Sunday, August 23, 2009

Canadian National Exibition Time

Dawn now comes at about 7:30... whats with that!

Yesterday I blogged about the end of summer and what it always means for me - in my other blog. I guess one of the things which is triggering those thoughts - aside from the earlier nightfall, cooler nights and all the "back to school" sales being advertised in the stores, is the Toronto CNE, which started on Friday. We, in Toronto, fondly call it "The Ex". It is not what it was in my youth - there is Canada's Paramount a short drive away which offers all the thrills you could want in a midway measured in square Kilometers, far surpassing the Ex in size, number and quality of rides. However, it is a Toronto tradition at the end of the summer - as is the fall fairs which will now commence and every small town in Ontario has one.

The Ex is nearly a week late starting because of the way the calendar falls, Labour Day, traditionally the closing day of the CNE is on Sept 7th, the latest day it could possibly be, given that it is the first Monday in September.

Actually, I have not been to the EX - and through all the exhibit buildings (yes, it is about more than just the midway!) in so many years. I might just pop over one evening - I note that there is a reduced rate for attendance after 5 p.m.

There are a few real treats which the Ex offers. Firstly, my personal treat, which is fireworks every night which I can watch from my balcony. Not quite as exquisite as the Nights of Fire - but fireworks none the less and I take joy in them every night as they mark day's end.

The other treat is the Air Show, which is on the last 3 days of the EX and which requires lots of practice in the days ahead as the

various aircraft work on their stunts and aerial manovers in preparation for the event. Yesterday I was treated to the bi-planes doing some sync flying practice, which I managed to catch on camera, as well as a military aircraft doing circuits, which I did not manage to shoot (pun intended!).

In the days ahead there will be lots of planes buzzing overhead and it gets me to thinking about sharing my VIP seats for the airshow with friends and I am preparing my invite list for one or two Air Show afternoon "drop in" parties.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thoughts swimming in my brain

Funny thing happens to me every year as August draws to a close. I start thinking about how things will change as summer ends and we get back to the serious business of living. When my children were living at home it also marked a very busy time as we got school and fall clubs, classes and lessons organized. Now the habit of thinking of the end of summer sort of like a bookend has become ingrained and the start of September, in my mind is a "New Year" of sorts - time to reflect, reorganize and make resolutions. I have noticed this week that this mood has crept up upon me and I am like a bear preparing for winter, getting my fall organized and at the same time thinking about the changes that are inevitable.

My focus this fall will be "mind and body". I am looking over the evening class brochure that arrived this week and thinking about some Spanish classes - in preparation for the real deal I hope to organize for next year. Plans for a travel/language immersion situation in Cuba are calling me loudly. This might help to temper my appetite and at the same time provide a bit of mental exercise as learning is good for the brain.

As for the body, I really have to take hold of myself and do more exercise and certainly Tai Chi did the trick a couple of years ago when I was fully committed to it. It serves both body and mind as it is a sort of moving meditation. For sure this fall I will get back to that. If I can start hitting my gym a couple of times a week as well that would be good too.

Of course this fall I am going to be very occupied with my novel planning and then in November the NaNoWriMo project will kick into high gear and I expect everything will be thrown aside for that. Which reminds me, I am off to a NaNoWriMo social event tonight. It will be fun to meet a dozen or so other silly people who are committed (or is that should be committed?) to write a novel in the month of November.

I have been hearing the Great Lakes Swimmers getting a lot of air play on my beloved CBC Radio 2 music programs, in particular the song following. The band has a very ethereal sound - wispy and easy and it just makes me want to whirl around and dance slowly with my arms spread. The lyrics from their songs are poetic and srtike a chord with me. In short - I like them a lot.

As you read the lyrics for this song you will agree that they are really poetic and have several layers of meaning. On one level the song is a soothing call to a tree's leaves as they are getting ready for fall (and to fall). On another level it is a summer lover who you know will be gone as the weather turns cold and a lament to an inevitable change in circumstance. I find this song and its lyrics to be quite beautiful, even if also sad.

