I don't look too rough any more. See for yourself in this latest Day 8 and stepping out(with a bit of coverup makeup over the last bit of redness and bruising). I am still quite an unfinished product - my eyes are red and swollen (looks like I was out on a bender last night), but at least I don't look like I have been in a bar fight. So I sat on my own and had a beer and tried unsuccessfully to get my iPhone to download internet news pages to read (don't know what was with that - I was able to use other internet accessing applications). I gave up and just sat and listened to the music.

Got home in time to catch the evening news and hear about the massive power outage in the City. Glad it didn't extend all the way down to my place. Given the temps it would be damn cold waking up this morning. They don't expect the power to come back on for the most of the folks until 10 p.m. tonight. Not a fun way to spend 24 hours.

The other item to be seen out of my bedroom window, aside from the awsome view, is my birds eye view of "The Hole".The Hole - looking at my to be built Liberty Towers Condo Actually in about 2 years "The Hole" will be converted to a set of condo apartment towers and I have bought one on the 19th floor of the western most building - facing west. At least they hold my downpayment and I get to pay them the rest of purchase price once they have it finished - probably early 2011. I bought that condo 2 years ago and it was originally supposed to be finished late 2008. HA!! So when I sold my house I bought this condo, "Battery Park", one block north of it, to live in until the other one is ready. I guess I will flip one of the two when the time comes. In the meantime, I get to watch what is happening in "The Hole". Right now they are just starting to pour concrete at the bottom of what will be the lowest parking level. Incidently, you can also see the Toronto Island Airport and the train tracks in this view - my window shows me planes, trains and automobiles!

Anyway, I can now check off "Blog Done" on my Daily To Do List. Next, I need to see if I can get fired up about the book keeping which is calling my name!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Life is a Highway and Navel - less - Gazing

Wow, what a nice sunny day. I don't care how cold it is - give me sun any day and I am happy regardless of the temp. This morning was for me just as lazy as all the others this weekView over Toronto Island, Hanlan's Point, taken from my bedroom window - but I had to get myself out and together to get a mammogram done at noon. I had a nice morning just thinking and lazing and listening to music - K.D. Lang's new Album which I downloaded via iTunes yesterday. The album, Watershed, has has one of the songs which is going to end up on the top 10 of the Obama Playlist, I think. The song is Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

It always amazes me where the time goes. I hadn't even started writing my blog when I had to leave to go for my appointment. Don't know how I am going to find the time to blog once I am back to work but I am determined to do just that! I think I will need to do some shorter things during the week and make up with more expansive content during weekends.

This week I have really been cocooning - quite unlike me. Not really getting much of anything done in stark contrast to my usual busy busy self. I had earmarked today to catch up on some chores but the day is marching on. We will see how much I am able to do once I put the check mark against today's blog entry.

By the way, I decided to spend a paragraph on a brag about my kids - shown here in a pic taken maybe 3 years ago. They are a great bunch and if I have done nothing else with my life but produced this bunch I will have done well!The Moon Children: Ryan, Tegan, Jeff, Laura (aka Lilly) and Eric
From the left: Ryan, Tegan, Jeff, Laura (aka Lilly) and Eric.

I walked home from the lab (according to mapquest 2.6 miles) and picked up some coverup makeup on the way back. I was bundled up warmly and the sun was shiningAll bundled out to go out in this cold winter dayg - a great walk. Decided that I am fit enough (after coverup makeup) to go out tonight and catch Greg Wyard at the Brazen Head Pub. Been stuck alone in this apartment for too long! Tomorrow I go up to Barb and John's in Collingwood and then back home on Sunday. Sunday night it is my first night out with my Documentary Film Meet Up group and then Monday is back to work. Busy days ahead!
Looks like I am ready to rob a bank, eh?

If you are not one for navel gazing you can skip this next part:- instead you can go here:- and see how one woman (a gorgeous model) found a way to prevent herself from navel-gazing.

