Friday, 7 December 2018

John Prine, Sony Centre, Toronto, ON

Gord and I saw John Prine this evening at the Sony Centre.

Prine is an American country/folk singer-songwriter who has been around since the early 1970s. I've been a big fan since the 1980s and have seen him a few times in concert.

Langhorne Slim opened for  him ... I wanted a teeshirt, though, and the line-up was quite long so we only caught the end of his last song.

Prine came out at 9pm and played for almost two hours to a packed house! He sang mostly songs from his latest album, Tree of Forgiveness, along with some of his older songs which the audience knew and sang along with.  His four band mates left him for a while and he sang some songs by himself and told some stories.

It was a fabulous concert.  Alas, he didn't sing Illegal Smile or Please Don't Bury Me.

The Hot House Restaurant & Bar, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had tickets to see John Prine this evening.  Our friends, Malcolm and Mary, also had tickets.  We met for supper beforehand at The Hot House Restaurant & Bar (Church Street/Front Street).  It was a busy spot!

I ordered what I had when I was there last month ... Lasagna Al Forno.  It was good ... even better than last time.  Mary also had it and enjoyed too.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Jessy's Pizza, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at Jessy's Pizza (on Dundas Street W/Roncesvalles Avenue).

Jessy's Pizza is the largest locally owned pizza franchise operating in Nova Scotia (the first location opened in 1992, a few years after I moved away).  They opened this first location outside of the Maritimes about a couple months ago here in Toronto (this location).  I'd stopped in for a donair a couple weeks ago and felt like having one again.

We both got large medium donairs ... mine had meat, tomatoes and donair sauce and Gord's had meat, onions and donair sauce.  I liked that the meat was thickly cut (some places here in Toronto cut it up small and fry it to heat it).  Our donairs were really saucy and messy.  Gord ate his on a plate with a fork (he doesn't like messy food) and left the wrap (there was a lot of meat!).  I ate mine as they are supposed to be eaten ... picked up like a sandwich.  My hands and face were full of sauce but I enjoyed my donair ... needless to say I used a lot of napkins!  The large donair is quite large and I'd stick with a medium one next time.

Book ~ "Peggy's Cove: The Amazing History of a Coastal Village" (2008) Lesley Choyce

From Goodreads ~ Here is the complete history of the famous cove and the unique village that hosts thousands of visitors each year. The story begins with the formation of the rocks along these shores and the impact of the glaciers. The Mi'kmaq were the first to live here in the summers, harvesting the riches of the sea. A land grant in 1811 brought the first hardy settlers, who built homes and wharves and discovered that the sea could provide bounty but was also a source of great danger.

The story includes the origin of the name, Peggy's Cove, and details about the everyday life of nineteenth-century families living here. A history of the famous lighthouse is included and there are excerpts from many of the famous and not-so-famous visitors who have written about the Cove through two centuries.

The author explores the most damaging storms and the shipwrecks, the reports of sea monsters and other strange phenomena. Fishing was always a source of income, but it changed over the years. At times the fish prices were so low it was not worth the effort and, in recent years, dramatic changes to the ocean have seen the collapse of several important species of fish.

In the twentieth century, Peggy's Cove attracted artists, writers and ultimately thousands of tourists. Sculptor William de Garthe made his home here and created his monument to the coastal fishermen out of the sheer granite outcropping in his backyard. In 1998, Swissair Flight 111 crashed off the shores of Peggy's Cove and the community opened its doors to the world in an effort to provide support for the rescue workers and the families of the victims. From the earliest days to the present, the story of Peggy's Cove has been a tale of natural wonder and human endurance. 

I'm originally from Nova Scotia and have been to Peggy's Cove many times over the years.  This book caught my eye because I thought it would be interesting to learn more about it.

