Saturday, July 31, 2010

road trip!

Well, slept in, painted, read, read to youngest, bought books, an iPod for Eldest and embroidery floss for youngest, no food, nor shoes, but then we got together with BUDDIES!!!!


That was cool, we wandered around High Park, the kids swam, we didn't watch cause we had to have a shower just to sit on the pool deck, so instead we sat in the change room and yacked.

Now, now now now now, we're off to visit Oreneta!

Hope she's doing fine, I'm bringing the camera.

Hope you're all having a great weekend,

Ours is shaping up well,



Friday, July 30, 2010


OK, so here's my plan:

Sleep in.


Walk Chuck

Make and eat pancakes.

Buy an iPod for eldest, groceries, embroidery floss for youngest and maybe some shoes for me.  Bring Chuck

Buy ice cream.


Visit a friend if I can get in touch with her.



Drive up to visit ORENETA!!!!!!

Sleep over there on my beloved boat.


Then there'll still be two more days.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Weirdness follow-up, House Hunters International has contacted us AGAIN to see if they could do a show.  Think not.  Though maybe the architect and builder would like it if we did, make their careers, no?  If we like the job.

While listening this morning to a brilliant podcast, it struck me that it might be nice to share; so here are some of my favs:

WNYC Radio lab, cool thought provoking, slick, witty and funny, all you'd hope for from something out of NYC.  I particularly loved their show that I listened to this morning on memory.

A Way with Words, that Beth recommended, a big fat thanks for that one.

I adore the Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers, all about books!  Then there is Quirks and Quarks, also from CBC.

The Guardian Book Podcast is also pretty darned good, out of the UK.

Then there is a new strategy I have, when I wake up in the night and can't sleep cause I'm fussing about something, or just can't get my brain to settle down, I turn on the iPod really really quiet and listen to interesting, but not toooooo interesting podcasts.  My favourites are Excess Baggage, Coast and Country and Scotland Outdoors, all from the BBC.  I enjoy these podcasts when I am awake too, but something about those British vowels discussing lovely walks through the damp and green countryside sends me right back to sleep.  Lovely.

Finally, if you want to hear free books on podcast, CBC has Between the Covers, which has novels serialised into 20 minute segments, some abridged, some not.  Mostly Canadian literature, which I humbly submit is some of the very best in English in the world right now, but some others as well too.

Anyone else out there listening to podcasts?  Which do you like?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Take me out to the ball game...

Yep, I went to the ball game this evening, Jays vs the Oriols, not exactly going for the title, but it was a good game nonetheless, especially since the good guys won, and we got a home run in the 9th with a guy on first and second.  Nice way to end the evening.

The odd thing though was parking.

I drove down, which seems a might mad, but I had some reasons other than a passion for sitting in traffic.  When it came to park I came to a favourable looking lot, and turned to go in, but couldn't.  The two guys, you know, parking lot guys on game night, you know the kind.  Lord only knows where they go for the rest of the time, maybe they're the same guys who squeegy your windscreen at red lights.  Anyway, the guys wave me around the corner.

The parking places they are heading us for are the private, heavily sign posted NO PARKING private spots of a small office building.  Ummmmm.

They directed me into a spot, wanted ten bucks and gave me a little yellow slip of paper to put in the car.

Really,  these guys looked totally seedy.

I asked them if this was legal, the convincing part was when one of them said there were much better ways to steal than stand around in the rain for ten bucks a car.

Solid point.

I left the car.

What was interesting to me was that I had considerable misgivings about parking the car there.  Even when they asked me to wait while another woman parked, I had ample time to leave.  The first spot the directed me to I didn't fit in, again, I nearly left.  What I again find odd is that I didn't.

Eventually I left the car, parked in a very marginal place legally and next to a totally seeding park.  Not a super safe place to return to - granted that as the game came out, I knew there would be TONS of people around for that short period of time anyway.

Why then did I leave the car?  I certainly had no reason to trust these guys, all my instincts were singing out that it was a bad idea, I figured it was a 50 − 50 chance the car would be towed, and still I parked it there.

It was oddly conflicting.  They guys were good at it.  They were brusque and efficient, while still being humourous and just convincing enough; but I owed them NOTHING, and had a fair amount to loose if they were scamming me, not just the money for parking, but the cost of the tow and the hassle.

It wasn't politeness so much, though that was an element, it was partially that they were working so hard at it, and were fairly efficient, they gave (barely) credible responses to my questions - stating that they worked for the building who were making a little money on the side on game night - and commented to each other that they had to keep certain spaces open for people working there, and called a spade a spade when I asked about legality - stating straight out there were better ways to steal.

