Monday, July 30, 2007
I can't tell you how many times I've driven by it in the last 6 years and not noticed it. I love how dynamic the people look: the men striding briskly through the crowds swinging tbeir arms to the left; the tourist looking upwards through the lens of his camera; the group of men standing in the middle taking calls on their cell phones; the boy kicking a ball; the father holding his son up in the air; and the guy looking to make his way through this crowd on his rollerblades on the right.
It's come to my attention in the last little while that I miss a lot while driving around in my car. One of the things I'm really looking forward to about living downtown is being able to just walk around and experience the city up close and personal. I can't wait to share what I see.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
From the website:
Penguin Books were initially published in England in 1935, and were the first true thrust anywhere at providing quality fiction inexpensively. Founder Allen Lane wanted them sold alongside cigarettes and at the same price. Wildly and immediately successful, they became what one might call, the Oprah's Book Club of their day. To be published in Penguin format was a guarantee of sales and also carried with it a cachet of academic respectability. Seven decades later, the notion of easily purchased novels enlightening the masses and transforming the social fabric seems quaint.
Douglas Coupland's exhibition of collages, "The Penguins," examines that period in human history when the novel carried a different kind of freight than it does now, and tries to imbue moldy, dusty and yellowed paperbacks with the sense of vitality and energy that they once possessed.
I found it interesting how his collages were able to stand alone as individual pieces of art, yet in combination spelled out song lyrics and titles, as in Bizarre Love Triangle above, and Jet Boy Jet Girl below.
Thanks to stupid traffic, a drive that would normally take an hour dragged into a 2.5 hour stop-and-go joy ride along the QEW. It was all forgotten though as we approached our first stop, the charming Stonechurch Vineyards and were greeted by the delightful barman behind the tasting counter.
Here, we tried a flight of 3 whites - the Chardonnay, Dry Riesling, and the Medium Dry Riesling - and a flight of 3 reds - the Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz Reserve and Pinot Noir. Our barman, a lovely retired gentleman who had lived in Toronto and Mississauga before moving to nearby Virgil threw in a tasting of the Cabernet Franc. I enjoyed both rieslings but the latter was a little too sweet for my taste so I ended up bringing home a bottle of the dry riesling. My favourite of the reds was the cab sauv, which was surprisingly light considering I've always thought of this grape as one that yielded wines that lean towards the heavy and full-bodied.
Below is a view of their vines - there were various rosebushes planted at the end of the row of grapes...I have this vague memory of a winetasting lecture in class that roses are planted near grape vines so that pests that would otherwise attack the vines would be attracted to the flowers...
Our next stop was Strewn, where we sampled the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurtztraminer-Riesling and Rose. I love the scent of gewurtraminer on the nose - it usually brings to mind roses and lichee. The gewurtztraminer grape figures rather prominiently in the white wines from Alsace, but I learned in my winetasting class that while Alsatian whites have a fantastic bouquet, they often disappoint upon sipping. The gewurtz-riesling blend here had the lovely scent of roses on the nose, but also tasted really good - dry, fruity, and perfectly easy to drink. I brought a bottle of this home with me.
Our final stop was Stratus where we had arranged to pick up our order of wines from Wildass, their secondary line. I'd first heard of Stratus about the time it was founded in 2000. They were notable at the time for creating blended wines while most other vineyards in the region focused on single grape varietals.
We tried a flight of red wines which included their signature Red blend, Shiraz, and (I think) Cabernet Franc. And perhaps I'm being nitpicky, but for a place that charges $10 for a flight when smaller wineries charge $2, they were really skimpy with the pours! I must say that of all the tasting rooms I've visited - and I've visited quite a few here and abroad - Stratus has no equal in my mind.
The outside looks industrial and modern, which I personally find rather boring.Niagara-on-the-Lake as it's convenient given our patronage at the Shaw Festival but this next time, our grand plan is to stop for a hike and picnic in the Ball's Falls Conservation Area and visit a few of the vineyards in and around Grimsby/Beamsville and/or Jordan/Vineland. Something to look forward to!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
1. Did you ever end a sentence with the word “PSYCH!” Yup
2. Did you ever own a pound puppy? No, I thought they were kinda ugly
3. Which “heavy metal” group did you like? Um...Bon Jovi? not really heavy metal, I know, but I associate heavy metal with hair and they had the hair
4. What was your favorite Blondie song? Call Me.
5. Strawberry Shortcake or Holly Hobby? Strawberry Shortcake. Who the heck was Holly Hobby?
6. Admit it, you owned the Strawberry Shortcake little scented dolls? I was a deprived child.
7. What are “Hammer Pants”, and what is “Hammer Time?” Hammer Pants were popularized by MC Hammer, and Hammer Time was one of his hit songs.