Great Lake Swimmers
Changing Colours
You look at me with uncertainty,
You look at me with urgency.
You look at me with fear in your eyes
like you're about to fall away.

But don't be afraid to change your colours now.
I've known you all Summer, and you rose above it all.
I see you hesitate to fall now,
But it's a pretty good view from down here, too.

And when the wind takes you, it takes me, too.
When you change colours, I change mine, too.
Try not to think, and I will try to.
When you let go, I will let go, too.

I knew you when you were green and strong.
You were like a feather on a wing, so long.
You know I will miss you when you are gone,
but don't be afraid if you just can't hang on.

'Cause when the wind takes you, it takes me, too.
When you change colours, I change mine, too.
Try not to think and I will try, too.
And when you let go, I will let go, too.

The cold air is pushing hard on you.
I know what you're saying; I can feel it, too.
You'll go through changes, and I'll go through them too.
Don't be afraid now, don't be afraid.

'Cause when the wind takes you, it takes me, too.
When you change colours, I change mine, too.
Try not to think and I will try, too.
And when you let go, I will let go, too

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Day at Toronto Island

Yesterday was my birthday. And as birthdays go, it was pretty good. A day to myself and a wonderful dinner with my Son Jeff and his G/F Amanda (More about that in the next blog).

As you start having more birthday's behind you than you can expect ahead of you I guess it stands to reason that you get a bit laid back about them. A couple of things I have come to terms with.

Firstly, I have learned not to expect anything from anybody at this time. As the years march on, well, I have come to understand that what I really value in family and friends is that they are always if I should be in need - and they all seem to be that and more. Don't get me wrong - I am very happy and pleased when I see all those "Happy B-Day Wishes" on my Facebook and when some, if not all of my children remember to call and wish me well, but I just don't get bent out of shape if my birthday is a bit quiet and unremarked.

Secondly, I have learned to make my birthday special for myself and by myself. In these last 3-4 years of "singleness", I have learned to be very self sufficient and to build a birthday that marks the occasion in a way that I find special and to me that is probably more important to me that someone else making it special. I treat myself to something special and I try and do something I would not ordinarily do. While there is no doubt that if "Mr Special" was firmly ensconced in my world, it would be much nicer to do that something special with him, however, that doesn't mean I can't really enjoy my B-Day on my own steam.

I took the day yesterday and went to the Beach at Hanlan's Point on the Toronto Island. I look at that beach every day from my balcony. The day was so very hot and hazy - perfect beach weather! The picture above is the beach as I see it from my balcony. The picture below is the beach as seen from where I sat sunning myself.

From where I sit on my balcony I can see the beach so clearly, but looking back at my condo from the beach? Not so! My condo is so tiny I can hardly make it out! If you click on the picture to get a better look, you can just make out my condo behind the red structure which is the BMO Soccer Field.

I took the ferry boat over and back and it does give a great view of the downtown - from the south rather than from my usual vantage point to the west.

Unfortunately, I got a nasty sunburn - but not as bad as some of the nude sunbathers at the beach I am sure. It is a clothing optional beach. :)

I couldn't resist posting the pic I took of the gorgeous flower by the ferry dock.

Next blog is going to be for the foodies! Some great food was had on Saturday night!

Birthday Dinner at Mildred's Temple Kitchen

A new restaurant opened this winter in Liberty Village - Mildred's Temple Kitchen. It really isn't new - just relocated. Mildred Pierce was the name of the original restaurant (named after the 1945 film classic) and it was just a little bit further north of Liberty Village and had been a well regarded area restaurant for over 17 years. The new restaurant is quite the place and the food is very distinctive and quite delicious!

I was treated to a B-Day dinner here and that was just fabulous since I hadn't tried it out as yet. The decor is smashing - bright and airy and simple yet elegant. The menu has some unique items as you can see following.

I guess my favourite thing had to be the Dungeness crab salad heirloom radishes & Dijon ice cream. Yes, Dijon ice cream! We were instructed to squeeze the lemon over the salad and mix it all up and the ice cream turned into a nice cold chunky quasi dressing for the crab meat and salad greens. It was delicious!

