Sunday, October 26, 2014

Autumnal Glories

How can you tell that the weather has turned?

1)  EVERYONE on my RSS reader list has updated their blog this week.  That's the first time I can say that since the last snow melted in the spring.  Good show, people!

2)  I am grateful for a birthday gift knitted for me by my sister: an extremely fluffy infinity scarf in beautiful, warm fall-leaf colours.  When wound twice around my neck it covers me almost up to my nose, which is much-appreciated when I have to stand for half an hour in a cold wind at the bus stop because traffic is horrible.  (I.e. frequently.)  An interesting fact about this scarf is that my sister did not use knitting needles.  She knit it on her arms, like this:

Neat trick!  What's next - leg knitting?  Whole-human knitting?  Where does it end?

Speaking of that side of my family, I forgot to warn you about Pickle-ball.  Yes, Pickle-ball.  Do you think I might be kidding?  Maybe silly, whimsical Spark is imagining things?  I don't blame you, but Pickle-ball is real.  It's a sport somewhere in between badminton and table tennis, played with equipment and rules that are supposed to make it less strenuous than other racket sports.

Warning: Don't be fooled!  Pickle-ball is supposed to be easy on middle-aged bodies, but my dad and step-mom were both suffering from pickle-ball injuries when I visited them on Thanksgiving weekend.  Soon there will probably be an exposé: "Study shows epidemic of pickle-ball problems.  FDA investigation to follow."  You heard it here first.

What else is new?  Nothing, and it's great.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Thanksgiving in Bloomfield

I went to Bloomfield to stay with relatives for Thanksgiving.  The weather was mostly like this:

Wow, right?  At least for us city slickers who almost never get to see a horizon free from concrete clutter.  Some of you are probably saying "Pshaw, I see views like that every day of my life, in my rural paradise."  (I'm looking at you, Granny Annie.)  In my experience, however, this view is outstanding.

So is this one:

We went for a walk on an almost-deserted beach, crossing paths only with a handful of other humans, and some very happy dogs.  The sand was covered in little shells.

If you walked down by the waterline, it felt like you were crunching along an endless field of potato chips.

My family's house in Bloomfield is a new purchase, and they have only just finished decorating it.  I think it looks great.

My step-mom's art graces the walls.  She's a talented painter.  I like these bathing ladies.

As one does on Thanksgiving, we fed our faces.  Thanksgiving dinner was cooked at home, however I was treated to meals out at a variety of local eateries.  This squirrel sat next to me at The Regent, jealously guarding his nut.

We also did sight-seeing.  This is the view from Lake on the Mountain road.  That's Quinte Bay down there, with ferries gliding serenely back and forth.

Quinte Bay again, much improved by my sister's enthusiastic presentation.

Right across the road, literally steps away, is the Lake on the Mountain.  Maybe it's not exactly on a mountain, but it's clearly several hundred feet above the bay.  According to the signs by the water, geologists have not yet figured out how the lake formed up there.

Much is made of the mystery.

We could have gone shopping in a number of local businesses, which were all open for the long weekend, hoping to suck dollars out of tourists' pockets.  However, if there's one thing I get more than enough of in Toronto, it's opportunities to shop.  We skipped all the retail except for this one place: Surfer Girl.  It sells hella big ornamental doodads, things that no one in Toronto would have space for.  Here you can buy something at an appropriate scale for your multi-acre front lawn.

Like this set of five-foot-tall Tiki masks.

Seriously, you have to click on that photo and take a good look at the dog statue in the lower right corner.  That pooch totally looks like it's on crack.

Our last Hurrah was at Drake By the Lake, for brunch.  I went all out and ordered the Fried Chicken on a Pecan Waffle with Chile-Spiced Maple Syrup.  It was one of the best things I've ever eaten, no word of a lie.  The weather was a little cloudier by then, but the view from the dining room window was still amazing.  Picture the tree branches blowing in the wind, and frilly, white waves rolling in onto the shore.