8. Fraggle Rock or the Muppets Show? Muppets.
9. Saturday Mornings - Smurfs or Kids Inc.? Smurfs! La la la la la la
10. Did you rock the side ponytail? No. I could never get it to sit right on the side.
11. Did you play the game MASH (Mansion, Apartment, Shelter, House)? Huh?
12. How many pairs of L.A. Gear did you own? One, I think they were lavender and mint green.
13. Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing or Are you There God? It’s Me Margaret? Neither
14. Did you ever “wax on” and “wax off”? Yes
15. Do you even know what I’m talking about? Yes.
16. Did you wear flourescent clothing (Be Truthful!)? Yes, it was pink.
17. Michael Jackson or Prince? Prince - my cousin A's influence.
18. Name three actors from the movie Goonies. Corey Haim and Corey Feldman?
19. Cabbage Patch Kids or Garbage Pail Kids? I had a blond cornsilk doll
20. What lunch box did you carry to school? I didn't have one since I lived close enough that I could go home for lunch as a kid.
21. Slap bracelets? Nope.
22. Hypercolor t-shirts or Jelly Shoes? Both - I loved my jellys!
23. George Michael or Boy George? Do you really want to hurt me?
24. Friendship Pins or Friendship Bracelets? I had both.
25. Madonna or Cyndi Lauper? Madonna! I still have the towel and stickers I got in Amsterdam during her True Blue World Tour.
26. Did you wear penny loafers with a penny in them, and rolled up jeans? Rolled up jeans, yes...didn't have the loafers though
27. What 80’s movie did Julia Roberts mark her debut in (*hint* not pretty woman)? Mystic Pizza.
28. Do you know what happened to Baby Jessica? No.
29. What TV show did Johnny Depp get his start? 21 Jump Street.
30. Corey Haim or Corey Feldman? Push comes to shove, Haim because Feldman looked like a girl...but really, neither.
31. Did you own a Rubix cube, and if so, were you able to ever solve it? Yes and no.
32. What NFL team performed the “Superbowl Shuffle”? No idea.
33. Where were you when the space shuttle “Challenger” blew up? Dunno.
34. Run DMC remade what group’s song “Walk this Way”, and performed the new take with them? Aerosmith
35. Frankie says? Huh?
36. How many swatches did you own? Do you remember the colors? One, and it was blue/clear.
37. New Coke or Classic Coke? Classic.
38. Who was your favorite Facts of Life character? Jo, maybe.
39. Prince Charles and Diana or Luke and Laura? Diana for sure.
40. Did you own an Atari? If so, what was your favorite game? Didn't have one, but my cousins did and I like Carnival and Galaga.
41. What is the “Eye of the Tiger”? No idea.
42. Are you singing it in your head now? Just that one part.
43. Did you think high school was going to be like Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Haven't seen the movie
44. Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles? Can't recall if I've seen either of these movies in their entirety
45. What movie provided the famous line…”THEIR HEEEEERRRRREEE”? Dunno
46. Did you wear leg warmers? Yes.
47. Wacky Wallwalker or Stretch Armstrong? Huh?
48. Pee Wee sang “The Stars at Night…are Big and Bright!” in what famous movie? Not a fan
49. Couldn’t wait for the summer for Slip and Slide? Never played on one before.
50. Did you wear scrunched up socks with your reeboks? Possibly but I don't remember.
51. Rainbow Bright or My Little Pony? My Little Pony
52. Magic Johnson or Larry Bird? I don’t care.
53. We Are the World or The Greatest Love of All? We are the World.
54. Did you say “What you talking ’bout Willis”? Possibly
55. What was the hair spray of choice for girls around the nation to unreasonably tease their hair? I think the brand around here was Final Net.
56. Did you own banana clips? Yes, but they never worked for me - too much hair.
57. The Cosby Show or Family Ties? Family Ties
58. Did you ever think She-Ra and He-man should have hooked up? Totally.
59. Barbie or Jem? Jem.
60. Do you remember going to the skating ring BEFORE inline skates? I've never been and have only ever known inline skates
61. What fast food restaurant put out the famous commercial, Where’s the Beef? Wendy’s.
62. Did you rush home to watch the “After School Specials”? No. I watched Scooby Doo.
63. Ferris Bueller or Teen Wolf? Ferris Bueller.
64. You still have the “Eye of the Tiger” in your head, don’t you? No
65. Who ya gonna call? “GHOSTBUSTERS!”
66. Flashdance or Footloose? Neither, really.
67. Tiffany or Debbie Gibson? Debbie Gibson
68. What was the first video MTV played? Video Killed the Radio Star.
69. What was ET’s favorite candy? Reese’s Pieces.
70. What TV show did Bruce Willis star in? Moonlighting.
71. What was the name of the talking car in Knight Rider? KITT
72. What song had the words “Gag me with a spoon”? Dunno
73. What character on a TV show liked to eat cats? Alf.
74. Name six members of the Brat Pack? Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore
75. Duran Duran or Depeche Mode? Duran Duran.
76. What group did New Order evolve from? Dunno.
77. What was the name of the Bjork fronted 80’s band? Dunno
78. Name all five New Kids on the Block. Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Joe McIntyre and Danny Wood
79. What TV actress co-starred in the movie “Howard the Duck”? Dunno
80. Name the 4th original member of Depeche Mode, went on to form Yaz, and then another more lasting group? No idea.
81. What speed did Marty have to reach in order to activate the flux capacitor (*hint* Back to the Future*) Dunno
82. Name Buck Rogers pal. dunno.
83. What was the name of the bartender on The Love Boat? can't remember
84. What was the name of the once Morissey-fronted band of the 80’s? No clue.
85. Did you wear the Izod polo shirts? No
86. Esprit, Guess, or Forenza? Esprit
87. Did you think you would be killed by pop rocks and soda *be honest*? I've never heard this before
88. The California Raisins or Spuds McKenzie? Raisins
89. Did you skateboard, and if so, did you make sure you had on all your Vision Streetwear on before you went out as if you were Gator Rogowski? I did not.
