Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pogue Mahone, Toronto, ON

Gord, Sister Sarah and I went to Pogue Mahone this afternoon to see Sandy MacIntyre and Steeped in Tradition ... they play there every Sunday from 4pm to 8pm and admission is free.

Sandy MacIntyre (Cape Breton fiddle) is one of today's most prominent players and teachers of Cape Breton fiddling. He has also composed well over a hundred tunes, many of which have become classics of the Cape Breton style.

I've seen this band quite a few times and really enjoy them. They play mostly fiddle jigs and reels (which I love) with the occasional old twangy country song.

There was a good-sized crowd made up apparently of regulars.

We had supper there. Gord and I both had fish 'n chips which was delicious.

Sister Sarah doesn't eat meat and had nachos ... it was a huge meal!

There were Highland dancers ...

Like a true kitchen ceilidh, others jumped in to entertain .... some singers and some fiddlers to give Sandy and the others a break.

Here are me, Sister Sarah and Gord.

Always a fun time seeing Sandy MacIntyre and Steeped in Tradition!

Pogue Mahone Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

KC and I went for a walk this morning while Gord and Sister Sarah (she arrived in town yesterday from Halifax) went to yoga.

We got more snow overnight.

KC likes jumping around in the snow ... it was quite deep in some spots.

There is a lot of salt on the sidewalks, though. KC can't go too far without it bothering her feet. We have a few pair of boots for her but she hates them. It's a challenge to get them on her and she always manages to get at least one off when we're out.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Look who got a haircut!

I had a retirement seminar to conduct in North York this afternoon. I dropped KC off at the "spa" in our 'hood on my way.

I picked her up later on this afternoon.

Doesn't she look cute?!

And she smells so much better!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

East Coast Music Night, Sound Academy, Toronto

I'm on the elist for the Sound Academy. I got an email this week that I could win free tickets for tonight's East Coast Music Night. I entered the contest and won a couple tickets. To be honest, I think everyone who entered the contest "won" tickets.

No difference ... I'm from Nova Scotia so was happy to go.

The Sound Academy is the former "Docks". It's hard for Gord and I to get to as it's off the beaten path on the east side of the city ... we had to take a streetcar, subway, bus and walk to get there (about an hour). We took a cab home in less than 20 minutes ... definitely worth the $20!

Here's the view from the Sound Academy looking towards downtown.

We got there just after the doors opened at 8pm ... it was about half full.

There was a DJ who played music. Considering it was an east coast themed night, they played very few tunes from there :(

Randy from the Nova Scotia-based show Trailer Park Boys came on at 9:30pm. He doesn't usually wear a shirt and he was telling us that it was bothering his nipples.

Mr. Lahey, drunk as usual, came in through the crowd ...

They spent about 45 minutes on the stage.

The first five minutes was funny. The rest ... not so much. I think they are great characters on the show but they couldn't go it alone in a comedy act.

Nova Scotia fiddling legend, Ashley MacIsaac, came out at 10:30pm and played four songs.

I love fiddle music and really enjoyed Ashley ... I wish he could have played longer.

It is Ashley's 36th birthday today and Mr. Lahey and Randy brought a cake on stage for him.

Happy birthday, Ashley!

We left about 11pm when Mr. Lahey and Randy came back on. It was still packed!

We'd like to go back to the Sound Academy in the summer and sit on the patio with a couple beer during the summer.

Here's a video of one of Ashley's more popular hits from the past:

Fab Five lunch

I had lunch today at Bâton Rouge in the Eaton Centre with friends I used to work with.

Susan, Julie and Jen are still with the company ... Laura and I aren't. I left in in the spring of 2007 and Laura left last spring.

Here we are at just before we left ... Susan, Julie, me, Jen and Laura.

Isn't it great that we still get together on a regular basis and catch up? Susan is going to be a first time grandmother in about nine weeks ... very exciting!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crochet 101 - second class

I had my second crochet class tonight.

The project we started tonight is a hat/beanie. It's round and started from the top.

Here's what I accomplished after two (yes, two!) hours.

I finished to the end of row 6. Just 30+more to go ... sigh!

I had a hard time keeping track of the beginning of each row. I would sometimes keep going past where I was supposed to stop, slip the stitch and then chain a stitch to start the next row ... so I starting spiraling. So that meant I had to pull it out to go back to where I screwed up and start again. That happened many many times.

With knitting, I put a marker at the beginning of each row that I pass from needle to needle ... I'll have to pick up some split markers to mark the rows, I guess.

I don't think I'm a crocheter ... it makes me frustrated and cranky!

Crazy Lady is still around

It's been a couple months since I've talked about Crazy Lady ... I haven't seen her in a while.

She's still parking like (1) she doesn't know how to park properly or (2) she's inconsiderate and doesn't care that she takes up more than one spot.