The first chapter in the book is called "A Gift from Africa".  Huh?  Well, that caught my attention right away.  Nearly 500 million years ago, in the other side of the Atlantic, deposits of sand and mud became compacted beneath the ocean and eventually helped form the coastline of the ancient continent of Gondwana.  The sand and mud became compressed, forming shale and sandstone.  Then 100 million year later, a collision occurred and 50 million years later, Peggy's Cove was then near the equator and still recovering from the collision.  After another 50 million years, Gondwana moved east and south and rock was dragged and dropped along the way, creating Nova Scotia.  So what was left that jammed into North America was originally part of Africa.  Interesting, eh?

The author then continues to tell about the first families who lived and settled in Peggy's Cove, how it got its name, how it has grown and thrived throughout the years, the ups and downs of fishing industry, rum running, the lighthouse, deaths of people getting too close to the edge of the rocks, the SwissAir Flight 111 crash, how it has developed into the tourist destination it is today, and more. 

I liked the writing style.  There was a lot of history and information provided but I didn't find it boring or too detailed.

I read the digital version of this book and was surprised that the illustrations and pictures were removed.  So if you are going to read this book, I recommend that you read a printed version as there are apparently pictures, etc. in it. 

Here are some pictures I took when I was there a couple years ago:

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Book ~ "Cat Champions: Caring for Our Feline Friends" (2013) Rob Laidlaw

From Goodreads ~ Around the world, young people are making a difference in the lives of cats. 

In "Cat Champions: Caring for our Feline Friends", meet kids who are helping at shelters, fostering kittens, volunteering with sterilization programs, and caring for abandoned cats. 

Animal advocate Rob Laidlaw brings readers a hopeful, inspiring look at the issues facing domesticated and feral cats, and the "Cat Champions" who are working to help them. 

Informational sidebars throughout the book describe issues facing cats ("The Cat's Out of the Bag") as well as good-news feline facts ("The Cat's Meow"). Filled with colour photographs and real-life stories, "Cat Champions" will inspire and empower readers of all ages. 

At the Toronto Street Cats shelter building workshop on Saturday, volunteers were given this book.

The chapters include:

  • The world of cats
  • It's an alley cat world
  • Shelters, people who care 
  • Becoming a foster parent
  • Adopting a cat
  • Raising funds and telling the world
  • The cat lover's pledge

In the back of the book there are a list of resources and links so you can get involved in cat welfare (Toronto Street Cats got a mention in the book and is listed as a resource) and a glossary.

Though written for children, I found this book to be fun and interesting.  The information is in bite-sized chunks and there are lots of colourful pictures.  There are stories about children making a difference in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.  I would think (and hope) they would be inspiring to other children.  There are also stories about cats like Tuxedo Stan (who ran for mayor in Halifax, NS), Scarlett (who saved her kittens from a fire in New York City and was burned in the process) and Simon the War Cat (back in the late 1940s, he lived on a British naval warship).

Monday, 3 December 2018

Book ~ "You're You" (2017) Mette Bach

From Goodreads ~ 17-year-old Freyja is outspokenly lesbian and politically active about LGBTQ issues at her school's Gay-Straight Alliance. When her girlfriend Rachel breaks up with her, she suspends her work on the online video blog they created together to celebrate their pride. Instead she starts volunteering at the local food bank. 

But she can't figure out why the team leader at the food bank, a guy named Sanjay, doesn't seem to approve of her.  Freyja learns about food justice and becomes attracted to Sanjay's passion for the cause. As her friendship with Sanjay grows, she realizes that they connect in a way she never did with Rachel. 

But can Freyja be in love with Sanjay if she identifies as a lesbian? 

When members of her school's GSA assume that Freyja has "gone straight" and oppose her leadership of the group, Freyja has to choose between sticking with her old idea of herself - and taking a chance on love. 

Freyja and Rachel are in their last year of high school and in love ... in fact, they have an online video blog celebrating it and encouraging others to be open about their preferences.  When Rachel abruptly breaks up with her, Freyja is heartbroken.  Looking for another cause to lend her support to as she heals, she starts volunteering at a local food bank.  She is attracted to Sanjay, the team lead, and the feeling is mutual.  Freyja, though, fights her feelings because as a lesbian, how can she be falling in love with a guy?!

