Monday, 18 February 2013

Notes from the Waiting Room

Let’s be rational here, I argued.  Do we really have to set the alarm for a Saturday morning? To say I was so far ahead of the game Friday night, I disappointed myself by shifting the alarm from 7:30 to 8 to 8:30 and finally to 9.    I felt buoyed.  Round II of the paintwork out of the way by Friday at 7 so managed to salvage the evening.
An encore of Q, with Ghomeshi championing Canadian books through the annual Canada Reads“How quietly Canadian,” he mused.  Surprise, still, after all these years at seeing the nation get excited over reading.  There was a comment from a US listener who said something to the effect of where but Canada can you find a Reality show about books?  So hopefully you’ve got all the titles on your reading To Do list?  At the very least the winner-February by Lisa Moore.
The Sisters Brothers is going well-enjoying that there’s room for men to pay attention to oral hygiene and dieting during Gold Rush times. Just tapping into the Stoppard.  The theatre tickets have arrived and I’m patiently waiting for the season to begin.

 A lineup presents the perfect people watching moment.  Noon hour on a Saturday at the Ministry offices are a hotbed of activity.  You have the whole of humanity laid out before you.  People watching does speed things along.

 A man stood sentry dressed in balaclava, fireman’s jacket and boots.  I thought he was promoting something but I think that due to the amount of clothing he couldn’t move his arms properly and had been patiently waiting for someone to open the door for him.  Cold temperatures were predicted but not for another fourteen hours.  He seemed a little over dressed.  Good to be prepared, I guess.

Children running amok bouncing up and down on the fragile perimeter heating; parents oblivious. Crowding of personal space; anything to have some semblance of movement.  Ear budded people looking serene. Couples canoodling.
A man kept checking the front of the line which meant he had to lean over the shoulder of the woman in front of him.  He was not familiar with the concept of the watched pot.  The woman toted a file folder teeming with paperwork and it looked as if she could do with a good night’s sleep.  Another man gave his hair a comb every ten minutes; the stress of the line-up manifesting itself as unruly hair.  Choice of ring tones varied from the call to prayer to guitar riffs to just a plain old ring which is rare these days.  What does your ring tone say about you?

It came as no surprise that the personal space invader was ill prepared for the transaction.  He was shocked to learn he had a parking fine from 2011. He selected savings instead of chequing.  (Is  there really any difference between the two anymore?  Interest rates being what they are.) He wasn’t sure if he wanted one or two year renewal and so on.  Patrons were getting restless. 
I focused on my thighs-yes, the thighs.  In the yoga sense.  I’ve been doing yoga for nigh on seven years now.  Take this tip for the next time you have a long wait.  Push down with your feet into the floor to engage the thigh muscles.  Do not slouch, do not lean against the counter, do not try to balance on one leg.  Works brilliantly.  I felt like breaking out into song at one point just to stir things up a bit.  A one woman Flash Mob.  I wanted to say to those complaining that it’s your own fault for getting there at noon on a Saturday.  The place has been open since 9AM.

I considered the last 24 hours.  Readers still upset at McKay’s editorial cartoon of the outgoing pope getting coffee and a muffin at Tim Horton’s.  I knew the second I saw it that there would be a flood of letters to the editor.  Relax people, it’s a cartoon; this is not an attack on your religion.

The asteroid (meteor).  I bet Putin was more concerned that this was going to land on his beloved Olympic park than anything else.  Am I wrong? The Sunday Edition closed with a piece on the Bolshoi.  Dangerous business running a ballet in the modern Russian age.  It’s still tinged with communist leanings.  The person to be publicly held responsible for the acid attack will not be the one who actually committed the crime.  The modern KGB is not actually investigating this which speaks volumes.

Bad news on the book front, Nicholas Hoare Books in Toronto are closing their doors     April 1.  One of those oldy-worldy shops.  Classical music and wooden floors-what’s not to love?  Now where do we pit stop on Front?  If you’re visiting the Hamilton area, try Bryan Prince Booksellers or A Different Drummer Books in Burlington.  (I coveted the Beatrix Potter box set that used to sit on the top floor.) Hoare will be retiring to a very comfortable estate in Nova Scotia so don't feel too badly for him. He intends to set up a library and vineyard amongst the three hundred or so acres.  What of his employees, though?

At the dealership earlier that day:  “And do you know your license plate number?”  What should have been said was just “What is your license plate number?” 

