Friday 29 February 2008

Book ~ "Murder 101" - Maggie Barbieri (2007)

From ~ Alison Bergeron, newly divorced English professor at St. Thomas College, is having a difficult time. Someone stole her car, so she has to walk to the train station for the commute to work. Once there, she finds two homicide detectives waiting in her office to ask why the body of one of her students is in the trunk of her car. Trying to remove herself from the list of suspects is not easy. She also has to deal with the distraught family of the dead student, bail her ex-husband out of jail, and grade final exams for her Shakespeare class. For some reason, those boring exams are the object of a great deal of attention. As if that weren't enough, one of the homicide detectives, Bobby Crawford, is taking a romantic interest in Alison, and the pompous college president may decide that her involvement in the case is bad for the school's reputation. This is an entertaining debut and a series to follow for fans of gentle academic mysteries.

This wasn't a bad book but it certainly wasn't a great book.

I found Alison extremely wimpy at times ... she faints and barfs non-stop. Yet off she goes putting herself in danger at others. The extremes are too much. And her ex-husband, Ray, is a dog yet she still helps him when he gets arrested and she has the patience, after all he had done to her in the marriage (which she continuously whines about), to be nice and polite to him. And her best friend, Max, is just annoying!

And the ending (solving the murder) was pretty blah.

I would read another in this series but I wouldn't go looking for it.

Sunday 24 February 2008

Snow away!

Gord and I awoke this morning to the sound of "Beep ... beep ... beep".

Then we remembered that the City had posted notices that they were clearing the snow from our street.

Click here to see our street last week.

They towed away the cars from the south side and then cleared it.

Then they moved the cars from the north side to the south side ...

And then they cleared the north side ...

Then they'll bring back the cars from the south side and put them on the north side.

Saturday 23 February 2008

Book ~ "Into the Wild" - Jon Krakauer (2007)

From ~ After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature. Krakauer retraces McCandless's ill-fated antagonism toward his father, Walt, an eminent aerospace engineer. Krakauer also draws parallels to his own reckless youthful exploit in 1977 when he climbed Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border, partly as a symbolic act of rebellion against his autocratic father. In a moving narrative, Krakauer probes the mystery of McCandless's death, which he attributes to logistical blunders and to accidental poisoning from eating toxic seeds.

Interesting story and I'd like to see the movie.

Book ~ "Another Shot: How I Relived My Life in Less Than a Year" - Joe Kita (2001)

From ~ As he approached 40, veteran journalist Kita decided to revisit his greatest missed opportunities. It's a terrific conceit and, within the limits of his 20 specific regrets (from "losing my hair" to "working my life away"), Kita pulls it off with wit and aplomb.

After two months of conditioning, he works out with his alma mater's high school basketball team and is told that this time he wouldn't have been cut. He and his wife attend a workshop for lovers (for which he happily paid $1,000 and would do so again before spending another $10 on a Viagra pill), allowing them to have "the best sex of our married lives and with each other, no less." They also renew their vows in a ceremony far more satisfying than their overstressed wedding. Even when his quests don't pan out, Kita finds peace: so what if he can't recover that first Camaro or if that woman he was too shy to approach in college won't return his letter?

Basically a happy guy, Kita doesn't often stray toward seriousness, though he laments not having said good-bye to his father, who died at 62 (and tries to revisit him via a psychic); he also takes a day trip with his Mom to try to repair some long-standing rifts. In his conclusion, Kita lists some regrets he hasn't yet pursued that might make for a deeper challenge.

This book caught my eye at the library ... it sounded like an interesting premise.

I enjoyed the writing style and the stories. I'd definitely recommend it!

My favourite missed opportunities? Chapter 16: Not being a real man (he did a survival camp ... I can't imagine being left alone for two days!), Chapter 18: Mistreating a dog (made me hug my dog and cats), and Chapter 19: Not having a hero (he worked out with Jack LaLanne).

Would I want to relive any of my "missed opportunities"? No way ... my experiences are what make me who I am today. How about you?