Still, I remain amazed that I parked the car there against all my warning signals.  I am not overly polite (though I am Canadian) , I owed them nothing, they would not have suffered in any way if I left, there was a line of cars coming in for the space, there were plenty of other why?

Something to ponder over for the next little bit.

Oh, and the car didn't get towed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Whoever said that men cannot multi-task should watch a soccer/football players feet.  So said Eldest.

I got another example today.

I was sitting in traffic, AC on thanks to the new rental waiting.  This HONKING big dump truck pulls up beside me, the driver leans out and waves madly.

I rolled down the window thinking he needed advice/I had a madman in the backseat/there was something hanging out of the trunk...... he says, "You look pretty good, can I have your number?"

Like the style, no?  Direct, to the point.  Why waste an opportunity?  Lots of women in traffic jams too...why sit around in your car/truck/monster machine idly missing the chance to meet Ms Right?

Ah little boy, did your mama know you were out?

Monday, July 26, 2010

blog blogblog blog

Don't really like the work is kind of ugly, no?

This is a word I do like the sound of, obovate.  Nice huh?   Oblong sounds pretty good too.

How about this one, resorcinol?  Fun little work out there.

Isthmus can be amusing to say...




what words do you like to say?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What do you think of all this?

I am honestly reposting this, I have to get up in five hours, so I looked through some of those draft posts, and I found this.  I think it is actually pretty cool and will be the most amazing mine of information for historians, social scientists and artists for years to come.


By Stuart Woods on Quillblog
One of the factors that makes Twitter so addictive is the fleeting, transient nature of the tweet: shortly after appearing online, your 140-character post will be more or less forgotten, consigned to oblivion.
That is about to change, however, with the announcement that Twitter is to become the “official social network of record” now that the U.S. Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, has acquired the entire Twitter archive. According to the LoC blog, the library will archive every tweet ever posted by Twitter’s 105 million users, a tally numbering in the billions. The acquisition will add to the LoC’s already extensive collection of “born digital” materials. From the LoC blog:
[I]f you think the Library of Congress is “just books,” think of this: The Library has been collecting materials from the web since it began harvesting congressional and presidential campaign websites in 2000.  Today we hold more than 167 terabytes of web-based information, including legal blogs, websites of candidates for national office, and websites of Members of Congress.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Driving with Eldest

I've been logging some hours with Eldest in the car these days, and it turns out that Eldest is in fact a suburban middle aged white guy with a preference for beer and pick-ups!

No sh*t!

Her preferred radio station?  You got it, Q107.  For those of you not from TO, that is the 'classic' rock station.  They played it all, Supertramp, ACDC, Dire Straits (which they NEVER would have played back in the day) ZZ Top, Bowie in the Ziggy Stardust era, the Stones. She was even marginally impressed by my ability to name the song and band within a few bars.

The weirdness is that I don't like it much myself, and would NEVER listen to it on my own, preferring some of the newer music, but talking books if I have my way.....

You know what else?  Q still has the same announcers, which is kinda cool, must be a decent place to work, but Galleger, Maureen, and Kim Mitchel have been there since Moses was a baby, honestly, they've got to be pushing 60 by now.


Another observation from the road, has anyone else laid eyes on that Flex thing Ford put out, Yeah, there's the car for me, (NOT)... I've always wanted to drive around in an undercover hearse.

That is one weird car, from the side, hearse; from behind, a mini on steroids.

Ugly ugly ugly.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

House update photos.

New dining room floor, not fully mortared

Know that photo into Youngest's room I keep showing? The man took one that is similar, here it is:

You won't be able to see that upper window once it's finished, there will be a floor over those beams.  They are busy plastering now, wiring and plumbing is in.  Wow.  Moving fast they are.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Canvas a day

As you may have noticed, I've been working on the canvas a day project for a while now, not sure I want to look how long, but more than a third of a year.

My only frustration with it is time, I keep on ending up cracking open the painting equipment at about 11:30 at night.  You know what, it's hard to produce anything worth looking at at that time of night.

A while ago I bought a beautiful pin from a fabric artist.  I get compliments on it regularly.  On her site she credits her success with this:

Show up every day
Pay close attention and
Follow the prompts

Meg Hannan

The canvas a day project is an attempt to keep up with just the first part of that.  Hoping that from time to time parts two and three will follow, cause at least I showed up.