Shared a laugh with the clerk over the wait. We couldn’t help but listen in while others tried to make payments.  “This is why it takes so long,” she explained. 

I tackled a little more of Apartment Therapy. Is there anything more exhilarating than vacuuming and dusting into the late Saturday evening hours?  I predict no more clutter in the hallway.  You can’t give up newspapers, magazines and books but they do take up real estate.  I brought Spring Cleaning forward by two months and the sense of accomplishment feels good.  My soundtrack?  Rage Against The Machine, Joy Division, Tony Bennett (Lady Gaga has gone up in my estimation-Lady is a Tramp is a great duet), Martha Wainwright, Pearl Jam and The Tragically Hip.  Eclecticism never goes out of style. 

Forced a G & T.

The blue sky was a dead giveaway-Arctic conditions on a Sunday AM.  I saved myself a trip to the esthetician because several layers of skin had burned clear away with the cold when I eventually stepped outside. Bore witness to a rainbow in the West so that was something.  Another point for February (that’s three if anyone’s counting).

No holiday for The Widget Maker so was in full Sunday Evening Wind Down Mode.  Determined that Thursday at 10 PM is my point in the week when I go into weekend mode. It’s the last time you clock-watch for a few days. 

Cannot remember if an answer was given as to what exactly is Family Day.  For those of you at home with the family, enjoy.

Post Script

I'm still striving to rationalize a nine hour day on a Stat holiday.  One good thing to come out of it was lunch at August 8 on Wilson Stin Hamilton.  Excellent sushi.  $14.99 all you can eat menu that you don't have to line up at a buffet to participate in.  The usual suspects but the highlight (and purpose) of the trip was the pork dumplings. Will be returning.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Aftermath

Finally able to leave the chiropractic table.  The grader came by a total of five times and as you know, if you don’t get out straight away and dig out you’re left with a three foot wall of ice.  Storm Watch began Thursday.  A customer and I shared in the hope that a Snow Day was on the horizon.  Not to be; his Widget Maker and mine do not believe in snow days.  We commiserated Friday morning.  I felt that the call may have come about 7AM.  Alas.  And so mid afternoon, with a foot and a half of snow already settled in the parking lot, the Widget Maker and I dug out a path to the road and tackled the snow bank waiting for us.  Yes, the grader had been by twice by 14:00  What are the chances? 

I’d like to send a shout out to the driver of the green minivan who sat idly by in the comfort of his warm vehicle and watched as the two of us dug out the lot and the snow bank.  I felt like abandoning my vehicle and going back in the building to see what green van was going to do about that.  At least offer to participate in the clean up;  don’t just swan out of the lot on the back of someone else’s labour.  And I’m also looking at the driver of the multi-story SUV.  Assess the situation and stop driving for a moment.  If you keep driving, you’ll hit me.  Thought for the day:  always look into your turn.  Now when you are 15 feet up overlooking traffic, regard for the safety of others may not be uppermost in your mind.  (I’m supposed to be keeping my blood pressure down but it is challenging with Yo Yo’s on the road.)  The fun continued with a few feet of flakes on the drive.  Ah, the kindness of strangers and their snow blowers.  Only had to dig out one third of it.  Ran the hot water tank dry with a marathon shower and promptly collapsed in the chair.
Medicated myself with back issues of The English Garden and fine Gardening.  Magazines for property owners who hire people to do the gardening for them. 
I checked out the back pages-vacation packages in  18th century farmhouses of Normandy or 18th century vicarages in the South East of England.  I pictured my humble garden underneath the snow and wondered if I could apply any of the principles to my own plots.
What a treat to have blue skies and sun ALL day Saturday. Freshly fallen snow has its own unique charm.  A landscape free of foot prints is a treat.  I woke at seven and enjoyed the quiet while I dug out, again.  Set out on the walk.  Double workout as the sidewalks were in an appalling state and the citizens let it be known they were not amused.
Picked up my books-on tap this week are The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt (which is a very recent title considering my track record), Joanna Trollope’s Daughters In Law and Travesties by Tom Stoppard.  I missed this play when it came through town a few years back. The Widget Maker contracted pneumonia and insisted on coming in.  GRR.  He very graciously shared his microbes thus rendering me unfit for anything.  Something about men and colds, flu and assorted ailments;  they simply refuse to acknowledge the symptoms and carry on like there’s nothing wrong. I digress.
Also looking at Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant (edited by Jenni Ferrari Adler), In Pursuit of Garlic by Liz Primeau and (in light of the gardening magazines) Elizabeth David’s A Taste of the Sun(French & Italian cuisine).  More about these later over on Frederick. 
Note:  it's an intimate look at garlic!
Aerosmith flooded the street.  All heads turned to find out where it was coming from.  A motorized wheelchair appeared on the horizon.  Where people will install thousands of dollars worth of stereo equipment in their beloved car, this owner had done the equivalent to his ride.  Like car owners with their stereo cranked, this guy showed equal disregard for those around him.  Most amusing. Here are a few highlights from town.
City Hall.
Idle No More had set up a teepee on the lawn.  I expected drumming but it was very quiet. 
The very fine Duke Street listed buildings.  One is up for sale;  not sure what they’re asking.
Some nice paint work adding a splash of colour. 
Central School and the old Girls entrance. 
McNab Presbyterian.

