Sunday, November 22, 2015

Royal Winter Fair, Part 2

Aaaaaand, we're back!  Remember where we left off last week?  We were in the cow barn, watching selected bovine divas get primped for the judges.  However, this lot had already done their competition.  They were relaxing, and resting on their laurels.  The cow in the middle had won a red ribbon, which was pinned to the wall above her.  Her name is Fireball Miss Tootsie Roll.

This cow is fascinating to me on account of her unusually furry belly.

But enough of cows.  They're okay, but if I had to choose between a cow and a horse, it would be a horse every time.  I mean...

My aunt, who rides and volunteers for therapeutic riding programs (for veterans, and special needs kids) informs me that when a horse's lower lip is relaxed and kind of dangly, it means the horse is happy.  I wish you could have seen the lips of these two horses wibbling and wobbling around.  They were obviously chillaxed.

Hello.  My head is just a giant nose with two eyes on either side.  BTW do you have any apples in your pockets?  No?  I'd settle for a carrot...

The horses were getting dolled up to perform in competitive exercises.  This fellow had his fetlocks freshly powdered.

Other horses had their hooves blacked so that they shone like patent leather shoes.  I love the sound of horses clopping on the concrete floor of the huge, echoey Horse Palace.  (That's the official name of the building.)  There are two levels, so sometimes you'll hear loud clip-clopping from overhead because there are horses on the ceiling.  

Finally, as promised, freakish veggies.  One of several giant pumpkins:

A terrifyingly carved "root vegetable":

(She's coming for your soul in the night if you don't pay proper tribute.)

And the Grand Finale, a mutant, world-record-breaking beet.

My hand is included for scale.

That's it for photos.  Important experiences I didn't photograph are:

1) A sheep herding demonstration by one tough-as-nails shepherdess and four border collies, who performed in turn.  The sheep also deserve a mention.  They did a lot of running.  My favourite part was when the shepherdess demonstrated how she could command a dog to bring the sheep to her, and it would attempt to obey even if she made herself a moving target.  The resultant scene was a middle-aged woman running around an arena, being chased by seven sheep, which were in turn being chased by a dog.  It was pretty entertaining.  (I was seated too far away to get a decent photo.)

2) The petting zoo, of course!  Where else can I get my fill of having my palm nuzzled by fuzzy goat lips? Another rhetorical question: Have you ever heard of a zebu?  They are a type of small cattle originally from South Asia.  The petting zoo had TWO baby zebus!  (And their moms.)  This is not my photo (my hands were too slobbery for photos), but this is what they looked like:

They could not. Be. Any. Cuter.  

My last animal encounter of the fair was having my hand gently licked by a baby zebu's dark purple tongue.  I was tempted the tuck the calf into my coat and take it home with me.  But I didn't.  Maybe next year.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Royal Winter Fair, Part 1

Oh boy, you guys!  I went to the Royal Winter Fair with my Aunt!  You know what that means.  It's time for an ADVENTURES IN SPARKLAND PHOTO ESSAY!  (tm)

As soon as the streetcar doors opened at the fairgrounds, we could smell manure.  Who was doing all the pooping?  Let's go inside and see.  Starting with this fellow:

A mild-mannered llama who allowed visitors to pat his fluffy neck.  I waited my turn and got in there for some fuzzy lovin'.  Unfortunately I committed a faux pas by patting the llama on his head.  His ears went back and his human (the man in the blue shirt right behind him) said "Oh, I can see he's upset now," so then of course I felt bad.  Sorry, llama!  I didn't mean to annoy you.  There should have been a sign posted or something.

The Poo or False game of farm knowledge for children:

Answers were glued to the bottom of the (fake) cowpats.

This big bunny had some serious triple chins.  I guess she uses them as a pillow when she's sleeping.

For the past two years, I've gone to the fair on the first Friday that it's open.  I'm used to this one building being completely devoted to goats.  I love goats!  This year I went on the second Friday.  All the goats had gone home to their farms, and had been replaced by sheep.  I guess that's based on the competition judging schedule.  Oh well.  Sheep are pretty nice too.

Two friends sleeping nose to nose.

Here's my Aunt patting a wooly head.

Some of the sheep had been shorn.  In order to keep them warm in the somewhat chilly barn, some farmers had dressed their charges in sweaters or coats.  These guys looked a little weird with their hoods on.  I heard one lady say "They look like Klan members."  

Well, maybe a little, but they are black, so the similarity only goes so far.

This little girl was having a snooze.  She was dreaming and her little hooves were twitching.  I imagined that in her mind she was running across a sunny meadow full of clover.  Doesn't she look happy?  I wonder what she counts in order to fall asleep.

 After a considerable time spent on sheep appreciation, we moved on to the cow barn.

Look at those markings!  They don't look real.  If I hadn't seen the cows with my own eyes, I would have thought these were painted on.

The cow barn was busy.  Some of the ladies were being milked by mechanical pumps.  Others were being groomed for the judging ring.  If you haven't seen a cow at the "beauty salon", being primped by a team of humans wielding clippers, hairdryers, and brushes, you haven't seen everything.  

