Sunday, November 24, 2013

Unforgettable Day in NYC

The first day of a two-day flying visit to NY turned into something worthy of a short story.

So I woke on the Tuesday at 4 a.m. to catch an early flight from the island in the company of two colleagues. We arrived in NY around 9 a.m. The hotel kindly had our rooms ready already so we could dump our stuff and head out for a big breakfast. Then we got to the photography studio. Then I got a message that my voice-over agent wanted a demo voice test that I could make on and send from my iPhone. But they needed it by 5:30 p.m. I figured I would be back at the hotel in plenty of time to make the deadline.

And then I got a message that I had a box seat for the opera that night (starting at 7 p.m.), but also that I would be meeting my boss.

I was in jeans...

I hightailed it to Macy's, flinging myself on the mercy of a couple of salespeople who were WONDERFUL. Armed with some new clothes and shoes I exited the store to find myself in rush hour and unable to find a cab. It was 5:10 p.m. My agent was hurrying me. I ducked into a doorway and held up the script, bellowing into my phone, trying to sound well-modulated and irresistible. Of course the script was to do with promoting tourism to the States. I e-mailed the test off, pointing out to the agent in my e-mail that the whistle sounds, car horns and sirens were all perfect ambient noise as I was in fact standing near 34 Street and Fifth Avenue. She found this very entertaining. I ran back to the hotel, got changed, rushed up to Lincoln Center, collapsed in my box seat (back row of the box thank goodness, so no-one could detect my breathlessness), and was swept up in the magnificence of Strauss's Die Frau Ohne Schatten. A totally wacky story line on paper made beautiful sense as it came to life on stage. I momentarily was swayed by sleep and remembered I had been up at 4 a.m. The opera was four hours long and kept me riveted. I collapsed into my bed near midnight.

And after a perfect sleep, I woke to the sound of a cello very sweetly playing. I couldn't make it out at first, but then realized it was an actual cello being played very near by. It turns out some sort of Italian youth orchestra was staying in the same little old hotel near Penn station.

A perfect day in NYC... IMO.

P.S. I got the voice over gig! :)

Quote of the Day (AKA "Nothing Much has Changed")

"'Very true,' said Henry, 'and this is a very nice day; and we are taking a very nice walk; and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh, it is a very nice word, indeed! - it does for everything. Originally, perhaps, it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement; - people were nice in their dresss, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is comprised in that one word.'"

From Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Weather in the 'Hood

 I'm staving off colds and coughs with my should-be-patented-cold-killing-system and great snacks at work.

In the meantime, the weather has been fantastically schizophrenic, with blazing sun some days, as I wondered the Victorian warehouse-lined side streets of my 'hood, and crazily snowy for mere moments in between. The snow shot is from my living room window.

Recent Bruce Adventures

At recent photoshoots in Toronto and New York, Bruce was helpful as usual. He even got to go to the opera. Pretty lucky bat!

I like this noirish shot of him on the left.

Friday, November 15, 2013

This is GOOD

I didn't expect this to taste so good. It tastes and smells of two things: chocolate... and Guinness. And the combination is fantastic! Nothing better for a Christmas stocking or two (including mine please!)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

This Made me Laugh

Directions for a restaurant in Venice...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Prince Edward County Visit, Part III

We hit the Cheddar and Ale Trail of the Bay of Quinte. Between wineries, breweries, cideries and cheese makers... we covered off most of the necessary food groups. Actually one of the wineries carried locally made chocolate, so... yes, all food groups ticked off. And several Christmas presents too!

The County Cider Company had lovely views across their orchards and the cider was amazing! A nearby apple stall had types of apples I'd never even heard of before. Apples are wonderful.

Vickie's Veggies... definitely worth a visit, and luckily for our host, it's just down the street from his cottage.

Looking up... at winery grapes...

... and lunch at the lovely Waupoos Winery.

The first building is the Gazebo Restaurant, filled with light, olive trees and a view of the lake and the vineyards. The next building is the store, and they had some amazing Belleville chocolate. More on that in a post closer to Christmas!

The bluer the sky got, the colder the weather. Even the short walk from the was chilling. But... we had a delicious lunch and warmed up thoroughly.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Prince Edward County Visit, Part II

The first day of touring around was cold and wet. Luckily we were just in and out of the car, and warming ourselves with tastings of wine, cheese and beer.

Black River Cheese
produced Canada's best three years old plus cheddar cheese at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, for their five-year-old.

We wandered bravely at Sand Banks Provincial Park (above) now closed for the season. I love this blustery, dramatic scenery.

The next day dawned sunny and colder. Very sunny (see left!). Very blue skies, which belied the nip in the air.