Charles Street cottages.

Whitehern-former home of the McQuesten Family.

The gardens and house are open for tours.  Xmas time is a good season to go as the house is decorated in period style.  Whitehern hosts Easter egg hunts and Strawberry Socials in the garden.
St. Mark’s Anglican, now boarded up save for one window.  Council doesn’t know what to do with this but have several proposals in their Adaptive Reuse Study-conversion to three apartments, retail, or tearing it down.   The pigeons have found a home. I like the plans for the apartments.  Stained glass would be a nice feature in a condo. 

Behind the modern monstrosity below lies a hidden gem.

A former private estate built in the style of a Scottish Baronial Castle.  It has long been divided up into private apartments and the garden is now a parking lot.  Alas. 

If you're going to duplex things, please try to retain the character of the place.

Clock was ticking and it was soon time for the much anticipated, inaugural pork tenderloin, courtesy of The Pater.  (But first, more digging out!)  After much moaning and complaining, dinner was declared a success.  Cocktail hour, soup, roast pork and sticky toffee pudding.  Excellent meal.
Sunday wind down with CBC.  Interview with Jeet Thayil.  He was filling in for Salman Rushdie at the Jaipur Festival as there was yet another price on Rushdie’s head and Wachtel conducted the interview under armed guard.  What we won’t do for our career.  Thayil spent twenty years as a heroin addict and has lived to tell the tale as an award winning writer.  Interesting piece. 
Valentine’s Day approaching; what’s in the VCR?  Best Intentions-the story of Ingmar Bergman’s parents.   She was from a upper-middle class family; he a humble postman.  Very nicely done.  Also, The English Patient and Truly, Madly Deeply by Anthony Minghella.  Will have to put these into a Chestnut post. 
Finished the day with the Glen Woodcock show on 91.1.  The Big Bands of Quincy Jones, Harry Connick Jr., Tony Bennet, Duke Ellington and so on.  Naturally, all programming is Valentine's Day themed.  Another thought for the day:  you don't have to wait for this one day to do something nice for your partner.  What of the other 364 days?

I'm recommending Truffle Pig by Hagenborg chocolates.  Made in Canada. Lots of flavours;  this one's P B & J.  I like the image of the pig nestled between two slices of bread inviting you to wallow in chocolate.  Try the bubble gum or mocha.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Emerson-always the right words for a snow storm

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, arrives the snow.

Come see the North wind’s masonry out of an unseen quarry.

So fanciful, so savage.

And when his hours are numbered and the world is all his own

Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art.

The mad wind’s night work.

The frolic architecture of the snow.

The Snow Storm, Ralph Waldo Emerson
(with apologies)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Doctor Is IN

For those with issues, I'll be offering withdrawal support services a la Lucy of Charlie Brown fame. (Of course, the rates have gone up.) Group sessions available.

I'll be discussing:

~the ON button is also the OFF button.

~the concept of the queue and how to join one

~trust 101; we will call you back

~recognising the land line as a legitimate tool

~how to spot when your call has gone long; that hour long call where you repeated the same 5 minute conversation over and over again in the restaurant is not welcomed on a lunch hour

~how not to broadcast calls; this is not tin cans and a length of string-you don't have to speak up

~tips on how not to telephone your contact within five minutes of sending an email to find out if they're working on said email or have in fact, miraculously, completed your request

~how not to ignore internal calls while you juggle call-waiting on your cell

~that delayed gratification is so much sweeter than instant

~that it's always better to let people get their coat off and get comfortable before you bombard them with questions or comments

~tips on accepting that there is no one to take your call at this point in time; it's OK to leave a message; see trust 101

~that meeting we mentioned? it's legitimate and calling the cell will not get you a faster answer-only voice mail

~how to recognize that the person answering the phone may just be able to help you thus negating the need to call a cell to source an answer

Thought for the day: Spare yourself the gadgets and spare the rest of us too.