Right now, here in TO, I'm at 7 canvases a weekend, if I'm lucky.

Not quite what I had in mind.

Ah well.  It'll have to be three canvases a day in the fall to catch up, no?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Books you might recall.

Barbara Kingsolver, possibly my favourite author has one the Orange Prize for La Lacuna, which I just read and A.D.O.R.E.D.  ADORED it.

Last year Marilynne Robinson won for Home.  Possibly my favourite author, but not my favourite title by her.

Maybe I should just start reading the Orange prize winner's books, no?


Monday, July 19, 2010

Couple of things

Since I got here:

I've been seeing a whole lot of friends and hanging out with them.

I've been spending a whole lot of time in traffic, that hasn't been so much fun.

The canvas a day project is struggling for survival, more like seven canvases a weekend....that isn't so much fun

My reading has gone waaaay downhill, which is bitterly ironic as I am now in the land of millions of books I can read, and no time to read them.

I have finished one other book, that I was going to add onto the list I have put up there, and there are two books I've started and not finished.

That book I did finish though?  I CANNOT remember the title, the plot, the characters, nothing.

Not one thing.

This is probably not a good sign of a great book.  I do remember quite enjoying it, but the title?  I finished it on Thursday night!  How can I have forgotten already?

Good lord.

Me, or the book?  Therein lies the rub.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Peregrinations of a pot

One of the funny side stories of the photos the man is sending me, is the toilet.  There used to be a toilet out back, you had to go outside to get to it, and we fairly rapidly took it out, it will form part of the dining room and a storage space at the back of the house.  The guys who work there however needed a john, so they left it in open air kinda loo.

Then suddenly the can decided that it needed to check out all that was going on in the house.  It was fairly conservative at first and stuck with what it knew.  First it headed into the new downstairs toilet and hooked itself up.

That seemed a little dull though, so it came out to the living room for some company....and to help out, holding down some new floor tiles...

Went back into the new loo after that excitement....

Snuck out again, you can just see him in this photo hanging out with the bricks and night!

In hiding....

Visiting our upstairs bathroom, and looking kinda a time out it would seem.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dozy summer day...

I had ambitious ideas for today, really I did.

Then I woke up, torpid and sluggish.

Staggered along behind the dog when I took him for a walk and puttered about for the morning, tried to paint, crashed.

Three and a half hour nap.

When I woke up I was all bewildered and languid, it made me think of a line from a Gerrald Durrel book where he describes his family, after their siesta, as buzzing dazedly as heat-drugged wasps.

Back to bed by 9:30pm.

Such a lovely lazy day.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I have been all holier-than-thou in Spain about the waste in the school system there, as we have to buy all new text books every year.  Some friends were even telling me that the schools chuck out all the chalk every year, even if it's brand new, and all the reading books from the classrooms.

I was struck dumb with horror.

Imagine my horror when I looked into a local school dumpster the other day here in TO:

There must be over a hundred children's books in there, in good shape too, except for the garbage since launched onto them.  There is chalk, never used, cds, etc etc etc.

Not even offered to charity.  Just dumped.

What are we leaving for our children?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My construction guys....

are wizards.

OK, you've heard me grumble about them more than once, but these guys...they are really really good at what they do.  Sometimes it's not quite clear enough what they should be doing, but they are good.

A couple of posts ago...most of that floor was torn up in big fat strips.  Now it looks a good as new, indeed, the man says it looks better in real life than in the photos.

They can't read this, but THANKS GUYS!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Coffee SNOB

That would be me.

I was never much of a coffee drinker before I went to Spain.  That would, indeed, be a WILD overstatement.  The only coffee I drank in TO was iced Vietnamese coffee in a great Vietnamese Pho store....

Then I went to Spain....goodness gracious me, but I love the stuff, thick, strong, dark hellish brew, but not as bitter with chicory as the French....

SOOOOOoooooo good.

Today I was out and about and came across a coffee truck.  Sounds bad I know, but this one is run by a Cuban guy using Cuban beans.  Well, the other really excellent coffee I have had in North America was in Miami Beach in a tiny little hole in the wall that what it's called if it is all take-out?  They sold a Cuban espresso...that was to. die. for.  Black jet fuel sweetened with cane syrup.  OMG.

The coffee truck gave me the idea that maybe, just maybe, a cuban coffee would be a possibility.  I asked him if he made them, he offered me cafe con leche.  I should have known at that point.

