Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Can. Not. Wait.

Hurry, hurry, hurry!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How Nice a Town is Stratford, Ontario?

This is an example of their graffiti.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Riso Amaro

TCM showed some great Italian neo-realism films a while back. I PVRd Riso Amaro (1949), which translates as "Bitter Rice" or... "Bitter Laughter". It has been on my must-see list for a while. What a cast... Silvana Mangano, Vittorio Gassman and Raf "rowrrrrrrrrrrrr" Vallone. Itinerant rice-harvesters in the Po Valley struggle with poverty and an uncertain future while being swept up into love, lust, crime and jealousy. It certainly lived up to expectation. And yes, there was a lot of rice.

Neo-realistic? Oh yes, very. Down to the sultry Silvana's un-molested underarms. What's all the fuss about armpit hair? I don't get it. I mean look at Silvana... do you notice the hair? Do you care?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Practically Life-size!

Our pals at NASA have released this stunning image of our big blue planet at 8,000 x 8,000 pixels. It's HUUUGE!


I loff you CuteOverload!

(Although I think the little guy in the clip has sleep apnea).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Lips Move

When I read quietly, my lips move. What's that about? It's generally considered a lame tactic, but - well - that's what I do. I think part of it is that I was lucky enough to be read to as a child, and still love, love, love being read to now. If I can't be read to in person by someone who's reading just for me, well I'll take an audio book. The human voice, with all its modulations, can be the most beautiful sound in the world. I do some voice-over work too, so sounding out words is something I'm used to. I hear the words in my head, whether I'm reading for pleasure or work.

That got me to thinking about the pleasure of reading and the evolution of my reading which is now including the graphic novel. What started as a devotion to the Tin Tin books is now evolving. I was blown away by the virtuoso writing of Alan Moore's Watchmen. The illustrations added a layer that showed me how the words and images work together, and cannot be imagined apart. I just finished another Moore graphic novel, From Hell, loaned to me by someone who knows way more than I do of the genre. Again, I was riveted and moved, frightened and energized, with many more ideas for books I want to read, by Moore and, well, more. What a sweet surprise amidst the grimness of From Hell (which theorizes about the identity of Jack the Ripper) to find a cameo by a personal hero of mine.

William Morris!

And now the same guy has lent me The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, parts one and two. Excellent!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Signifies an Optimist?

I recall the joke told me by my father, that illustrates the difference between an opimist and a pessimist: two brothers wake up Christmas morning. The pessimist finds a beautiful new train set at the foot of his bed. The optimist finds a pile of horse shit. When the pessimist is excitedly asked by his brother what he's received, he glumly replies, "Chuh, a new train set. It'll probably break down or something. What did you get?" The optimist replies: "I got a pony! But I haven't found it yet!"

Now, I was raised by a mother who had a natural intuition for healthy living and eating. Dessert was a rare instance in our home, as it is for me now, pictures of rich desserts on my blog notwithstanding. It was my job, from the age of about six to the day I left home, to lay the table for dinner. And I always - ALWAYS - put a dessert spoon on the table as well. My father thought this was so funny. But I earnestly held out hope. For over ten years I laid that dessert spoon out, and only on Christmas and Easter and birthdays and the odd Momentous Occasion would a sweet be forthcoming.

I am - despite a melancholy and romantic nature - an optimist. What marks this now? I was reminded in a comment I posted on my post regarding my missing martini shaker:

Readers, I keep a corkscrew in my desk at work.

(It has been used the odd Momentous Occasion).

So, what are you? An optimist or a pessimist? Give me an example!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I'm not going to go into my personal story in detail at this time. It's a long one, many years now, but still a very hard one to relate.

But I do want to say this, as it's important and valuable, and I wish to God I'd heard it myself before my last visit to a chiropractor:

Never, ever let a chiropractor perform a neck or head adjustment on you, or anyone within earshot of you.

You could save a life.

I was lucky I didn't die then and there. Although there are days I wonder if I was unlucky. The effects linger horribly.

Please spread the word.

As for Dessert Options

I'm planning a dinner. What to serve for dessert?

Pondering my kitchen shelves, obscenely groaning with chocolate, I noticed the jar of Barlett pears in Triple Sec that I was given for Christmas... had fantasies of excellent vanilla ice-cream and Soma-based Mayan spicy chocolate drizzled on top... then I saw another gift I received which was home-made by a very clever woman: Belle Hélène, the ingredients of which are bartlett pears, sugar, orange and lemon juice, and bittersweet chocolate. I think I see a happy marriage. Tick off the list.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Let's not Forget the Drinking

Short, intense shots of spicy Mayan hot chocolate at this blog's favourite chocolate spot, Soma!

Just across the road, a pint of cobblestone stout at Mill Street Brew Pub.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What the - ?!

I've lost the top to my martini shaker.


It's been far too long since I posted some food pictures on this blog. Here are some recent quickie lunches or brekkies.

CN Tower

It's big. I photographed it from the train as it pulled out of Union Station.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day Trip: Durham Region

Such blue sky... what a treat to be blinded by it!

Almost as blinding is the new "old" Roxy Cinema in Uxbridge. I think I could live here.

The fireplace in the Hobby Horse Arms, also in Uxbridge, my favourite out-of-town pub.