For the rest:-

I have an observation to make and I wonder if it is true for more folks than just me. Over the years I have found my world expanding exponentially. Every year I enlarge what I might call my "sphere". I experience more, connect with more folks, do more, want more, have more. My "sphere" is larger and larger. The world seems smaller and smaller. I dream bigger and bigger. Is this a function of aView to the south west over the CNE from my bedroom windowage or a side effect of our shrinking globe? Or is it because of the life I live here in the hustle bustle of a huge busy city working with a diverse community of folks who use their brains to make a living? Ok, so the first 3 items might have to do with the shrinking globe, but what about the last two? Do I want more because I see and experience more? Do I have more because I want more? (shades of "The Secret"!).

Social networking will greatly accelerate our ability to expand and connect immensely. My blogging connects me (albeit this is a one way connection) with so many of my friends and family in a way that is not possible without the Internet.

Social Networking world map
Social networking is a global pastime which has the capability to put us all into that "great collective" (for the Trekkie's I am thinking of something nicer than a Borg like state of joinedness.) For more on this go to the site where I stole the above map from:

That brings me to explaining the title of this blog: "Halfway Along Life's Highway". I am sure everyone gets the life's highway part. Life is a journey we are on. Where our life takes us depends on our choices - which cutoffs and meandering trails we take instead of staying on the highway - how many pit stops we make, scenic tours we make... I could go on and on. Tom Cochrane wrote a song about it "Life is a Highway"

This song always makes me jump up and dance. I love it! (I can hear my kids muttering in the background"Mom - Don't Dance!")

So I am half way along this highway. My expectation of longevity has changed as the years have marched on, just as it did for my Dad. I can clearly remember him saying when he was (I am guessing here) about Mary and Don Hilliard, my folks30. He said that he didn't want/expect to live past 50. His mother died of cancer when she was 64. My Dad's Dad died not long after I was born. The man my Dad's mother remarried (the one I remember as "Grandpa Norm"), did not live too many years longer. Their lives were tough. They didn't have much and they spend the time they had on earth just getting by. After retirement they really just sat at home. When my Dad neared 50, I noticed that he was talking more like he would live for quite a while longer. He retired at 55 but has always kept very physically active (thanks to my Mom who hates to see him just sit around :-p ). He is now nearly 80 and in good health. He still likes and can hold his own in a good debate. My Mom is 74. I am not sure but I think her Mom wasn't much older than that when she died. She has always been quick witted , spunky and funny, although I notice she is slowing down lately. I can see them both living another 10 or even 20 years. Based on this, I fully expect that I have a good chance of seeing 100 or even 110. So I am only half way down my highway.

I had better have an ever expanding "sphere", if I have 50 or more years to live. I think part of the winning ticket is never to be bored, never give up learning and growing, wanting and doing more. Always planning new things to experience and ways to learn and grow. As far as wanting more leading to having more - well wanting is only the first part. As I said yesterday, the having more depends on how much you are willing to work for it. Enough said.
To end with a thought that will make you gaze at your ring fingers:
I found this in Digg today:
Ring finger length linked to stockbroker success — Study found that the most successful stockbrokers had long ring fingers in relation to their index fingers. The trait - which is associated with higher exposure to testosterone in the womb - is thought to be linked to attributes such as confidence, risk-taking ability, extra vigilance and quick reactions.

So who in the crowd have longer ring fingers? Can you guess how my measurements fared?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Feel Good Video

Bet no matter how down you might be you can't listen to this You Tube Video without ending up toe tapping, smiling and swaying. Saw it on another blog site I am following - "Art Spark Theater: ( and thought I would share.

The Be Good Tanyas - The Littlest Birds

Wednesday Morning - Cold and Crisp and Fresh

I am late today with my blog, been out having my eye progress assessed by the Doc. He is happy, says I heal fast - bruises will be all gone in 4 or 5 days and swelling not very noticable. OK, so a pic for those of you who are wondering how bad it is. If you are just joining my blog, it was much, much worse even 3 or 4 days ago. My cheeks and jaw are still a little bit swollen, but I am well on my way to recovery. Doctor also said I could lose as many pillows as I like! Hurrah! I get to sleep lying down tonight. But still on my back. :( I have to wait until the 2 week mark to sleep on my side.