I got the coffee with milk...took a sip, walked far enough away he wouldn't see, and I am ashamed to say, I poured it out.  It was WAY too big.  WAY.  and weak and watery and had this weird sort of sharp heat.  Not the mellow loveliness I am used to.

Coffee snob.

I'll have to wait till I'm back it seems.

At least the tea's good here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Afghan snowshoe naan from Flatbreads and Flavours

Yesterday my students and I made Afghan snowshoe naan from Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford's cookbook, Flatbreads and Flavours.  Fabulous and oh so easy.

I sent off an e-mail to Naomi and got her permission to post the recipe if anyone wants to cook along with my bread a week project.

Here we go:

2 and a half cups luke warm water
1 ts dry yeast
2 cups hard whole wheat flour (bread flour)
3 to 3 and a half cups hard unbleached (if you can get it) white flour
1 tbls salt
Scant half ts nigella - if you can find it.

You will need a large bowl and unglazed quarry tiles to fit on the rack of your oven...they work like a pizza stone, but are cheap.  Failing that, a cookie tray upside down will work.  The tiles are simply clay tiles that are not glazed at all, so they feel a little gritty to the touch.  Like those tiles you see on Spanish houses.

Place the water in a large bread bowl, add the yeast, and stir to blend.  Add the whole wheat flour and stir well.  Then stir 100 tiems, about 1 minute, in the same direction to develop the gluten.  Cover this 'sponge' with plastic wrap - or put it in a grocery store bag and close it up and let it stand for 30 minutes to 3 hours.  I like to put it on the back of the fridge, a little warmer and less likely to get spilt.

Sprinkle salt over the sponge, then add 1 cup of the white flour and stir well.  Continue adding white flour half a cup at a time and stirring until the dough is too stiff to turn.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead thoroughly, sprinkling more flour on if it gets sticky (this time of year, when it is so humid, I needed to do this a lot, the flour was damp and didn't absorb the same way). After you turn the dough out, put your bowl to soak in the sink. It is thoroughly kneaded when it is smooth and easy to handle, maybe about 10 minutes.  Rock your body as you knead rather than push with your arms.  Much more comfortable.

Clean out the bowl, and oil lightly.  Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap - or put it back in the grocery store bag, and let it rise for 2 or 3 hours, until more than doubled in volume.

Gently push down the dough and turn onto a lighty floured surface.  Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and shape each into a flat oval shape approximately 6 inches wide by 8 inches long.  Cover with plastic wrap (or those grocery bags inside icky ink) and let rise for approximately 20 minutes.

Place quarry tiles (or your upside down cookie sheet) on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1 inch space between the tiles and the oven walls to allow air to circulate.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Five minutes after the oven has reached 450F, begin shaping the first bread.  Place a small bowl full of cold water at the edge of your work surface.  Dip your fingertips in the water and then, beginning at one end of the disc of dough, make tightly spaced indentations all over the surface of the dough so that it is deeply and uniformly pitted.  Now, with wet hands, stretch the dough into a long oval strip by draping it over both hands and pulling them gently apart.  Attractive stretch marks will form where the dimples are, hence the name snowshoe bread.  There may be a few holes in the bread, do not worry about that, it will be slightly crisper in those areas.

Place the bread back on a work surface and sprinkle with a scant 1/8 ts of nigella.  Then, using both (wet) hands place the bread on the heated quarry tiles, and bake for about 4 minutes until the bread has golden patches on the top and a crusty browned bottom surface.  While the bread bakes, shape the next bread. 

To keep the breads warm and soft, let cool for 5 min and then wrap them in a cotton coth.  Serve warm or at room temp.

Post a pic if you make it?  I'll link to you, m'kay?

Good luck!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Back years and years ago...

honestly YEARS ago I used to make bread quite a lot.  I loved making bread.  The kneading of the dough, the scents, the magic of the bread rising, the warm bread straight from the oven. Utter heaven.

Then we moved on the boat - no oven.

Then we moved to Spain - no oven.

This year, for the course I am teaching, we are making bread every week....and I get to test run it before I am making bread twice a week.  Super yummy.

This week, Afghan naan.  I am taking the recipes from Jeffry Alford and Naomi Duguid's cook book Flatbreads and Flavours.  I love the book, and I love the breads.  They write the CLEAREST recipes and with explanations that anyone can follow.  Plus, because the breads are from traditions I am not so familiar with, I am more forgiving about how it turns out.

Always edible though.

Want to bake bread along with me?  I wonder if I could post the recipes...with credits.  Alternatively you could bake your own favourites and we could compare pictures!