This is the third book I've read by this author.  It is written in third person perspective from Freyja's point of view.  Though I'm assuming it is written for the young adult market (so I'm not its demographic), I liked the story and the writing style.  As a head's up, there is "adult" activity so perhaps the book is for a more mature young adult.

SingleSwag - December 2018

Last month I kept seeing ads on Facebook and Instagram for a subscription box called SingleSwag.

Every month, enjoy full-sized, hand-selected products exclusively for fun and fabulous single women. 
  • Organic beauty fun
  • Trending fashion accessories
  • Delicious snacks and treats
  • Best selling books
  • Other surprises

Despite the name (I'm not single), I checked it out.  It sounded like a fun subscription box so I got a six-month subscription.

You can get the SingleSwag (receive 6-7 full-sized products every month for $224.99US for six months) or the SingleSwag Petite (receive 3-4 full-sized products every month for $139.99US for six months) ... I ordered the SingleSwag.  Shipping is free in the U.S. but there is a shipping cost for them to send it outside the U.S.  The link I went through gave me a discount and it ended up costing me $261.50CN for six months ($43.58CN per month).

My first box arrived today.

I like the positive messages on the box

Here's what I received ...

Cafe Neon, Toronto, ON (Wallace)

I had lunch today at Cafe Neon (on Wallace Avenue, west of Lansdowne).

I ordered a Neon Burger (with no onions or lettuce).  I made it a combo by adding fries and a Diet Coke.  I got the burger cooked medium and it was a good burger.  The patty was juicy and flavourful.  I've had it there before and liked it.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Book ~ "Turning Secrets" (2019) Brenda Chapman

From Goodreads ~ Former teenage runaway and new single mother, Nadia Armstrong, moves to Kingston to turn her life around. But six months after she rents a low-end apartment, her body is found on a concrete slab at an isolated construction site.

Major Crimes begins piecing together her last days, uncertain if this is a case of suicide or murder. To make matters more difficult, a member of the team is leaking information to reporter Marci Stokes, putting Staff Sergeant Rouleau in a precarious position.

Meanwhile, Officer Kala Stonechild’s niece, Dawn, is secretly corresponding with her father, who’s out on early parole. Dawn’s friend, Vanessa, is also keeping a dangerous secret - her relationship with an older man named Leo, who preys on young girls. And it’s not long before he has Dawn in his sights.

Nadia, a young single mother, is found dead at a construction site and at first everyone assumes it's suicide.  But as the Kingston police start to investigate, they suspect she's been murdered.  As they dig into her background, they discover she has a past doing drugs and prostitution.

Police officer Kala Stonechild is taking care of her teenage niece, Dawn, while Dawn's mother is in prison.  Dawn's father has recently been released from prison and heads to Kingston to connect with her before he heads east to get away from some guys he owes money too.

Kala is attracted to a fellow officer (and the feeling seems to be mutual) but things are complicated because his ex-wife has returned to town and is living with him.

Dawn's sorta friend, Vanessa, has been acting funny since she started dating an older guy named Leo.  Leo has a friend who would like to date Dawn but she's creeped out and not interested.

This is the sixth (and latest) in the Stonechild and Rouleau series and I enjoyed it.  Though it is part of a series, it works as a stand alone and you don't need to have read the previous ones to read this one (there is enough background given).   It's always nice to read a book that is happening in Ontario (these characters live in Kingston and the author doesn't hide this fact).  I liked the writing style and found the storyline interesting.  It is written in third person perspective with the focus on the various characters wherever the action was happening.

I look forward to reading future books in this series and by this author.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

"It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play", Lower Ossington Theatre, Toronto, ON

This evening Gord and I saw It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.