90. Do you remember Max Headroom, and if so, what commercials do you remember him from? Yes and Pepsi, I think
91. Did you own a Beta or VHS? VHS.
92. Do you remember the “Baby on Board” trend? What did you think? No
93. Let’s get? Physical? It on? Physical.
94. What was the name of Don Johnson’s character on Miami Vice? Crockett.
95. Solid Gold or Dance Fever? Solid Gold.
96. Halloween or Friday the 13th? I don't do scary movies
97. Beat Street or Breakin? Is this a reference to breakdancing? If so, breakin.
98. What Irish rock group had us all singing, Sunday, Bloody Sunday? U2.
99. What was the trendy term for popular music in the 80’s? Uh...pop?
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Anyway, I've stopped in at the Real Canadian Superstore the last two days after class to shop Joe Fresh....I've kept my purchases to sale items only (well, except for a pair of running capris which were only $24!!) - and even then, they're basics like t-shrits and layering long sleeve shirts - for $5 and $7 each on sale, I scooped up about a dozen. How could I not?? The quality of the cotton is great, and the cut of the shirts is perfect. I figure they'll be good for my trip...in 3 weeks! :)
Rather random post...no point to this really...I'm in a funny mood...I think I'll go have some lichee now.... :)
Monday, July 23, 2007
BUT! After running 6K today - a personal best distance-wise - I can't say this laziness has had a negative impact on me, particularly since last I ran was two weeks ago today. :)
I didn't think getting beyond 5K would be so easy, but it was...so perhaps getting to 10K won't take me as long as I thought! I'm rather excited now for my next run! Maybe tomorrow, although I wonder if it's a little too ambitious...I don't want to overwork my body and lose momentum...So perhaps a Bodyflow class is in order to stretch out all the muscles...? :)
Sunday, July 22, 2007
I got back around 2:30 with 75 pages left to go and took my time, savouring the ending. It's not the ending that I wished for but it was no less satisfying.
I wait now for E to finish so we can de-brief together....in the meantime, I'm off to a BBQ...
Saturday, July 21, 2007
I started to re-read the Half-Blood Prince around 2am to refresh my memory of the series to date. I skipped my mandarin class today (yes, bad!) and have about a couple hundred more pages to go before I can dive into The Deathly Hallows. I'm excited to read it but also rather sad that it's going to end for me later today. No time to waste though! I've got me some reading to do!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
On one of my brief mental breaks this afternoon, I stopped by blogTO for a quick browse and happened upon this review of the Fringe Festival, which mentions the SummerWorks Theatre Festival that runs August 2 - 12. I don't think I've ever heard of this festival...but I'm intrigued. Given how much I enjoyed my solo Fringe experience, I might just go it alone again depending on the program...I should be able to pick up a program guide tomorrow before dinner so we shall see...
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
We've been in touch via email this week after an abortive attempt at getting together this past Sunday to talk about it further and from what she's been able to share with me, this, too, is probably not the right role for me. We finally caught each other live on the phone tonight.
I spoke with G first since he answered and, as usual, he provided me with some sound advice. While I am pretty sure that it's probably best for me to stay with my current company in the short-term, it wouldn't hurt to test my resume and interview skills on this position given that it's probably closer to what I would be looking for in future. It would be a good learning experience, whatever the outcome.
I spoke with E afterwards, first about Harry Potter - the end that's coming, the latest movie, etc. - and then about the possibility of future set-ups with single guys they may know (I spoke with G too about this, we're open like that) and finally got down to business. She offered to refer me to the manager of the group - but she'd frame it like an informational interview. I've promised to send her my CV in the next couple days, so we'll see how that goes...
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Our friendship is simple in that we can not see each other for a year and get together and have the conversation be easy and confident. That's how it felt today. We exchanged updates on our work situations and commiserated with each other and then got to talking about relationships. Stereotypical, yes, but when two girlfriends get together to catch up, you know that relationships will figure onto the agenda.
So I asked for the latest on her and the boyfriend. They've been together for what must be at least a decade since they've known each other since school, and when we met last year, she had said that she's content to just continue as is, that she had no interest in getting married. It seems the situation hasn't changed much. She's still quite happy to carry on as they have, and he seems to agree that things are fine as is.
She maintains that she's never been the kind of girl who needs constant companionship - they will go 4 or 5 days without seeing each other but they still communicate all the time. She knows that he fully understands her and gives her the space when she needs it and supports her when she needs him close...while this sounds like what I want, I couldn't help but feel like she was rather dispassionate and rational about her relationship.