We didn't watch the cow contest.  We did see a little of the sheep pageant, just by virtue of being close to the judging arena.  The sheep had strong opinions about being made to stand in front of the judges.  There was a lot of loud complaining from the contestants, which was then echoed by their compatriots who were still waiting their turn.  My Aunt, who does volunteer worth with horses and is thus more of a farm expert than I am, said that the sheep were upset at being separated from the flock.  Poor sheep.  It's tough not understanding why about almost everything.

That's not the end, but I'm saving the rest of the photos for another post.  Stay tuned for horses and giant vegetables!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The County

I am out of town visiting with relatives in Prince Edward County.  This is my third time here, so I'm not nervous about taking the train like I was at first.  Nothing to be scared of here.

The upholstery on the train seats reminded me of video games, or a much-too-easy maze.  Find your way from the red dot to the blue dot, without getting lost!

The train ride was uneventful.  When I arrived at Belleville station, I was flooded with affection for my Dad when I recognized him walking toward me on the platform.  It had been so long since I'd seen him or my step-mom, I can't even remember when the last time was.  Months ago.  It was a happy reunion.

Today we took a trip to Napanee.  It was my first time riding on a ferry in a car.

It felt weird, nesting modes of transportation like that.  Like, imma take my feet and put them in this car, and take the car and put it on this boat.  What's next?  Float the boat into a space rocket?  Or hook it up to a team of camels and have them pull it along?

When the boat started, and I could see that we were moving, it was also weird to open the door and get out of the car.  I mean, one is not supposed to climb out of a moving car.  That is not normally a good idea.  But it's okay when you're on a ferry.

Napanee is a pretty, little, old town.  We had lunch and a wander up and down the main street.  We visited the local pet store, where we received a warm greeting from the welcoming committee.  There was this guy:

who, having established that I was a head-patter, sat down on my feet and would have been happy to remain there indefinitely; and a black-and-white Boston terrier who simply would not stay still long enough for me to snap a photo. 

The bearded dragons were surprisingly sociable.

Lin's Barber Shop cum Art Gallery was a neat little storefront.  Lin paints all his own signage, like this price list:

Very Norman Rockwell-esque.  

And that was about all the excitement that we could find in Napanee.  It was plenty enough for us! 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The good, the bad, and the Bubbe

I hope that all y'all had a good October 31st, whether or not you celebrate Halloween.  The weather in Toronto was ideal for trick-or-treating: relatively warm, windless, and dry.  My "costume of the evening" prize goes to the boy who dressed as a turkey dinner.  He wore a table top (covered in a red-and-white checked cloth) over his shoulders, with his head sticking through a hole in the middle.  He wore a plate as a collar and a roast turkey hat.  The table was set with plates, napkins, cutlery, and several side dishes in small serving vessels.  Give that boy ALL of the candy!

I am enjoying the weekend, but niggling work worries are never far from my mind.  One of my bosses popped into my office on Thursday, and, without much of an explanation, announced that the number of staff I am employing is "extravagant" and that we must immediately begin ruthlessly cutting hours.  Upon enquiring further with my other boss, I learned that a lawsuit we are embroiled in is the problem.  Although no one believes that the claimants have any good cause to seek compensation from the business (except the claimants themselves and their lawyer, of course), the cost of protesting our innocence via lawyer$ is sucking up a large portion of our cash flow.  

Now I have to consider firing one of my dear staffers who has been a loyal and hard worker for many years.  (Yes, I could fire someone less senior, but 1) there's a cost-per-hour consideration and 2) it's way more complicated than you even want to know.)  I haz a sad.

In an effort to distract me from my anxieties, Ken took me to the fancy mall for lunch and window shopping.  It was super-effective.

Versace always wins for Fierce Factor, in my opinion.  I mean, look at these totally unwearable shoes.  Are they not absolutely the most chic ever?

How about these laughably impractical boots?  So awesome.

Don't worry.  Versace does NOT reserve all the bling for the ladies.  Far from it.  LL Cool Joe, these shoes are for you.

Speaking of bling, Birks' estate jewellery section (of course they don't called it "used"; that would be so gauche) had these spectacularly ugly Canadian flag brooches in ruby and diamond.  I would like to know who they used to belong to.  Clearly someone with terrible taste.  Think of the beautiful pieces you could buy for that amount of money!  I mean, I'm a proud Canadian and all, but this is taking it too far.

 Oh, and if you're going to a baby shower anytime soon, I found this Fendi sweatshirt for a 1-year-old for $320.  Some people really have more money than they know what to do with.

Just when I was feeling all relaxed, having spent Halloween with friends, and eaten several fistfuls of tiny candy bars, my cell phone rang.  It was my 99-year-old Bubbe's assisted living facility looking for a family member.  At 10 pm, this couldn't possibly be good.  I braced myself for catastrophic news.  Fortunately, she was neither dead nor hospitalized.  She had fallen a couple of times that day, and it's their duty to inform someone.  The bottom line at this point is that she's not quite herself, and she may have had a small stroke.  However, she still hasn't run through all of her nine lives, so she may yet survive to celebrate her 100th birthday.  She's only got 6 months left to reach that milestone.  Go Bubbe!  You can do it!