For dinner I had Pork and Beans! No, not your usual. This was one heck of a NY Steak sized pork chop lying in a small bed of mashed topped with green and yellow beans and deep fried pig's ears as the garnish! Very good and I have half the pork chop waiting to take in my lunch tomorrow!

Jeff had the "Classic Mildred Burger" which was for sure a classic. A huge hand formed burger which apparently was fantastic. Amanda had the pickerel and it was served on polenta. Everyone enjoyed their meal!

Amanda's dessert was quite incredible. Tapioca pudding with a hot chili sorbet and garnished with poppers (the candy!)... She said it was quite good!

Next time this is the dessert I will have!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bad Weather or Inappropriate Clothing?

We have been having thunderstorms in the last handful of days, of the sort that reminds me of Florida in the summertime. Intense heat and humidity and then late in the day as the heat builds the rain lets go. I really don't mind this weather - I love the heat and the rain always cools things a bit. So bad weather is all a matter of perspective. You just need to have an umbrella handy!

I feel like I have been climbing a mountain all this summer. I hate to sound like a broken record - it seems like the only thing I say these days is "Gosh, I am busy!", but I have been so consumed by stuff to do, well it hasn't seemed to be summer. But then we were not having hot weather so it was not too bad. That changed on Friday when summer July like temps and humidity arrived. I am really yearning to be less busy and up north at my Georgian Bay Shangra-La... *sigh*

However, if I have been climbing a mountain in this last while, I feel like I am reaching the summit at long last. My project at work is finally, I think, starting to look like the downhill side of things and I have my summer home improvement project (my guest suite/office) completed and "the wedding" is done and finished. Oh ya, I have been so busy with everything I have not even had time to blog about the last two items. They made my Facebook account and that is all - so I should first cover those two items as a priority. Hopefully in the next few weeks I should be able to get back to blogging with some regularity - still probably only 2 or 3 posts a week - but just as importantly get out to visit a few of the bloggists I have enjoyed reading and commenting on in the past months. My apologies friends if I seem not there - I have not been there!

My New Office/Guest Room

So for the "feathering of my nest" - the first weekend of August, I spend doing a major number on my 2nd bedroom. It had been officially 6 months since my daughter Laura moved out and as the statute of limitations had been reached, I declared her "launched" and set about converting her room. It was a whirlwind project as I have no time to spare. It went like this:

->Saturday I painted the room, (ok, there was more than just that - I couldn't find my paint tray so went to a friends to borrow and got a flat tire on the way and had to detour to get my tire repaired,
- Sunday morning I touched up paint, then went to Ikea and bought 7 boxes containing: Sofa Bed, cover, mattress and cushions, desk, office chair and supplies/filing cabinet and have it delivered Sunday night (yes they do!)
->On the way back from Ikea I rented a carpet cleaner to clean both bedroom carpets while waiting for the furniture to arrive
-> Monday I assembled the furniture. Actually this spanned the next couple of nights after work as well.

So this:

Turned into this:

The Wedding

WARNING: The following is a "bragging book"... (So, let me be a Mom for half a blog, OK?)

My son Eric was the first to occupy the guest bed/sofa bed on Thursday night and he proclaimed it extremely comfortable!

So that is the lead in to the other big thing going on in my life over the last week. My son Eric was up visiting from Phoenix where he lives. My X, the father of all my children, remarried on Saturday and my 2 daughters and 3 sons were all in the wedding party!

I had some really good bonding opportunities with my daughters as we took Friday to primp with mani/pedi's and Saturday with hair do's and primping. It may seem a bit odd to some folks reading this but I was invited to the wedding and partied along with everyone, particularly my children. It was great to see my grown children all in their fancy best.