The bit of trivia for this morning is the new word "bromance". I like to keep up on pop culture and this term has now been coined to describe the friendship we see among 20 something guys whose motto is "Bros before Hos"... (I don't think they actually mean Hos but are making a statement about women in general and were looking for a rhyming word with Bro.) Apparently guys now have a whole new phase inserted into their growing up years. After being an adolescent then a teenager they do not now move directly into adulthood. No, after they finish school they move back home (or stay there if they never left) and enter into "guyland". Guyland is a decade which comes in the 20s and as todays socialogists are noting, rather than doing the 5 items that mark adulthood (moving from home, getting a job, getting married ,and starting a family - hmm, I forget the last one) they have a decade of guy frathood where guy things and guy friends rein supreme. Apparently there is no limit on how long "guyland" can last.
I am sure this information is casting great fear into parents who are hoping their man sons will please move out and become an adult. Come to think of it I know one guy who has managed to stay in guyland into his 50s. He has managed to convince quite a number of "women of the season, year or decade" to accept his peter pan needs and let him pretend to be in guyland. Apparently it depends on the women they meet and finding one that manages to tame the stallion instinct. Today's information was garnered from today's broadcast CBC Q program. They interviewed Guyland author Michael Kimmel.
So what is "bromance"? While us ladies find close friendships between women of the same sex neither remarkable nor threatening to our sexuality apparently not the same can be said for men. Now that there is a decade of "hanging with the homies", we now need a label for the best buddies who are inseparable in guyland. In order to ensure that the straight buddies who hang together are not confused as part of a the gay couple they need a word to describe the friendship. The urban dictionary defines Bromance as "the inseparable relationship between two or more heterosexual, often action-sports-participating, males. similar to the "hetero-life-mate", but based more on surf/skate/snow participation, party attendance and constant exchange of myspace comments and instant messages. ... "after a full night of sessioning street rails and drinking, dave and brian's bro-mance appears to be in full bloom."
To change the topic, it seems we are being plunged into a January deep freeze. There were neat smoke plummes rising up from the buildings to the east and the lake on the east. A photo I took today at around 7:30 this morning: The sun was just coming up but the sky was clear. It is noon now and it has changed, some snow flurries which turns my view into a uniform grey canvas, ready for the next portrait depending on the weather yet to come. The weather forecast said -30 with the windchill, but just now the weather guy admitted that there was no wind. So I guess it is more like -13 which is the predicted high of the day. If there is no wind and you dress for the temp I'd say a it's a good day for a walk.
What else is on tap for today? I think it is chore day. I have some book keeping to do and a cleanup in the kitchen is in order. Will try and get back at that other extra blog I promised yesterday and started but did not finish. Maybe today it will appear.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snow falls against my bedroom window

Place: my bedroom - my windows on the world.

Time: apres 1st coffee, which is not early morning, because I am stuck at home recovering from surgery and I am staging a "bed in" this week. For this week, I have decided that there are only 2 reasons to get out of bed before 10 a.m. , to get coffee and to take the dog for a walk (avec sunglasses). After 10 my stomach will give me a 3rd reason, food.

Mood: upbeat Listening to CBC Radio 1: Q - A.C. Newman playing in the background"Like a Hitman/Like a Dancer" - catchy tune! (will check the exact name tomorrow when the Q playlist is published)

Anyway, I was listening to CBC radio 2 (which by the way has really done a turn about from what it was just last year!) Changed to Radio 1 as I was getting irritated - just wish my reception was better, some other station keeps intruding in the background. I am looking out my windows to the world - this is the most awsome bedroom ever with a wall of windows looking south over the lake and to the east, CN Tower and the downtown office buildings. I open both of my "pinhole blinds" [pinhole blinds: my term - they are roller blinds which allow some but not all of the sunlight to come through - just enough to filter the sun to a moderate light in day and to dull somewhat the night time city lights] Just got out of bed and took a couple of pics to show you what I see today. The first pic is my view east, which is less than spectacular given that it is snowing. The second is the view south from where I sit now. Again, not so spectacular just right now. But it is not without attraction even today. It is alway in the foreground a sea of motion and sound day or night. There are at least 10 cars constantly in view moving along the Gardiner Expressway - even at 4 am in the morning! and they move quickly - it takes a car about 7 seconds to move from one end of my window to the other. It is the opposite of a serene country postcard scene it is all energy and action - really alive and bustling. The upper part of the view to the south, which does not show up well today is Lake Ontario. On a good day I can see across to Rochester, NY. The sun plays on the lake and it changes colour and reflection as the wind plays on its surface and clouds move overhead. Today it is a grey stormy sea. Always an interesting view to gaze out upon.
But enough of this chatter, first and foremost I must give an update on my eyes.