Is it foolishly romantic of me to think that if I was in a relationship, I would want to have my man close? I wouldn't expect us to spend every free moment together - I do need alone-time to re-charge - but I would miss him if I didn't see him knowing that I could, i.e. we lived in the same city and getting together didn't require hopping on a plane and travelling across the country to see each other like my last relationship.
We somehow got onto the topic of babies...I want one...a girl....eventually....I think. And if that's the case, I'd like to have this baby say by the age of 36 - which leaves me 5 years. If I work backwards, that means I've got about 2 years to find Mr. Right and get married since I'd like us to have at least a year of living together as a couple without baby. Stuff like this I obviously can't plan for...so I'll just have to see how the future unfolds...
It was really nice to have a different perspective on things tonight. I feel like I've been so pre-occupied with trying to figure out my next career move that I just haven't been seeing things clearly...and talking about it with friends who are a little more removed from the situation has helped me step back a bit to look at the big picture.
We parted with the promise that we'd try not to let another year go by before we got together again, so our goal is to meet and catch up once a quarter.
As to the food...thankfully there were 5 options to choose from in each of the first 2 courses so I went with the lighter fare: Grilled calamari, chickpea & grilled chorizo salad, chimichurri to start, followed by Grilled steak salad, watercress, spinach, green beans, roasted potatoes, balsamic roasted shallots and topped off with Frozen lemon mousse, blue berry compote.
4 down...2 more to go...
"I just wanted to thank you for your time and consideration, but I've decided to pursue other opportunities."
I tried to get it all out quickly to pre-empt an interruption and loss of courage on my part, so I can't remember what exactly it was I said.
The hiring manager, who I've heard from at least 4 different reliable sources is super-nice, sounded super-nice on the phone, and asked if it was with their company or somewhere else, so I said somewhere else.
And I couldn't help but to apologize: "I hope I haven't wasted any of your time," and he said, "No, I appreciate you telling me now."
So I did it. I'm off the hook. I don't know if I just made a mistake, but it's done.
Have you ever experienced the irony of knowing what you don't want but not what you do want? Because that's how I've been feeling about my career, but I had an "a-ha" moment last week when I came across a job posting that sounded perfect - it was a sales and marketing role developing and vetting new products. I'm not qualified enough yet to project lead, but I'm certainly on the right track towards that goal given how quickly my current role has changed.
And while I'm still not sure that staying with my current company is the right decision for me in the long-run, I'm beginning to suspect that in the short-term, it would be the best thing for me as I'm working on a project doing precisely what I hope to manage and lead one day - I'm on a team scoping out a new product for which I will eventually create a business case to determine its financial viability.
Anyway, he understood, said that as much as he would like me to return to the company, he saw that I'd probably be returning to what amounts to the same group that I had left doing similar work. He also saw that I had given this decision a lot of thought and that I shouldn't feel guilty for doing what was right for my career.
So I'm glad that we're square there. I haven't been able to get in touch with the hirning manager yet. Having to reject a potential employer is foreign territory for me and it has caused me quite a bit of stress since I don't want to burn any bridges or have anyone feel that they have been misled. So I hope to keep this upcoming conversation short and sweet.
Monday, July 16, 2007
So, the food! There were four of us and 2 options for each course so we were able to sample the entire menu:
Pan seared sea scallops in miso, micro herbs soy-ginger dressing
Roast breast of free range chicken with a sweet corn risotto, braised leeks and a truffle jus
Tilapia fillet with a roasted pepper and black olive salsa, parisienne potatoes and French beans
Chocolate Torte with milk chocolate chantilly
I had expected the ostrich carpaccio to be a touch gamey but it wasn't at all. It was paper-thin red meat, super-tender and SOOOOO good!! The 2 scallops were a good-size and perfectly seared so that it was still a touch translucent in the centre.
I had the chicken which was was moist and tender with a perfectly seasoned crisp skin that was sweet from the truffle jus. I love me some risotto, but the sweet corn offering here was rather unremarkable and perhaps overcooked. The tilapia, too, was a touch overdone since it seemed a bit dry, and the parisienne potatoes reminded me of fried fish balls that could be found in the refrigerator aisle of the chinese market.
The desserts were yummy - portions were just right and super-light: the pavlova was light as air and the lemon custard the perfect balance of tangy-sweet. The chocolate torte was not as rich or heavy as I had feared - it really was as light as the server had promised despite coming topped with a heavy-looking mousse and the milk chocolate chantilly provided just the right hit of occasional crunch and sweetness.
And, just for fun, balsamic vinegar that smiles back at you:
We had ordered an additional appetizer of the buffalo milk mozzeralla with heirloom tomatoes and aged balsamic reduction to share and it may have been the best variation of the caprese salad I've ever had. Mmmmm....
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Cheryl is a compulsively single cryptozoologist/office temp with a Sasquatch fascination who is beginning to realize that Bigfoot may never come and sweep her off her feet. Daryl is a corporate climber who is looking for that special co-dependant tax write-off to one day divest his RRSPs with. As our two heroes pass through courtship and falling in love, and then turn to face the looming possibility of marriage, old truths begin to surface. Will the future Bride and Groom be able to navigate the pitfalls of a modern relationship, or will more primitive desires prevail? Bride of Sasquatch is a comedy that explores what it is we must give up, and what we must hold on to when we fight to survive in that dark, dangerous and foreboding wilderness called modern love.