Try the following:

The January Cure from apartmenttherapy No need to own an apartment.  And it's only a weekend, people.  Naturally being the anachronist I am, I'm just getting to January 1st now.

To quote from the site:

While you may find it uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, you will inevitably find yourself with time that is unfilled and now yours to spend in new ways.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Tour of the Neighbourhood-Chrysanth Show (III)

Spring-like conditions one minute and the next we're plunged right back into our sixth week of Canadian winter. Here's a winter warm up.

Not to be trifled with...


The Serpent...


Did he or did he not see his shadow?

Frosty AM.  Thought I was dreaming, but no, the morning show was talking about Rob Ford again. Campaign mismanagement this time.  Hardly rousing commentary making it a challenge to get up.  No consensus on the groundhog front.  Early Spring? Time will tell.

Spent the weekend trying to get rid of pennies. Today is the last day for the Canadian coin.  We are now rounding up or down. I’ve rolled many a penny over the years.  Hours of filling the little paper tubes and what do you have?  About $3.50 And so late Sunday afternoon in the grocery store, I carefully counted out pennies and offered them up to the clerk. 

At this point we were in hour three of pre Super Bowl ramble. Shopping carts jammed with corn chips, guacamole and pepperette & cubed cheese trays. (Note to self:  clear office fridge of leftover Xmas pepperettes .)  I was the odd person out with vegetables and juice.  It’s always been a curiosity of mine as to why people eat when they watch television?  Same goes for movies.   The Sunday Edition had a piece with Malcom Gladwell in which he stated that all football fans are complicit in the suicides of players. Hmm. 
I was still digesting Friday’s Thai.  Excellent meal at Miss Thailand in Stoney Creek.  They had the heat on in both the kitchen and dining room.  So nice to have a warm dining room.  Had lunch at The Vicar’s Vice, also in the Creek.  Vicar’s is a converted church with a cavernous, draughty dining room.  The food arrived tepid and got cold fast.  Vicar’s has been striving to be a Gastro-Pub for a few years but never quite got there.  The menu has been revamped  and it seems like they are well on their way to being able to use Gastro as a tag line.  Good carrot and maple soup.  Hot soup is a big deal for me.  Not many restaurants give you hot soup-fear of lawsuits a la Tim Hortons.   Excellent atmosphere at the Thai. Good satay, rolls, mango salad, green curry and spicy chicken.  Maybe a little too much heat in the curry.  It had been a while since I went with a spicy dish.  Very nice presentation.  Curry came in a porcelain lidded bowl and the sticky rice in a little lidded bamboo basket. 
Sluggish start to Saturday (I blame the Thai).  The point in the week when you realize it’s the weekend-what a moment!  Not quite a fry up but close.  One egg in the house, week old mushrooms and bacon and a box of frozen pancakes.  “A box of frozen pancakes?”  you say.  Consider for a moment how many containers, pans and utensils for a couple of pancakes.  Sometimes we have to go the frozen route.  Cobbled together what turned out to be a good breakfast.  Paper read front to back-first time in four days.  Gary McHale defending his Queen’s Jubilee medal-I’m still not sure why he got one.  Time to clear the cobwebs.
Q graced Hamilton with its presence once again.  Ghomeshi was very positive about Hamilton describing us as a “victim of eons of misconception”.  Quite so.  The Widget Maker  is taking up residence in Hamilton-the North End in fact.  They are looking forward to the Harbourfront, the shops, the restaurants and so on.  I find this a very refreshing attitude.  Spread the word.
Set off in the falling snow-delay tactic on the chore front.    Like the North End, the East End receives its share of bashing . Everything looks spruced up with a dusting of snow, though. 

Davis Creek, North & South...

Stoney Creek and the battlefield grounds...

Raccoon or possum tracks?

I see the signs warning against no tobogganing seems to have had the desired effect. The grounds have only just been re landscaped and there were lots of people sledding down the hills during our last snow. Nothing worse come tourist season than to see great strips of earth where there should be finely manicured sod.

Whether you're E, N, S or W, if you're feeling under appreciated, get out and find your local nice spots.

Looks like a fine sunny Monday. The moon is out and a crisp morning is one of the things we should be striving to appreciate.