So here they all are with their "significant others". Except Eric - sadly, Kara was not able to make it up from Phoenix.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reading and "New" Author Hans Fallada

I must confess my list of "Wanna Read books" is growing far too large and I have way too many books "in progress". I tend to have several books on the go at the same time and depending on my mood I will pick up one or the other. It hasn't always been this way though. I have always been an avid reader and in my teens and twenties I would always read a book cover to cover before starting the next. In those days almost every book was consumed in 2 or 3 sittings, and I would stay up until the wee hours reading as I found it difficult to put down a good book once I had started. As I recall, in those days, I seemed always to have lots of time for reading. I am not sure how over the years the 24 hours in a day got somehow so much shorter, but it is so. Time flies now but I don't recollect it did then.

I changed my reading habits in my late 20s when I started my family. I had my eldest, Jeff, when I was 29 and so I had lots of time to read and really just enjoy life before any of the children arrived. However, once I had 1, 2, 3 4, then 5 young children there really was no time to read unless it was bedtime stories - or listen to music (other than Raffi and Sharon, Lois and Bram - no time for movies - unless it was a children's movie and no time for me at all. I never had more than a few months mat leave and except for a year or two when the youngest 3 were babies, I worked full time. (OK, I can see some of you playing those little tiny violins! LOL) Maybe that is why I am so enjoying my recent "alone" status, since Laura moved out into her own digs last February. Anyway, I digress.

Caring for such a large family left me with a very big sense of responsibility, which meant that I could not sit and do anything for myself when something had to be done for the kids or the home. I am finding that a habit hard to break. So now, when I could stay up all night and read a book or sit on my nice balcony and so likewise, I find it hard to do. I will read for a while, maybe a half hour or an hour at most, then I have to put it down and do something "productive"... I find it very difficult to get into a more than book 30 minutes at a time.

So - I have decided to give myself a "reading night" once per week at least as an experiment to see what happens and if I can learn to enjoy my new found freedom and give myself permission to enjoy what I like to do - read. I have so many books on my reading shelf, maybe this will help me catch up.

What prompted this soap box soliloquy is that I have discovered a brand new author of some stature today on CBC Radio's Sunday Edition program and I am keen to go out and buy the book! When I looked at the stack of books on my "in progress" pile and the other lot sitting in the "not started" section in the bookcase - I realize that I can't even justify getting the book "so it will be on hand when I get around to reading it". However, I am so excited about it made me think about why I can't do more reading and I also decided it would be a good think to blog about. (OK so lets ignore the fact that I have 20 other projects on the go and am currently working 55 hour weeks as having anything to do with the reading deficit. LOL)

The author is Hans Fallada and his book "Every Man Dies Alone", published originally in 1947 in German, is being published for the first time in English this year. Hans Fallada (that is a pen name - his real name was Friedrich Rudolph Ditzen) was one of Germany's most acclaimed novelists of the post-WWI period, with a readership rivaling those of Erich Maria Remarque and Thomas Mann. Hans Fallada wrote the novel "Every Man Dies Alone" in just 24 days shortly after he was released from an asylum where he was being treated for a drug addiction to pain killers. He died in that same year, just before the the book was published. Apparently, it is one of his best novels.

I had never heard of this author although, apparently he was internationally renowned in the 1930s as one of the leading authors adopting the new realism style of writing. His novel "Little Man, What Now" was an International best seller. According to a biography in "Universal Studios turned Fallada's beautifully wrought literary realism into one of the best dramas ever made by the studio." . The movie was released in the USA in 1934.

Hearing about the sort of man Hans Fallada was and some of the things he endured, on the CBC radio broadcast today, was only one reason why I am so interested in this book. It explores a topic I was introduced to with the film "The Reader", which also explores the aftermath and consequences of being an every day German in the time of Nazi Germany. In this novel (apparently - I will find out when I finally let myself get the book), Hans Fallada uses the characters in his novel to recount what it was like living in Nazi Germany and what it was like for those people to try and undertake any sort of resistance to what was happening.

Hans Fallada wrote a couple of dozen books of which only a handful were translated and published in English.

To read a review of this book go here.

With our recent City Worker's strike there have been all manner of wild flowers (i.e. weeds) in bloom in our city parks - at least the ones not housing garbage. There was a wonderful display of purple thistle flowers on my walk today. While we are all glad they are back to work - I will miss all the pretty wildflowers on my walks.

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