Only a few hours after brunch, I was getting off a train in Toronto, navigating crowds at Union station, and wondering if I'd have time to do a load of laundry before setting my alarm for work the next day.  Long weekends are never long enough.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thought Processes

I figured out why Canadian Thanksgiving comes 6 weeks earlier than American Thanksgiving.  It's a harvest festival, right?  And Canada is (on average) further north, therefore the harvest occurs earlier.  *checks Wikipedia*  Yes, got it in one!  Happy Canadian Thanksgiving.

I'm always pleased when I can figure things out.  Neurological science has shown that learning new things or figuring things out actually boosts the dopamine (reward/happy chemical) level in our brains.  So, there: if you didn't already know that, I just made you happier.  You're welcome.

I have not been able to figure out what to write on my parents' anniversary card.  It's been ambiguous ever since they split up for four years, starting in 2008, and then reconciled.  My mom says that she doesn't know how to count which anniversary it is anymore.  Are you supposed to count the separated years, when they almost got divorced?  Are you supposed to start from scratch on the date that they moved back in together?  Is it acceptable to write "Happy Anniversary!  Can't believe you've been together for (n + 1) years!  Way to go!"?

I also get confused by the etiquette of waiting for a bus.  In downtown Toronto, in my experience, people mill around in a chaotic herd by a bus stop, and when the bus arrives they approach the door in as aggressive a manner as possible without actual shoving or making threatening eye contact.

Let's take King and Bay as the epicentre of Toronto's nasty, money-grubbing, type-A-personality workforce.  The further one goes from that centre, the more courteous people are.  One you're into the far suburbs, it's like being in a different country.  (Sweden, perhaps.)

I live in a grey area.  It's at the city limits. Thirty years ago it was a suburb, but it's gotten busier and is now more of a mid-urb.

The people I commute with operate with conditional courtesy.  They queue up at the bus stop, and if the bus pulls to a halt with the front doors in the correct spot, at the head of the queue, they will file into the vehicle like well-behaved schoolchildren.  However, if traffic is backed up, and the bus does not pull up right to the stop, but opens the doors one car-length back, the queue dissolves.  You might think that, like a snake, the line would move to the doorway in an orderly fashion, but no.  In this case, all bets are off, and everyone from every part of the line makes a run for the door at once.  I don't understand why this happens.  Can someone explain it to me?

(One more thing I do understand: a piece of dark lint on the floor that looks like a bug will "run away from you" as you walk towards it because of the breeze created by your moving feet.  It's not actually a bug, but you'll have to lean way down to double-check that because its insectoid appearance is so freaky.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Variety of Treats

Two weeks ago, I went out for a walk on a sunny afternoon.  I chased this butterfly around for 10 minutes before I managed to capture it in a photo.  (Click on the photo for a bigger version, so you can see the pretty spots on the butterfly's wings.  I wish that it had been a wee bit less shy, because I would have loved a closer-up snapshot.) 

It was warm out. I got so sweaty running around after this butterfly that I stopped to get water from a public drinking fountain.

I present to you these triumphantly phallic plants, basking in the sunshine.

On that hot, late September day, it seemed like summer would last forever.

Unfortunately, that was an illusion.  Yesterday, fall temperatures blew in on the wind.  When I went downtown to the Annex (a Toronto neighbourhood) to meet a girlfriend, I was sad to see that the ice cream store had shut down for the year.

I waited for my friend at Future Bakery.  I love their big windows that let in tons of natural light.  They also make a tasty decaf latte.

I perused the goodies display case.  A cute little girl-toddler approached alongside me, and was so excited by all the treats that she starting yelling and beating her hands on the plexiglass.  I feel you, sister.

There was pie.

There was cake.

There was even pie-cake!

After 20 minutes of waiting, I texted my girlfriend.  Turns out she had forgotten about our date.  :-(  Or not exactly; she knew we were supposed to meet on Saturday, but she didn't clue in that "today" = "Saturday".  Oh well.

Since I was already downtown, I took the opportunity to go see the Alex Colville exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  I spent over an hour there, taking it in, and I loved it.  Here's an example of his work:

 When I was done with the gallery, I went into a nearby Chinatown bakery for a snack.  Their selection wasn't as appealing as the options at Future Bakery.

No, I don't know what a meat cookie is, and I didn't ask.  I bought a small walnut butter cake for $1 and got crumbs all over my chin.  It may not have gone as planned, but it was still a very good day.