Summer seems an odd time to be doing this, but it is so very very good.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

copa, lliga, champions i copa mundial!




Saturday, July 10, 2010

If you are in TO, or visiting TO or think you could afford to visit TO this summer....

GO, NAY RUN, NAY GET THEE to the Dream in High Park's Romeo and Juliet.

It was fabulous, absolutely wonderful.  Very accessible and very very well acted by most of the players, Juliet, the Nurse and Mercurio was also brilliant.  Such a lot of fun.

It's shortened down to 90 minutes and geared to a family audience...they get a laugh in the first few moments.....

You need a blanket, get there around 6pm with a picnic and a friend, a sweater for the evenings and limber legs.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Internet was down last night, so here's a quick update for today...on the house!

A couple more photos of the house from yesterday...

this is the girl's bathroom...there are two doors, so they can access it from either room....right here, all you can really see is the doors.

This is the new window in the dining room looking onto the patí and the kitchen window.   The other photos wouldn't load, so that's all I've got...

Somehow this won't center up properly, Blogger seems to have a whole lot of attitude do my kids, it all fits in!

Hope you have a good one!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Je je je je je je je je je je je...

They pulled their crap together....they're pros...

and Pujol....a defence.....ticked with this fancy work by the forwards....nuff of that was something like his fifth career goal....and a very nice one, thank you very much!!!!

Listen here while you watch it here.

Nicely done.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The man sent these photos today, they've taken down the wall in the living room...much nicer, despite that drain pipe I hate.

The view from the landing into the livingroom.

The new dining room out back coming into form.

Not too shabby on the whole, no?

Monday, July 5, 2010

What is THAT all about...

This morning I went in to pick up some bagels at a much recommended bagel place near where I work.  The bagels looked pretty tasty, there was a good variety and a fair crowd.  All good signs.

The creamed cheese looked amazing, all the right kind of stuff.

Then I went to pay.  Well, I don't know who p*ssed in her cornflakes this morning, but my oh my oh my.

For 8 am that was some serious cranky pants she had on.

What's with that???

Like I am supposed to know by intuition what payment methods are available in your store?

SOOOO sorry.

Don't worry though, I won't be back.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I don't know what possessed me

On the first day here, in full on jet lag mode blended neatly with overwhelming book lust, I hit the library.

It was actually somewhat epic.  Seems I had 2 bucks or so in library fines.  Sadly, I had just been a good citizen and dumped most of my change in the parking meter, so could not pay the fine.  Also I needed to renew the card, and the only piece of information with the relevant address on it was over a year old.

They didn't accept it.

I went home, somewhat despondently and got a new document -  rummagerummagerummage - and went back.

Finally, the Toronto Public Library card that I frankly LOVE and cherish was renewed.  Ecstatically I hit the stacks and checked out about 10 books.

Never in my life have I run across a stack of ten more dismal books.

I have no idea what happened, but they are dreadful.  I am currently, and with absolutely no enthusiasm slogging through Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters, a "#1 BESTSELLER"

I loathe it.  I keep giving it a try, but honestly.  I grant I am only on page 129 or 469, but if I am still hating it unremittingly by page 129 it is not a good sign.  The characters are chiefly repugnant, or so vulnerable and ill-used that it is agonizing, there is neglect, selfishness, craftyness and whining.  UGH.

No idea what happened to me, but jet lag does not seem to be all that good for my book selection skills.

So here's the question....

What is the last book you read that you hated...or the book you hated MOST of them all.....

C'mon, let's here 'em....

what was the worst, and why.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I need your help ladies and gentlemen

We used to keep the boat in Florida, and there were many many wonderful things about the chance to spend time in inland Florida...a fantastic place.  We made good friends, we ate fantastic Mexican food, we saw lots of cows and oranges, and we got hot hot hot hot hot.

The boat yard had a machine with cheap kids still closely associate boatyards, heat and Florida with root beer.  Me too.

What I really loved though, really really loved....

Sweet tea.

Ya know what though, I come from the wrong part of the world to make it right.  We have iced tea and all, but it is soooo not the same....

so folks, it's getting hot here, and I'm craving me some sweet tea....

really, gotta get me some, 

so those of you who know how...

help me out, please... a recipe!


Friday, July 2, 2010

Went sailing

Good gracious, how I love it.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day all....

What a lovely day it was.  Spent it with kids, and friends and dogs.

Sadly, not with the man who is still stuck in Spain.

A fabulous day nonetheless.  Tea and chat and fireworks and food.