I'll leave you with a quote that resonnated with me from his story about trying to find his first car ... I'll have realized a long time ago that it's only where you are and where you are heading that matters. So true!

Thursday 21 February 2008

Queen Street W fire

There was a major fire just east of Bathurst and Queen Street W early yesterday.

Buildings were burned to the ground, businesses are closed, residents left homeless and Queen Street W is closed. Thankfully no one was seriously injured. They have yet to determine the cause.

KC and I took a walk over there this afternoon (about 15 minutes east of us). It was very sad to see the destruction of these old historic buildings.

There were lots of people lining the north side of the street (including me with my phone) taking pictures.

Here comes the sun

I had to be in Niagara-on-the-Lake this morning around 8:15.

It was still dark when I left home.

By the time I got to Stoney Creek, the sun was blinding but beautiful!

I was driving 120km on the QEW when I took these pictures (through a dirty windshield).

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Lunch with Deb

I met my friend, Deb, today along with her colleague, Peter, for lunch in the BCE foodcourt.

Deb and Teena

Peter and Deb

As always, it was fun to catch up with Deb!

Then I met up with Gord and spent his lunch with him before heading home.

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Can you spot Byron?

When I got home this afternoon, I threw my coat and jacket quickly onto the couch.

Five minutes later I was going to put them away ... but there was a kitty already settled in.

Needless to say, I waited 'til he moved.

Jury duty

Remember the notice I got in January advising me that I had been summoned for jury duty?

I got a call while I was on the cruise that it was cancelled.

Today would have been the day I had to show up to see if I was eligible.

Instead the day is mine! Mine!


Monday 18 February 2008

Family Day

Gord and I drove the Hamilton to spend the afternoon with Ken, Gord's son.

We first saw a couple movies. Gord and Ken saw Rambo (I had no interest in it) and I saw The Bucket List.

Corporate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic,Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find the joy in life.

I liked The Bucket List. It is a cute movie and a good reminder to live each day as if it's your last ... find joy and provide joy.

After the movies, we had a bite to eat at Montana's Cookhouse.

Ken, Teena and Gord

Driving back to Toronto, we ran into a snowsquall.

Ten minutes later, there was no sign of it. We have enough snow already, thanks!

Sunday 17 February 2008

My toy boy

Morgan is a toy boy ... Byron not so much.

For the last couple weeks, Morgan has been digging under the fridge.

In the past, I had put packing tape across the bottom of the fridge so he couldn't knocked his toys under the fridge. This tape is now ripped and needs to be replaced.

He's been a maniac every time he heard the fridge door open. He would run over and drive his little arm under the fridge.

It had gotten to the point of being very annoying because we've had to push him away to avoid crushing his skull when we close the door.

This afternoon I pulled the fridge out to see what has been obsessing him.

In addition to dust, there were 17 soft toys and 5 plastic toys (with bells inside)! I threw the plastic toys out (they are dangerous if we step on them in the dark).

Some are really nasty ... who knows how long they have been under there? The fridge hasn't been pulled out in two years.

But Morgan's happy and not being a spaz anymore.

Friday 15 February 2008

Book ~ "Stone Rain" - Linwood Barclay (2007)

From Goodreads ~ Metropolitan newspaper writer Zack Walker has a knack for stumbling onto deadly stories. But it’s one that his good friend Trixie Snelling doesn’t want told that’s about to unleash a storm of trouble. As a professional dominatrix in the suburbs, Trixie has her share of secrets, but Zack has no idea what she’s really hiding when a local newspaperman threatens to do an exposé on her…not until Zack finds a dead body strapped to the bondage cross in her basement dungeon.

Now Zack is implicated in a murder, Trixie is missing, and everything he thought he knew about his friend, his town, even his own marriage, reveals a darker side. Zack’s twisted trail to the truth will lead to a long-unsolved triple homicide, bikers, drug wars, and a stone-cold killer hell-bent on revenge. It’s a story that’s already cost him his job and possibly his wife, and, if Zack’s not very lucky, it will cost him his life.