I was playing with the setting on my new camera when I snapped the best burger I've ever had.

The Hobby Horse boasts an "immense" collection of scotches. I think it used to be the largest in North America. No worries - no complaints from me!

The best burger ever notwithstanding, we then ended up at this blog's favourite Armenian family's home for another AMAZING MEAL!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wick! Eyeliner! Food! Smells!

You wouldn't think it would be this hard to find candlewick in Toronto. But I have found it very hard. So... for anyone who might be googling, here is some help!

Where can you buy candlewick in Toronto?

At the Big Carrot, Toronto's magnificent health food store on Danforth Avenue.

I was there this afternoon stocking up on some excellent supplies, and was gobsmacked to find my needed candlewick right there in the beauty section. I had given up finding it in Toronto. De Serres carries small quantities, and always seem to be out of stock when I need some. I haven't tried Michaels as I'm nowhere near one. I also got some lovely soft organic eyeliner too... my solo day of errands and exploring was very satisfying.

Tonight I cooked for the week ahead: organic lamb sausages in a delicious oniony/passata/garlic/rosemary base. And some organic chicken thighs, roasted with a delicious mustard/honey/coriander/mustard-seed/olive oil baste.

Home smells like heaven tonight.

I Needed This

I've been working very hard, both at work and on my own time. That's no surprise.

Then this morning I woke up and watched the sunrise through the window, from my warm nest. I stretched out my toes to find a cool spot and then smugly retracted them.

My home is in order and clean. The laundry is up to date. A little bowl of raspberries, plain yoghurt, raw pepitas and pistachios awaits me. The day is mine, all mine, and I will enjoy it solo. I need this and I'm very grateful.

Cold and Sunny

A cold and sunny day called me out for a walk.

Some bird is missing this downy bit of fluff. I hope he or she is warm.

Cherry Beach...

At the far end of my walk, I paused to watch the lake. I found a hair on my jacket, distinctly Tibby's with its ginger tip. These yoga pants are looking a little worn, but seeing that sign from Tibby warmed me well. :)

On the coldest day, there is always colour to be found.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Late Resolution

Must... see... more... jazz.

This was the witty and talented Aaron Weinstein at the Old Mill. His patter is reminiscent of Woody Allen. His music is magic.

Scotch and... chocolate. Thank you for a lovely evening, Ms O! :)

Around Corners

Two days after Christmas, I took my parents (one of my presents to them) to see Soulpepper's excellent production of Miklós László's Parfumerie. The play later inspired The Shop Around the Corner and You've Got Mail, as well as a stage musical and a film musical, In the Good Old Summertime.

Morris Panych's production, set in an Art-Nouveau shop in Budapest, was all charm and humanity, in the most gorgeous set. What a perfect piece for the season. I see they're bringing back A Christmas Carol next year, but I hope Parfumerie will be an alternating annual Christmas tradition for Soulpepper; I would be sure to see it again.

The next day, my parents joined me as we ate more turkey and watched the aforementioned, much-loved The Shop Around the Corner, to sort of, you know, bring it full circle. I love this movie so much with its prickly and torturous path to love. It's right up there with the other great Christmas classics.

Soulpepper is just one theatre around the corner for me (I'm so lucky), but it's my theatre company of choice. A recent highlight of their busy performance schedule was their Festival of the Word: a three-day weekend celebrating 400 years of the King James' Bible and the culimination of Shakespeare's writing career. I attended a fantastic concert with the Elmer Iseler Singers, Gene di Novi and Dave Young. One of several other events that weekend included a live, non-stop reading of the entire King James' Bible (both testaments). It took 76 hours and went 24-hours a day in the lobby of the theatre, with a rotating parade of readers. They streamed it online as well. Actor Gordon Pinsent started with Genesis and I was sure to watch Soulpepper's artistic director Albert Schultz finish it with Revelations; and here's the screen cap of that momentous conclusion!

My book shop around the corner has to be Nicholas Hoare, one of several along a charming row of stores on Front Street East, a fine bookstore with a special atmosphere. I go in with one or two books on the list, and come out with several more, of course...

These pictures don't do it justice as I didn't want to photograph other customers, so I couldn't show the Morris-fabric covered sofa, very comfy and capacious in front of the fireplace. This shop is a must-see if you're visiting Toronto!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Some Christmas Piccies

The best Christmas cookies ever... meltingly mouth-watering. Thenkingk you, Preencess N!

I love real Christmas cards. This year there were fewer than ever and yet more e-cards. I went to a friend's house and she had gazillions of cards! I was so impressed and then she told me that she keeps her favourites from year to year and puts them all out. I like that! A beautiful card is something I treasure.

Christmas morning breakfast, with the requisite buttered panettone.

Oh, a bulgy stocking! Is that a Soma package I see on top? Why yes... yes it is. Hee hee!

The Christmas table. I found musical-themed crackers. Here was the idea: each cracker contained a little tootly pipe, set at a different pitch from all the others. The conductor (me) had a tabulated guide, and would point at each person (who had numbers stuck to their foreheads) to prompt them to toot their horn, the idea being that beautiful music would be made. It wasn't. We laughed till our sides ached.

One too many cosmos.

The advent candle was a remarkably powerful visual, reminding me of how quickly the days were going. It's age isn't it?