Faced with a life of dreams deferred, George Bailey sets out to throw himself from a bridge — until a dotty angel-in-waiting shows him what might have been. Don't miss this beloved holiday classic, brought to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast!

Revisit Bedford Falls, fall in love again with George and Mary, and discover the magic of an angel named Clarence! It’s Christmas Eve in 1947, and inside a radio studio, a live broadcast brings to life Frank Capra’s timeless film in all of its feel-good glory!

Be a part of the live studio audience and join the cast and crew as they take you on a journey through the most important evening in one man’s life. It’s the perfect holiday outing for the entire family and, who knows, an angel might even get his wings!

It is playing this month at the Lower Ossington Theatre, which is in our 'hood.  We've seen it there the last two years and enjoyed it ... it's become a tradition for us.

The play takes place on Christmas Eve 1946 in New York before televisions were in every household and people listened to radio for entertainment.  The premise of the play is that five actors are performing It's a Wonderful Life and it's being broadcast live over the radio ... and the audience watching the play is the audience for the live broadcast (we were prompted to clap when the "Applause" sign lit up).

The actors were good and we enjoyed this production.  They started playing their roles as actors right away.  "Freddie" wandered around the audience before the "play" started chatting with people.  They all played various parts and were continuously switching back and forth between characters and voices.  Vince Deiulis, who played Jake Laurents who plays "George" played the same character two years ago at this theatre.

It was interesting to watch them as actors playing actors of a radio show.  There were even two "commercials" during the broadcast.  The sound effects were imaginative ... mashing Corn Flakes for the sound of walking in snow, etc.  Even though the play was supposedly being broadcast on the read, the actors still physically acted it out to some extent.  At times, I closed my eyes so I could experience it as a radio show.

I'm looking forward to seeing it next year!

Cat Shelter Building Workshop, Toronto Street Cats, Toronto, ON

From 10am to 2pm, I was at a cat shelter building workshop organized by Toronto Street Cats ... I'd attended my first one two weeks ago.   It's so nice helping the kitties in Toronto keep warm and dry during the cold winter.  My friend, Darlene, is a "lead" (so instructs everyone on what to do).

Our mission: improve the lives of Toronto’s homeless cats by offering spay/neuter services, free for feral cats, and building overwintering shelters. We are also working to increase public awareness about Toronto’s homeless cat population and the importance of spay/neuter and trap/neuter/return (TNR). 

We are part of the Toronto Feral Cat Coalition, working together to implement strategic TNR programs to sterilize Toronto’s feral cats, decrease shelter intake and reduce euthanasia rates.

The workshops are held throughout the fall and winter season in the garage of the Toronto Humane Society  The shelters built are then made available to caretakers and colonies in need for $15. 

Today was maxed out with about 50 volunteers.  Our goal was to build 125 shelters ... 151 new shelters were built, 46 used shelters were stripped bared, cleaned and prepped ready to build next time and loads of straw given away for free (for folks to replenish their existing shelters)!

Kevin and Kali got everyone signed in

Insulation was cut for inside the bins.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Chuck’s Roadhouse Bar and Grill, Cambridge, ON

I had lunch today at Chuck's Roadhouse Bar and Grill ... they opened about five weeks ago.

I ordered the roast beef dinner.  I asked Lina, my server, about it and she said it was freshly made so how could I resist?!  I'm glad I got it as it was delicious!  The roast was tender, the mashed potatoes seemed home-made and the gravy was good.  The corn was was the weakest part as it was a bit soggy ... maybe replace it with frozen peas?  I'd get this again.

Lina was friendly and took good care of me.

Chuck's Roadhouse Bar and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Homewood Suites by Hilton, Cambridge, ON

I spent last night at the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Cambridge.  It is just off the 401, east of Cambridge.  Missy checked me in ... she was friendly and welcoming.

A complimentary light supper is served during the week (the menu varies ... last evening it was soup and salad with grilled chicken) and you can buy beer or wine.  A complimentary breakfast is provided.

Here was my room ...