Our host had talked about Lake on the Mountain but it was even more spectacular than I imagined (see below). On one side of the road, you look nearly 62 metres down the Prince Edward Escarpment to the Bay of Quinte and, in the first picture, you can see the Glenora Ferry. On the other side of the road sits a road-level lake (second picture). It's a bit of a mystery, but the most common theory is that "it is a collapsed doline, an odd feature found in areas with limestone rock foundations." Also odd is that it has a constant flow of clean, fresh water but has no apparent water source. The local Mohawk called it Onokenoga, or Lake of the Gods. It's very still and feels quite magical. A nearby inn gives a picturesque opportunity to enjoy this site for longer than we did, but I believe it had just closed for the season.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Prince Edward County Visit, Part I

The height of fall colours is always a splendid sight in Ontario. But there's also a time just beyond their peak, when most of the leaves have fallen but for a few glowing yellow ones. The crowds of day trippers are mostly gone and the melancholy of a leafless November has not quite settled in. It was during this in-between time that four of us gathered for a weekend at the lakeside cottage of a friend in Prince Edward County, a part of Ontario I hadn't visited in decades.

My number one bliss - a fireplace - was evident when we arrived late on Friday night. That made me so happy. To sit and watch the flames, to poke it a little, to marvel at it... to think of the effect fire must have had on our ancestors, and to wonder at what a gift it was: light, warmth, weapon, cooking means. I can sit and gaze into a fire for hours.

I'd like to use my fire-addled brain as an excuse for me losing at chess!


As our minutes of silence begin at 11 a.m., my eyes fill with tears. I am grateful to those who fought and fight for our freedom, and appalled at our nature that so much fighting occurs. So many deaths, entire generations decimated for a bit of border shifting and a load of profits for a very few.

As for the whinging about red versus white poppies... does anyone really have time for this? The poppy is a symbol of remembering and honouring the fallen. 'Nuff said.

Recent Food

It's not the most amazing picture, but this moist, graunlar, not-too-sweet brownie at The Hot House was the perfect finishing touch on Thanksgiving Dinner (yes, we ate out). I'm still thinking about it.

Dinner at the beautiful condo with the step-down living room featured tender Italian tuna steaks. I provided dessert, a new cocoa-infused panna cotta recipe, but the cheeky monkeys wouldn't release from their ramekins, so I just dolloped the whipped cream, raspberry/kirsch coulis and chocolate shavings on top. Yum. And check out that cute espresso cup!

On a Sunday drive to Elora (saw the first snow - ugh), we stopped at a pub. I had a shamrocked bedecked Guinness... and almost enough gravy to sink the Titanic.

Cold nights = warm nights indoors. This lamb shoulder from The Healthy Butcher came out fork tender and fragrant with Persian-inspired spices. It went pretty fast.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bright Mornings

The time switched over a week ago. I felt it, like jet lag, but it made mornings so much better. Seeing daylight before work is good. Not seeing it much for the rest of the day, not so much. But it will make the advent of Spring the sweeter, as it always does.

And no, I'm not getting Instagram.

Hanging out Backstage

Oh hi favourite boots! I plan to wear you pretty much all winter. I wore them the first time this season hanging out backstage, where I got to catch some nifty angles.


Friday, November 1, 2013


I was at a wedding at the end of August, between two lovely young people involved in the classical music scene in the city: both talented and delightful. What struck me, apart from the expected pleasure (the beauty of bride, the emotions of the speeches, the joy of the crowd), was the musical selection. In my opinion, it couldn't have been done better. What made it more special was that the highly talented young opera singers who performed are all good friends of the bride and groom:

~ the processional music was "Soave sia il vento" (Così fan tutte) and then "Laudate Dominum" (Mozart)

~ during the register signing, it was Strauss's Morgen

 ~ the recessional was the love duet (piano version) from Götterdämmerung's Prologue

~ at the start of the reception the bride and groom danced to Ella Fitzgerald singing Night and Day

~ during a pause in the speeches, the groom told us that his new wife had always encouraged him to keep at his solo piano career; in her honour he played her favourite piece, Clair de Lune

~ An English language version of "Mann und Weib" (from The Magic Flute) used their names in place of "Mann" and "Weib" and opera singers popped up all over the ballroom to join in.

~ an e.e. cummings poem (used in Hannah and Her Sisters) was the reading during the ceremony:

somewhere i have never travelled,
gladly beyond somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond 

any experience, your eyes have their silence: 
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, 
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me 

though i have closed myself as fingers, 
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain,has such small hands

Total. Heartfelt. Perfection.