I am tired of sleeping sitting up. One of the required accommodations for a faster recovery is to not have a lot of extra fluid collect in the eyes, which when we sleep lying down is the case - ever wondered why your eyes are puffy in the morning? So the Doc says sleep with 4 pillows, which pretty much means I am sitting up. Ok, I have discovered that when tired I can sleep in any position, so except for the first night I have managed to stay unconsious for as much of the night as I usually do - which is almost always the full night. This is a good thing - I am suspecting that many do not have this sleeping skill as perfected as I do. So technically, I have had no problem sleeping. However, upon awakening I find that I am pretty sore from being in this position all night. I am thinking tonight I will remove 1 pillow and do this in each of the nights to come. Enough is enough - the pillows got to go.

Tomorrow I go see Doc again. Just another peek at the incision lines and a review of what I should/should not be doing. I have it down pat: nothing aerobic, no bending down, eye drops (I have used almost a full bottle already), vaselined greasy eyes (so the skin doesn't dry out), hot compresses to speed up the healing of bruises and lots of sleep. I have to "ha" about the sleep - maybe the Doc should try sleeping with 4 pillows. I have also come to know first hand that Vaseline is not a flattering facial makeup. Speaking of makeup - allowed after Day 7! Bring out that camoflage makeup - I think I shall go out to Brazen (my local pub) to hear some live music on Thurs night!)

Don't think there has been sufficient improvement in the eyes to load up another pic here - so those sitting on the edge of their seats will need to come back tomorrow.

A plug for the program Q on CBC Radio 1 - lots of interesting topics - from yesterday 's program promo: "Guest host Jonathan Torrens talks to graphic artist and writer Laurie Rosenwald on why all the wrong people have self-esteem". This might be going a bit far, I don't agree that ALL the wrong people, but maybe a good number of them need to spend some time thinking about whether they maybe should have a bit less self esteem. If you have listened to the podcast (or actual program) this is about a book (you can guess the title) - a funny book - tongue in cheek or maybe tongue sticking out of mouth or so it seems.
The author says self esteem is a myth - that it is the norm that people don't feel so good about themselves - or at least few think they are so good as to not needing improvement (those are the ones that the book title makes fun of). Actually, to change the slant that the headline for this would suggest, this book is a good one for people with lower self esteem - the author suggests that it is not such a good thing to aspire to have great self esteem. I think I will see if it is at the library. If you are interested you can replay the Q podcast of Jan 12th from the CBC Q website. And I am not saying whether I think I have great self esteem or not - I will just say that I believe humility is a virtue. If I find the book will provide a short review in a future blog.
Today's Q program gem questions whether we should have the right to call someone a Skank and a horse faced Hoe (or is it Ho?) in our blogs - apparently Google is being sued because there is a blogger who called a female celebrity that exact thing. Apparently, it depends on whether it is factually true. Not sure how one would prove that but I expect it would involve courts and expert testimony.

Douchebag is also a similar word which is allowed if true. This prompted me to sidetrack. What exactly is a douchebag (slang, not real english def? I realize that it is a derrogatory term, but who could you legitimately classify as one? So after a sidetrip to Wiki, I fetched the following definition: An individual who has an over-inflated sense of self worth, compounded by a low level of intelligence, behaving ridiculously in front of colleagues with no sense of how moronic he appears. Ok, so we all are a bit more knowledgable with our english language slang. And I can think of a few folks I think could be proven in a court of law to legitimately warrant the adjective douchebag. Sounds like douchebags are in the same group as Laurie's "wrong people to have self esteem".