Play #5 was supposed to have been An Inconvenient Musical, but I arrived to find that the tickets had sold out while I was waiting in the in between time at the Second Cup for the rain to stop so off to the ROM I went to while away the time before picking up tickets for Something Unexpected, "a Harlequin romance set in small town Ontario" according to the program.
I really enjoyed this afternoon's productions since they were not only well-written and well-acted, but they were also very relevant to me:
The Sasquatch in the former is obviously symbolic of the universal search for the perfect mate, but for me, I'd switch "mate" for "job" since dating and men are very much on the backburner while I figure out what I want career-wise.
There's a scene near the end, when Cheryl freaks out because she's not sure that she's ready to give up on her dream of finding the Sasquatch to sweep her off her feet so she tries to push Daryl away by picking a crazy fight but he's crazy in love with her, so they presumably live happily ever after. Yes, it's unfair to test the other's love like this, but I defy anyone who says that they've never done it because they'd be lying - this brings to mind the lyrics in Push by Sarah McLachlan, and these ones in particular:
In Something Unexpected, we find two very different sisters: Meredith who's married, white-collar-successful and perhaps a little smug about it; and Lily who's single on her 38th birthday, blue-collar-living-in-a-trailer and doing just fine on her own, thank you very much. As the play unfolds, Lily tells Meredith about how she met the guy she is dating at Walmart and when she's pressed to arrange a meeting with Harrison, the new man, it's revealed that the entire relationship was a figment of her imagination made up only to avoid her sister's constant pity and disappointment at her single status.
This made me think afterwards of my relationship with my mother, and to a much lesser extent, my interactions with my friends. They are all concerned about my single status - to varying degrees of course - my mother is worried that I'll never get married and she'll always have to worry about me. But she can't be more worried than I am about my singlehood.
I put up a pretty good front about being independent and fine on my own, but I am worried that I will never meet someone (again) who I'd be happy to spend my life with. And while I've never been the insecure type that seeks validation of my self-worth in a relationship* - I actually feel sorry for these people - I wonder if my expectations are too high.
So I decided this spring to take a page out of The Year of Yes and another from Around the World in 80 Dates and date guys that I would otherwise have said no to on the off chance that I'd been prematurely writing guys off because they didn't fit a particular ideal. But after going on a series of dates with a number of guys that turned out to be completely uninteresting to me, I've decided to remove myself from the dating pool for the time-being because it's rather demoralizing to meet guy after guy and be confronted with the fact that perhaps lowering my expectations wasn't the answer.
(Now that I think about it, there's really no point to this meandering, inconclusive examination of the dryspell that is my love life at the moment. I just needed to organize my thoughts...and clearly it's a work in progress...)
To sum up, this Fringe experience has been great. It was a tentative experiment on my part to see how I'd feel about doing something on my own. And I've come to the preliminary conclusion that it's very liberating since I didn't have to consult with anyone but myself or compromise on what plays I wanted to see, and I was able to wander about at my own pace in between shows, like at the ROM and through U of T. I'm so glad - and truth be told, a little proud - that I did this because I would have missed out on a lot of fun otherwise.
* Not to say that this is true of all people in relationships, but you know that these people exist - serial monogamists who are too afraid to be on their own and are in relationships for the sake of being in relationships. I have never been this type of person.
I went to school in Waterloo where the campuses lack the history and character of the buildings here and there's a tiny part of me that wishes I'd stayed in town for school if only because of the U of T campus, which has stood in for many an American university in movie and television production filmed here.
The sundial above is on King's College Circle, and below is Trinity College, the Anglican college founded in 1851 that counts among its graduates writer Malcolm Gladwell, filmmaker Atom Egoyan, businessman Ted Rogers, former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, and Canada's ambassador to Washington, Michael Wilson.
Below is Soldiers' Tower, built in 1923-4 and located at the western end of Hart House.
Carved in stone on the Memorial Screen are the ranks, names and units of the 624 members of the U of T who gave their lives while on active service in WWI, along with In Flanders Fields (below) the poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915 which continues to symbolize the sacrifices of those who fought in WWI.
Below is Convocation Hall, which was built 100 years ago and plays host to the university's annual graduation ceremonies - hence the name.
And last but not least, Robartes Library, where I spent much of my non-working and sleeping hours for all of May and the first half of June in 2003 studying for my 2-day CMA Entrance Examination. I'd heard that it was designed to resemble a turkey but I could never see it until this evening, on my walk back to St. George subway station after my last show. I was waiting for the light to change so I could continue northward when I looked up and it just clicked: I've been blind to it all this time because I've always approached it from the wrong direction!
So tell me, d'you see the turkey too?
Friday, July 13, 2007
I saw Varsity Centre for the first time and was intrigued as I glimpsed the stands first on my walk eastward along Bloor.
