Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday is for Soup

Sundays are soup-making days. I make enough for the week, for those quick, comforting bowls of warmth.

First, there is always broccoli/ginger/lemongrass, and, once cooked, an iceberg of goat cheese is indeed much larger below the surface than it is above. And further down, the turkey/leek/mushroom affair that was made off the top of my head when I had both thyme and time on my hands.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

All Together Now

At a large print shop I go to sometimes, one of their large machines has this imposing blinking light on it. Someone put a sign on it years ago. I feel good when I see it blinking away. Now it's my phone wallpaper.

Everything is ok. Breathe. Repeat.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pictures from a Train

More pictures from a train, this one from a four-hour journey in early January. It snowed after Christmas. The fields looked huge and empty. The one below had as solitary tree right in the middle of its huge expanse. My picture doesn't do it justice. The journey was, as always, deeply enjoyable. My lunch even more so, and worth the eight-hour round trip.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thank you, Armenia

For my dear Armenian friends, any occasion is a party. They are a party, a walking party in high heels, dispensing kisses and good cheer anywhere they go. Dinner at their place is always high in decibels and food... and drink. The rum baba was thoroughly soaked, soggy with alcohol, such heaven with all that whipped cream. The mystery tea infused in a glass pot, and was served pink and hot in small, pretty cups and saucers. As for the earlier courses (and my pics are in no particular order), it seems to me that if it can be served with pomegranates, anything goes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Droplets on Trees

I love water. I love trees. I love small, round things. Droplets of rain on trees are pretty much perfection. My umbrella trees got their shower recently and then sat in their window looking a little tropical. I remembered this day and I long for the next.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let's Hibernate

It was a night to breathe a sigh of relief, as a glut of work didn't end, but some of it certainly reached a moment of completion. I had immersed myself all afternoon in work, Zemlinsky and rushing thoughts and ideas for my own writing, ideas that I fear will never get put to paper. Overwhelmed by this and other intense stimualations, I trudged home through a beautiful winter's night, relieved that the bitter temperature had warmed up a bit. I retreated to my kitchen. This wasn't a night for an hour-long preparation. I needed good food, fast. So, with garlic and ginger and sesame oil, rice vinegar... what else? Soy sauce, shrimp, frozen beans (hate them normally)... anything else - I can't remember - I whipped up a comforting bowl of warmth and taste.

Let's hibernate. I'll bring the chocolate and the scotch.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wine, Walking, Workouts... WTF?

So I've got up at 6 a.m. the last two mornings to work out. If I didn't have an accountability/work-out friend who suggested the system, I wouldn't do it. The system involves encouraging texts at about 6:01 a.m. as I sit on the edge of the bed, head in my hands, whimpering.

Part of the regime is increasing my water intake. Fair enough. I'm using this wine bottle, that contained Voga Pinot Grigio. I didn't buy it for the wine (can't remember what it tasted like), but I liked the bottle. It sort of looks like it says "YOGA" on the side. That looks healthy! And I like the fact that as workmates walk past my office, I can be seen swigging from a wine bottle. A clever man suggested I use an empty scotch bottle instead for a bigger reaction. That would be fun. So would emptying the bottle. Heh heh.

Yeah. I'm supposed to be in bed... two hours ago. But I had to build a playlist of energizing music for my iPhone for the walks and workouts. Yeah. Plus iTunes drove me nuts. But I think I've got it done. My workout playlist is full of guilty pleasures like Haddaway and the Spice Girls. Go ahead and mock! See if I care! (Please be nice!) Okay, but now it's midnight and I can't sleep. ARGHHH!!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Fork in the Road

Is there one coming?


Is it scary?

No. It's not going to be very obvious either, to the outside world.

I heard a brilliant man talk recently about the time we spend every day of our lives on things that are not really important. And compare that to the things that are. We are here for such a short time. I'm always comforted by the thought that life is short, but WIDE.

My concept of wide up to now has been to do as much as possible.

I think that's a mistake. And so I am cutting back the things that just don't matter, and concentrating on those that do. How to decide what goes into which category? Some of it is obvious; some, less so. There's the rub.