Thanks to today's Q, I also found out that if you "upskirt" or "downblouse" (take a photo of a woman up her skirt or down ... in public) and then publish this on the web it is not against the law in the US. Wow - what a world we live in, eh? Apparently it has to do with us now all being potential celebrities (thanks to reality tv) and our paparazzi are worthy of protection. And paparazzi are allowed to downblouse or upskirt celebrities if the celebrities are not protective against their personal space when in public. (I guess if a photog were to hide under a sewer grate and snap photos of Brittany one would find that to be curious but not think it illegal). And for those of you who need to know, if you see a photo of your nether regions on the web (and can recognize them) you can claim to have been "upskirted", but cannot sue - at least in the US, not sure about in Canada. That is unless it was taken from a peep hole in the ladies room - which is of course illegal.

So just got the weather word - I can see snow melt drops stuck against my window, so judging that it is not too cold out there - snow has now stopped, however we are in for a plunge in temperatures and by tomorrow morning it is expected to be -20 celcius. What can I say - the roller coaster weather continues. Get out your balaclava folks.

Today seems to be a trivia day (but I hope to do a double header today and try my hand at entertaining everyone with Cruise Time Tales, watch for a second post later today)... so following is my last tid bit for today:

"Unfortunately, what triggers an avalanche is often consumed by it". Saw this in a headline ad this morning. This can be applied to a lot of problems (an avalanche is one big problem for the folks in the path of the snow, you must agree). So a serious and sobering thought - we are often the makers of our own misery. I can personally vouch for that having made myself lots of trouble to get out of in the time I have been on this planet. You can apply this to almost everything - we reap what we sow, etc etc.. But I draw the line on one thing - I do not agree with the extreme views on this grain of an idea being promoted as "The Secret". It seems to me that if we could truly make things happen simply by thinking our way there, the promoters would not need to promote these ideas, they could simply wish us all into submission.
I have to admit that I come from the school of hard work. In other words I believe you can be successful at anything you set you mind to, except we might not set our mind to so much it if we realized how much hard work is required to get there. We often give up on what we want to accomplish because it is too much work.

This leads me to the dwell briefly on premise behind the new TV series "Being Erica" - that is choices lead to consequences. She is luckily allowed to go back and remake some of the decisions she made when she was young and foolish - and I am guessing will find her life improving as she undoes those bad choices of the past. Too bad we all can't do that, eh? Best we can do is learn from our bad choices and learn to deal with the aftermath. Hopefully, not as deadly as an actual avalanche. And that is my word of wisdom for the day - actually, I think I should restrict myself to only 1 "word of wisdom" per week or else you might think I have more self esteem than I should. So I promise more sillier posts in the days to come. This is supposed to be fun reading, not "Mother Knows Best".
Tada for now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Jeepers, creepers....where'd ya get them peepers

Jeepers, creepers... where'd ya get them eyes... or so the song goes.
So the Peepers are not that nice looking just yet. I will admit that.

And in answer the lyrical question, I bought them, as mentioned in my last post - should have used that as the title of my last post, but I just thought about that song and it appealed... and I am just now looking at my new eyes and get a good feel for what they will look like when healed. Awesome, I think. Well to be truthful they will still look like my eyes, just a lot less saggy. Those of you who are my new friends may not notice much at all after everything is healed up. But I will.

I think they will be a nice improvement. My friend, T.S.  sent me an email last night. I have been in almost daily contact with him over the last week, sending emails and pics (- thanks for the support T.S.). I do believe he is utterly flabbergasted at how awful I have been looking. He asked me if "knowing what I know now would I do this again?" My daughter Lilly said she felt like crying when she looked at me because it seems like I had the crap beat out of me. OK, so I am not so viewable just yet and my opinion must wait until factual evidence is available.
But what a question to be asked at this point! Shows his as yet unspoken judgement about my decision to do this. Kudos to you T. for leaving these thoughts unspoken. At this point the answer is easy - I am only "half baked" and any such conclusion can only be reached once I see the finished product and live with it for a while. I need to write him back this morning and tell him exactly that. While I am at it I will also tease him about what I can only assume to be a Saturday night date. Guess he is playing his cards close to his chest. We only agreed just a week or two ago that we were no longer "BF and GF". Noticed yesterday he was back advertising on LavaLife. (Yet another subject for a blog! - god, I will be blogging day and night to catch up with all the stuff I need to write). I decided to sit out of LavaLife for a bit yet... but I did update my "away" message so T.S. would know I had been on and therefore had seen that he was no longer "taking a break" . Might go back there in a week and see if any "bingo letters" have dropped into my hopper. T.S. tells me he gets so many "hello's" he can't keep up with them. But then that is another subject. Nothing against T.S. (actually he is quite hot) but there are far fewer men on these sites than women.