The track is blue rather than the more typical ruddy-brown after U of T's Varsity Blues athletics teams. The view of it with CN Tower and the blue skies in the background was hard to resist so I just had to share:
My original plan was to go to Nathan Phillips Square for lunch to check out the street food demonstration being staged by some of the city's best chef's today but I ended up making a last-minute lunch date with a friend downtown to talk about my career issues. We went to Thai Island in the TD Centre where I got the green curry chicken which I've soooo missed since moving midtown for work. We would have seen each other this Sunday anyway since I had gotten in touch with his wife about questions on a role I'm interested in at her company, but I wanted him as a sounding board as he's probably one of the most resourceful and savvy guys I know. And he did not disappoint. So, thanks again, G!!
After lunch, I made my way over to the Tarragon Theatre to catch Rumpleforeskin at 2:15pm. I wasn't at all interested in seeing it until I read the Fringe review in Eye Weekly on my subway ride down to lunch. As per the program, it's a "loving adaptation of an old fairy tale for the enjoyment of the young at heart." And I'm so glad I did because it was funny, witty and clever with references to Conrad Black's legendary verbosity, the Bloc Quebecois, Ontario and Saskatchewan among others that labelled it Made in Canada.
I stayed for Expiry Dating which followed it at 4pm. I had wanted to see this since it had gotten a lot of buzz as the winner of this year's Toronto Fringe New Play Contest. This was about a couple who meet and get married shortly after when they find out one of them only has 6 months to live. They played to a full house and it was good, although the acting was probably better in Rumpleforeskin.
I saw Wedding Belles last Friday and it was...lacking: the plot was sufficient but the acting was uneven, which I found rather distracting.
The plan is to see at least one more show tomorrow so that I hit breakeven on my pass...
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Fricco di Finocchi e Rucola - lightly dressed salad of arugola and fennel, served from a parmigiano nest
Involtini alla Bartali - braised veal scaloppini stuffed with portobello mushrooms, pancetta and parmigiano, served with seared polenta and steamed rapini
Panna Cotta - cooked cream custard served with chianti poached peaches
The servings were perfect for lunch - not so filling that I felt like a nap afterwards. The salad was OK...nothing spectacular, although the parmagiano nest, which was parmesan cheese shredded over a bowl-like shape and then baked in the oven to harden, reminded me of one of my favourite Chinese dishes - jeuk chow dai jee - or scallops in a taro basket. The veal was on the dry side, but thankfully the tomato sauce that accompanied it provided enough moisture to compensate.
The panna cotta....oh, the panna cotta. This piece de resistance more than made up for the lacklustre courses that came before it. I had panna cotta for the first time ever in 2002 in Australia. If I recall correctly, it was on the first night of a very rainy and overcast girls' weekend in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. It was a vanilla panna cotta - I could see the tiny black seeds of the vanilla bean in the cooked cream - and it was so freakin' yummy!! I think I encountered it a couple more times over the next couple weeks but can't remember seeing it on a menu in Toronto until today. The one time I tried making it, I added too much gelatin (it was late and I blame it on a boy for keeping me out so late the night before) and the panna cotta that resulted was probably hard enough to bounce off a wall. I will never live that down.
The Italian theme continued with dinner tonight at Sopra Upper Lounge where for $35 I had:
pappa al pomodoro - tuscan style tomato and basil soup with a grilled crostino
filetto di salmone - seared salmon filet with sauteed zucchini, garlic, cherry tomato and fresh herbs gremolata
tiramisu d’estate - raspberry and lemon tiramisu
The portions were very generous - the soup was hearty, but I think the crostino was missing...unless it was incorporated in the soup. I was expecting something sort of like a french onion soup with the bread on top. It was also served lukewarm, and I'm not sure whether it was meant to be a cold soup, or if our server was late picking it up for service as they seemed to be a little short-staffed. The salmon was seared with the skin on and I loved how crispy it was - again, it was a bit on the dry side and I could have done without the veggies as they were diced and rather blah. As for dessert, it was a disappointment. The marscapone topping for the tiramisu wasn't as fresh and lemon-y as I expected it to be...nor was it as light and the taste reminded me of something familiar...and it wasn't until I was a few bites in that I recognized it as the lemon-flavoured Sugus Candy I used to favour as a kid.
We ordered a bottle of Wildass Rose which my friend had recommended to me and I must admit that it was a little heavier than I would have expected for a rose wine and not nearly as fruity as I would have liked but very good despite my preconceived notions.
Enough about food as it's late. I've got a full day tomorrow - work in the first half and, if I'm productive, an afternoon/evening of fringing followed by a couple hours of preparing for my mandarin class before going to bed, the latter of which I could have avoided if I hadn't procrastinated last night by sitting my ass in front of the TV watching So You Think You Can Dance. But I'm weak.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I did have a moment though today with the footwork...there was one combination she taught us tonight that I got, only because it reminded me of the kick-ball-change combination I learned in jazz dance as a kid...the only difference was that the kick was more like a tap-the-ball-of-the-foot down. For a moment there, I was feeling pretty damn pleased with myself...and then she asked us to put it together with the arms...and I promptly lost it again.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Saturday, July 21st is almost here - the official release date for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This early shipping confirmation is to let you know, that in preparation for the July 21st delivery, your Harry Potter pre-order, OR####### is packed and ready for pickup by Canada Post! We've partnered with Canada Post to ensure your book is delivered to you on Saturday July 21st, the day of release!