I'm very lucky to have good people to talk to about this. It's not my way to talk about it much, but a thought shared can ripple outward like a disturbance in a pond... and when those ripples hit their mark and come back, it can be truly magical what does in fact come to you.

If I have any profound discoveries, I will share them here.

(The picture was taken by the lake in the Kawarthas last summer.)


Fall Flashback: Montreal

Time has flown. It was only a few weeks ago that I spent a good weekend in Montreal. Here are some pics... from my hotel room window along Boulevard René-Lévesque, a sculpture near the Fine Art Museum, a charming doorway, and the Santa Claus Parade... more accurately it was for Péré Noël!

The parade was charming to begin with, with Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer sung in French, etc., but turned very creepy as I was almost crushed to fainting by an out-of-control crowd of dolts who refused to back off in any direction. Several of us were scared out of our wits. We survived. I don't like crowds. But I like Montreal. I shopped. A lot. I'm on a shopping diet now.

A Trifling Resolution

Yes, I made a resolution. A January 13 one. Starting tomorrow morning I will wake up at 6 and do a workout before work. Yep. That's it. I'm resolved.

Oh, and here was New Year's trifle, courtesy of the world's best and most beauteous mother. Her classic recipe was topped with Godive chocolate pearls and I, in my vulgar way, plopped a dark Lindor ball in the middle. Heaven in a bowl. Pass the spoon. The BIG spoon.

No Dishes!

It was different this Christmas. After the service at St. James' Cathedral, we strolled over to the King Edward Hotel for their groaningly expansive Christmas Lunch buffet, and WADDLED back to my home. Ok, I didn't waddle. My heels were hurting so I took a cab and got there ahead of everyone which was nice, as I could turn on the lights and get the refreshments going (like we needed any more)! I recommend the buffet, but... only if you're in the mood to indulge. Stretchy waistbands are also recommended.

Cool Toronto: Coulbourne Lodge

I used to live very near Toronto's High Park. Now I visit it no more than once a year, but that's usually before Christmas, and it's always to visit Colbourne Lodge, the lovely Regency cottage of Jemima and John Howard, who left their land to the city to create a park, long before anyone knew they'd need a park! In the 19th century, the area that is now High Park was far away from the city centre, and so the fact that John Howard bequeathed the land so that city families would have a place to go that was green and spacious seemed a little eccentric. He was on the mark, because, to this day, High Park is exactly that for a very great many Torontonians.

M and I visited the week before Christmas. It's a small historic house, but there is a very distinct charm about it. The docents are dressed in period costume and are very informative and friendly. We had their homemeade shortbread (infused with candied peel) and hot cider when we visited one of the two kitchens.

And I always learn something new... like this fact: Colbourne Lodge was the first house in Toronto to have an indoor toilet. Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, Toronto's first loo:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Remembering Sun, Water, Trees

and endeavouring to stay warm this winter. The picture was taken through a screen door in the Kawarthas last summer after a dramatic summer storm.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

An Old Christmas Tradition

On Sunday, December 16, I took part in the Christmas Bird Count. In Toronto, the count began in 1900, making it the oldest in Canada. The Audubon Society has the history of this wonderful tradition right here.

It was a very cold and wet day, and I was part of a team of two. My partner was very experienced, so I (very inexperienced) was grateful for her patience and for being allowed to keep a written tally of birds, which made me feel useful. Luckily our patch was the Toronto portlands, AKA my happy hunting ground! For locals, this was the foot of the Leslie Street Spit (a large group did the Spit itself as its a major bird locale), along the Martin Goodman Trail and also Commissioners, to Cherry Beach (yay!).

Of course, there were trees... leafless trees on a rainy day... photographic catnip for me! Most of the day it just drizzled, but at times it was really bucketing down. As I reported in an email to my bird-counting friend later, I had never been truly so cold and wet... but I had a really good time. I was in the moment, I was in my element.

The brief stop off at Tim Horton's for a breakfast sandwich was very, very welcome, as the estimated morning-only count lasted til about 4 p.m.

Photographs below include seeing the CN Tower in the mist from Cherry Beach, droplets of water on just about everything, a Northern Mockingbird, baby trees, and the startlingly beautiful colours that are evident even at this time of year.

A hot shower never felt so good.