In 6 weeks I will be able to provide via this blog a preliminary answer to T.S.'s question - may even post a poll for you to tell me what you think. Just to give everyone a hint though, I am not having any second thoughts. Still quite happy with my choice despite a week of less than happy living. But the proof is in the final product. The doctor said after 2 weeks most of the bruising and swelling will be gone although will take 6 weeks to heal 90%. The real answer is to be had after one full year; it takes that long to reach the 100% mark. And of course other folks reactions to my new eyes will play a part - however my satisfaction will be the only thing that matters to me.

Looking on the bright side of my current circumstance (if you don't know me yet you will soon discover I like to look on the bright side), I have been able to listen to just about every song nominated for Obama's Play List on CBC - which has been some really fine listening to Canadian songs. For those of you who do not listen to CBC, they have a contest going at the moment. They are asking for email/phone in nominations for a play list of 49 Canadian songs to send to Obama on the occassion of his inauguration. Some damn good songs we Canadians have produced! This week we get to vote for the short listed songs. Listening to radio is about the only thing that I can do which doesn't tire my eyes and make them sore.
I did spend too much time on computer yesterday. I am jumping full into my New Years resolutions (see the list provided on the sidebar which cozies up nicely with my "bucket list" aka "43 Things" which is accessed via the link on the sidebar tool "Linkworthy"). Every day I will look over these lists and see what I can do tomorrow to futher what I want to accomplish. To this end, I perused the "Meet Up" sites and joined a few -skating, documentary movies, spanish music/dancing, book club and 35+ social. I looked up the Tai Chi nights for beginners and decided I should see if I can join up with a beginners class in progress on Thurs nights as a way of getting back into it. Once back "out there", in a few weeks, I will be joining in on a number of interesting activities with new friends. Also browsed around the "43 Things" site and added a couple of items to my life list. Last night's Golden Globe awards provided me with renewed interest in getting out to see some of the films which garnered the most kudos. In all more than my eyes could take at this point. They were sore by day's end. But I was happy with my day.

So what of today? I have to be careful not to over use my eyes. Found out yesterday how much they hurt after prolonged keyboarding. I also have to decide when I will be able to go up to Collingwood to visit my dear friends up there. I promised to go up and spend a few days during my time off. I am not supposed to drive until day 7 - hard to drive with tearly, blurry eyes that hurt. Since I have to see the Doc on Wed and go get my mammogram on Thurs, I might leave it now until after so as I can spend the weekend up there.
Also on tap for today is a long walk with my dog Bella, shown on the left. Bella is a great walker. Boy, sitting around is not helpful for my weight loss effort. I can't believe how last month's holiday (I went on a cruise just before Christmas - Ye Gads! - the subject of another post to come!) and the holiday season moved me back up the unhappy side of the scale. I am not allowed any aerobic exercise for 3 weeks, but walking is fine. So I need to walk.

And it is MONDAY! One week before I go back to work after my 5 week haitus. :( Getting kind of used to not having to work for a living. *sigh* Too bad I don't have a wealthy "benefactor".

Another beautiful sunny day. Cold, -4 or -10 with the wind chill but I will take that with sun over +2 and cloudy any day. Good day for a walk. Gonna see if I can do at least 5 K. Might be hard with Bella. She won't wear those doggie booties and she gets salt in her paws. I end up carrying her when that happens and with my eyes I am not supposed to bend down as yet. Hard not to bend down when you have to pick up your dog. Makes the blood flow to my head and that causes bleeding. I found that out first hand yesterday when I forgot and bent over to tie up my boot. Anyway, I digress. Got to get moving the day is moving on.

One closing item. Today's picture is one view from my bedroom here in my Liberty Village Condo. It is on the 21st floor looking south over the lake and east to the CN Tower. Wonderful views. Will show more pics of them in blogs to come.
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