Normally we confirm shipment the day an order leaves our warehouse. However, to ensure your order arrives for Saturday, July 21st, we're packing orders in advance of the actual release day. As such, if you paid for your order by credit card, we have now processed a charge to your card. In addition, the tracking number included in this email will not display any relevant Canada Post delivery updates until the day of the release - July 21st.
Guess what I'll be doing that Saturday after Mandarin?!?! I think I feel a book hangover coming on... :)
I haven't done anything beyond poke around quickly in the different parts of the site, but from the looks of it, members catalog their books and the site connects people with the same books, comes up with suggestions for what to read next, etc. I've already joined about a half-dozen groups and can't wait to start cataloging my books tonight!!
(I did say that this was totally geeky, didn't I?)
Sunday, July 08, 2007
1. The Great Wall of China
2. The Colosseum in Rome
3. The Taj Mahal in India
4. Petra in Jordan
5. Machu Picchu in Peru
6. The Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil
7. Chichen Itza in Mexico
One week and one month from today I'll be able to cross #5 off my list.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
While it's held only a short walk away from my house, this was my first time attending. The atmosphere reminded me of Temple Street Market at night in Hong Kong: crowded with people out for a late night stroll or shopping amongst little booths where vendors sold their wares.
There was an Iron Chef-esque competition going on when we were there and all I managed to catch while walking about the crowds was that one of the contestants was preparing a dish with round and plump deep-fried tofu.
A basketball and volleyball court were set up to the north of the market where I suspect some kind of tourney was going on. Just south of that was the goods market - where vendors sold costume jewellery, cellphone accessories, and DVDs.
The stage was set up in the middle and to the south of the that was the food market - and there was some yummy eats to be had, including:
BBQ lamb on a skewer - so juicy and tender!
Grilled pineapple sprinkled lightly with cinnamon sugar - I'm going to have to try this tomorrow for my BBQ!
And stinky tofu, which appeared to be really popular since they had about a dozen woks going and 3 different queues. I've never tried it, and it looks harmless enough, but if my mother, who eats foul-smelling durian, says it makes her want to gag, it's enough for me to know that my life is probably complete without having ever tried this. My love and enjoyment of chicken feet at dim sum will have to suffice as evidence of my Chinese-ness. ;)
The interview went alright. I never can tell, though. It was 2 hours long - the kind of interview where 10 more minutes became another 10 and I was just tired and wanted to get outta there but had to grin and bear it because I still had to be "on" for what turned out to be another 40 in the end.
So here's the thing: the position isn't too, too different from the role I left about 2.5 years ago, except that there's a lot more analysis rather than rote reporting.
I scanned the staff directory while I was waiting for the interviewing manager to come get me* and a lot of the names were familiar to me...so it got me thinking - would this move be a step forward or back? I knew going in that this would be a lateral move for me. But would I be going from one dissatisfactory position to another? Should I just stick around a bit longer to see if things change where I am now and in the meantime continue to look for something that's more ideal?
I learned yesterday afternoon that the winds of change that have been hinted at have finally come. My group will be undergoing another organizational change - a member of our senior leadership team is joining another group - so that could be good, bad or indifferent for me.
What to do? What do I wanna be when I grow up?? I don't know, and I always thought I would.
So I've got me some thinking to do...
* The manager who interviewed me isn't actually the hiring manager. He's doing the initial screening and will be forwarding a few candidates onto the manager who I could potentially be reporting to - and I've heard nothing but nice things about him from my contacts.
And a view of the eastern facade at present, because, you know, I'm a geek like that. ;)
Progress this week:
The project, begun in 2005 and officially opening July 22, will have taken only 18 months to build given that construction stopped in the winter months.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
At least this gives me time to (hopefully) catch Wedding Belles at 5:15!
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
But it occured to me that with all my friends coupled off, I can't think like this because I'll miss out on so many fun things. Besides, my friends aren't necessarily interested in the same things as I am anyway, so either way, I'd be out a companion.
So, la la la, I had this grand plan of heading down to the Fringe Club to pick up my pass by 12:45 and then hopping on the TTC to make the 1:45 show of Serena de Bergerac, which would be followed by Searching for Degrassi at 3:15, and end with Wedding Belles at 5:15. Of course, my pass is only good for redemption of tickets at the door, so given the tight timing in between shows and the fact that the first and second shows are at venues about 10/15 minutes apart, I'd be cutting it really close.
And then about 3pm today my plans unravelled a little. I got a message to say that the hiring manager for the position I'd applied to at my old company wanted to meet me tomorrow morning at 9am. He'd left for the day, but could I please leave him a voicemail to confirm whether or not I would be able to make it.