Another excellent book in the Zack Walker series. The suspense and comedy are still there.

I'm definitely enjoying this series and look forward to reading the others from this Toronto-area writer.

Donating mittens

Remember the mittens I had knitted the last couple of months?

I donated them this morning by putting them in the Oasis Clothing Bank box that is at the grocery store we go to.

There were eight pairs and, with the cold weather we've been having, I hope they can make use of them.

I'm going to keep making mitts and hopefully I'll have quite a few pair to donate at the beginning of next winter.

Book ~ "Bad Guys" - Linwood Barclay (2005)

From Goodreads ~ Zack is back, and much to his family’s relief, the work-at-home science-fiction writer has left the house to take a job as a features writer for the city paper. But now that Zack’s incessant plotting can no longer be hatched from the comforts of his own home, he must be ever more vigilant to outwit the evil at large, whether in the suburbs, the city, or his own imagination. Zack is ready … or so he thinks.

While researching his first feature article, Zack stumbles upon a real-life crime scene, but what seems like an ordinary hit-and-run may actually be a homicide linked to a gang that’s been burglarizing Crandall’s high-end shops. Suddenly Zack finds himself at the center of a violent crime wave and destined for a confrontation with Barbie Bullock, an unsettling figure infamous in the crime syndicate for his ruthless business tactics and peculiar proclivity for collecting dolls.

And all is not quiet on the home front either. Zack’s protective instincts launch into overdrive when he discovers that his daughter’s rejected suitor has been tracing her every step and may harbor a much more ominous motivation than winning a Saturday night date. Nor does his son’s strange behavior and recent friendship with a creepy computer recluse inspire joy in a father’s heart.

As worlds begin to collide and boundaries between family and foe blur, Zack goes on the attack, and heaven help the bad guys when this resourceful father comes to make good on a deal gone bad.

This is the first book I've read by Barclay and I really enjoyed it. I'm into mysteries and this was comical too. The writing style is quick and funny and I look forward to reading the others in the series.

Wednesday 13 February 2008

The day after

Hard to believe that this time last week I was sitting in the warm clear waters of Klein Beach with a rum punch in my hand!

We have a lot of snow after yesterday's storm.

Our terrace

Our street

Our street

Our parking lot

Our parking lot

Tuesday 12 February 2008

More snow!

I had to drive to Aurora (north of Toronto) for a couple hours tonight. And it was in the middle of a snowstorm ... our third this month!

What should have been a 45 minute drive took me three scary slippery hours!

I started on the Don Valley Parkway but got off at Bloor an hour later (it usually takes me 10 minutes to get that far). Traffic was crawling and I figured I'd be better off driving through the City.

When I got home, our parking lot wasn't plowed and I barely got into our parking spot. I slid into it crookedly but got stuck on some ice so left it as it was. It's a good thing our neighbour wasn't home or I would have slid into her car.

It was initially forecast to be a minor system with only five to 10 cms but most areas received about 20 cms.

Sunday 10 February 2008

Back to reality

After spending a week in 30C temperatures on the cruise, it's not hard to tell that I'm back home in Toronto. Here are some pix from today.

There were some snow storms while I was gone and the temperature right now is -30C with the wind chill. Brrrr!

Saturday 9 February 2008

Old San Juan

Because we had a couple hours from the time we had to leave the boat 'til our flights left, Sister Sarah and I did a bus tour of Old San Juan.

Our first stop was a quick one at the Capital Building.

Sister Sarah

We spend some time at Fort San Cristóbal.

There's Sister Sarah (in fuscia) climbing!

Views from the Fort:

Our boat
Capital Building
Christopher Columbus Statue, Columbus Square

The streets are really narrow!

We ran into Christina and Dennis

Then we were off to the airport to catch our flights home. Though the U.S. Airways website said that my San Juan to Philadelphia flight was going to be five hours late (good thing I sent Gord a text message when I got there because it left on time!), I actually got in early to Toronto.

It's always nice to get away ... but it's good to get home again too.