It must be a good sign that they want to meet me so soon, considering that I had only just sent my old manager my CV yesterday via email...but who tries to set something up so.last.minute? There was no way for me to conjure up a suitable white lie about a doctor's appointment and I'd like at least a day to prepare and get myself into the right mindset, so I left him a voicemail to say that I had a meeting tomorrow morning but I was free to meet Friday afternoon or sometime next week when it was mutually convenient. So now I wait for him to call me back.
One way or another, I'll be freaking out tomorrow night: if my interview is scheduled for Friday afternoon, I'll be stressed preparing for it and if not, then I'll be quietly freaking out and reassuring myself that no, those other people tomorrow who are out with friends won't be staring at me and talking about me behind my back with pity because I'm all alone and have no friends - my paranoia gets the better of me sometimes. :)
* I had gotten tickets to see a play at the Shaw Festival with the ex, who had flown in for a long weekend from overseas before heading back to the West Coast. He sat with me through to the first intermission before pleading jetlag and spending the rest of the play sleeping in the car.
Two of these dinner dates are with friends that I haven't seen in about a year. That's the thing about this annual promotion (moreso than its companion promotion Winterlicious, which is, duh, run in the cold month of February) - people are more inclined to go out in the summer and what better excuse to get together with people that you don't necessarily see often then over a meal? Everyone's busy with their daily lives and responsibilities, but everyone has to eat. There's good food and drink and presumably great conversation over a few hours and then you're pretty much set for the next year. Easy peasy.
Guess I better step up the work-outs though to work off all these 3 course meals!
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
And while the three clematis vines in the garden bloom at different times, it only just occurred to me that the shade of purple deepens from one vine to the next as spring progresses into summer...
This visit of hers has been extraordinary in that we haven't yet fallen into our usual patterns of interaction despite her crazy hormones. Maybe part of it was my fault in the past - I must admit that I have a short fuse when it comes to my family, but we're also not very good at the communication thing which frustrates me to no end. Throw in the cultural differences inherent in growing up in a Chinese household in a larger Canadian context and you get a rather messy dynamic. But enough about that.
Sister arrived back from a week-long vacation in Thunder Bay with her sister-in-law's family late Friday night. We went out for dim sum the next morning - just my mother, sister, brother and I. And it was really good. I can't recall the last time we 4 were together like that...it might have been last Christmas when she was here, but I can't be sure. We walked about Pacific Mall for a bit afterwards - Sister picked up some Asian snacks for her trip home Thursday and I found a store that carried Sofina Perfect UV White SPF 50, a product not readily available in North America, which I had read about on Makeupalley.com (can I just say that it is as good as the reviews proclaim it to be!?)
Afterwards, Brother went to test drive cars, Mother went home to nap and Sister and I went shopping - just the two of us. And it was good. First off, the perk of having an expectant mother with you is that you can park closer to the mall entrance - we drove up and down a few aisles trying to find parking before Sister noticed the pink parking spots earmarked for expectant mothers and people with tots and young children, so we scored prime parking real estate.
We shopped and ended up giving each other some pretty good shopping karma as she was able to find a pair of comfortable black dress shoes for work which she had been searching for for quite a while, and some really cute maternity clothes. Meanwhile, I found not one, but TWO pairs of shoes at Winners - a pair of adorable pink ballerina flats and super-comfy black heeled sandals -they were $40 each and while I didn't need them, how could I turn down such a great deal? It's better than 2 for the price of 1!!
In the three or so hours we spent alone together not once did we exchange a short word with each other - it's probably something of a record.
We hooked back up with Brother for dinner (Mother had a wedding banquet dinner to attend) - Sister has craved Korean Kal Bi all through her pregnancy, so off we went for some yummy short ribs - and it was yum. May I also say that Sister's appetite is exceptional? She eats more than Brother, which I suppose, doesn't really mean anything since he doesn't eat as much as you'd expect considering how built the kid is...but still.
I almost forgot what triggered this post! My sister taught me a new word today:
doula, n: a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, and emotional support to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth.
I thought she was talking about some weird, granola-y West Coast thing, but apparently it's not - her friend here in Toronto had one when she gave birth 16 months ago. Now I feel the need to ask my friends at work who have kids if they had doulas, too. Pregnancy seems to me this exclusive, sometimes mysterious club - what else do I, as a single-never-have-been-pregnant female not know??
Sunday, July 01, 2007
But stuff like this cheesey Molson Canadian commercial - a sequel, I guess, to their fabulously clever and funny "I am Canadian" spot appeals to the nostalgic sucker in me - from the final stake of the railway being pounded in which connects the nation from "sea to sea," to the soliders getting ready to go to war, the Dominon flag with its Union Jack being lowered and the Maple Leaf being proudly introduced, to the ubiqutous references to hockey and freakin' William Shatner.
On this day, 140 years ago, the British North America Act which established Canada as a confederation came into effect. It was originally known as Dominion Day making reference to the term "dominion," which was first used to describe a political union within the British Empire for Canada. The name was officially changed to Canada Day in October of 1982, due in large part because in the spring of that same year, Canada gained full sovereignty from the British Parliament and the Queen. (Good to know all those years studying Canadian History was not wasted.)
Alors, Bonne Fete Canada!