This morning she was the only car parked against the wall where we usually park. She was in the first spot of the five.

And here she is ... the front part of her car wasn't even close to being in the spot!

But at least she wasn't hogging two spots as she usually does.

I parked behind her in the second spot ...

Yes, I physically get out of my car to make sure I park with the lines.

If she can't even park when she's the only one there, can you imagine what she's like on the road?!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Unknown"

Shawna, Trish and I love movies and try to get together and see one every month or so.

Tonight we saw Unknown with Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger and January Jones at the AMC (Yonge/Dundas E).

A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one, (not even his wife) believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is.

It's a good lively movie. The ending was a surprise to me and I found it believable. I'd recommend it if you want to see a movie ... or you can wait 'til it's a rental.

And here we are after the movie as we were saying our good-byes ... me, Shawna and Trish.

Trish will be heading off on a week kayaking adventure in Belize in a couple weeks ... doesn't that sound like fun?! Can't wait to hear all about it when we get together next month. And Shawna just got back a couple weeks ago from a week in the Dominican ... gotta go look at her pictures!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book ~ "Still Missing" (2010) Chevy Stevens

From Amazon ~ On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

Still Missing is that rare debut find--a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.

There are two stories that interwine back and forth throughout the book. One tells Annie's story of how she was kidnapped and the year she spent with "The Freak". He was definitely a nutbar!

The second story is how she tried to get her life back afterward. There are narratives when she is visiting with her shrink. In addition, it's her day-to-day life, interacting with her dog, family, friends and former fiance.

I enjoyed this book, though it's not a happy story. I liked the writing style and found that it moved along at a good pace. The ending surprised me and I bought it.

Excellent job by a first time author ... I'll keep an eye out for her in the future.

Crochet 101 homework

In our first Crochet 101 class on Wednesday, we learned two basics ... the chain stitch and the single crochet stitch.

Our homework was to make a dishcloth using these stitches.

I finished mine this afternoon and here it is ... ta da!

I only screwed up once ... in the third row I missed a stitch at the end of the row. I didn't notice it until row 10. You can see it at the bottom of the right hand corner. Ooops!

Instead of ripping it apart to row three to fix it, I kept going, knowing I wouldn't do it again.

I had to keep watching what I was I doing but once I got the rhythm, it went smoother.

Is pet health insurance worth the premium?

There is an article in today's Toronto Star about pet insurance.

I've never been pro pet insurance so haven't gotten it on any of my pets. I've been lucky in that none of them have had any serious illnesses or accidents.

Only one or two per cent of Canadian pet owners have pet insurance, but it is becoming more popular as veterinary medicine becomes more advanced and expensive.

Many vet offices have brochures that claim the security of insurance can reduce stress when emotional and expensive decisions arise.

However, some pet owners — unhappy with premium increases, rejected claims or reduced coverage — say they’d rather self-insure by tucking away money each month with the guarantee that when the time comes, they’ll be covered.

The article's author sought the advice of a dog owner and was told that she canceled her policy in favour of an emergency savings account which I agree with ...

Victoria took out a policy the day she adopted her Dalmatian but became fed up with rising premiums — which started at around $60 per month but increased to around $88 per month in four years — even as her insurer began to reject her claims.

“We were paying them thousands and we were paying thousands in vet bills that they wouldn’t cover... for $88 a month, you should be able to claim whatever.”

You can read the article here.

I'd rather deal with costs if/when they happen. If one of them has an illness and the treatment for it would be costly, my first priority would be how it would affect their quality of life. If it would make them better and they wouldn't suffer in the process, I'd find a way to pay for it.

Happy Family Day!

Today is a statutory holiday here in Ontario ... so we don't have to work.

Enjoy and go spend some time with your family!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Crocheting makes me cranky

I've always wanted to know how to crochet.

I've been a knitter for about 30 years. I've tried to learn how to crochet a few times ... but without success.

There is a knitting shop in my 'hood that offers lots of workshops. I signed up for the four week Crochet 101 course and it started tonight.

Our extended crochet program is for those who want to get a rock solid foundation in this lovely craft. In these 4 classes, the basic stitch patterns will be practiced and perfected. Students can try out their skills on either a series of crocheted washcloths (very functional favorites) or a scarf project. Circular or 3D crochet forms will also be covered and applied to a basic hat pattern. Learn how to follow along with a crochet pattern (both written and charted); abbreviations are decoded and mysteries are revealed. Students will learn how to add beautiful lacy edges, embellishments and finishing touches to all their pieces knit or crochet.

Tonight we learned two basics ... the chain stitch and the single crochet stitch.

At the end of the two hour class, here is my dishcloth.

Yes, that's it!

I found it awkward and was getting frustrated and cranky by the end of the class. There are eight women in the course and there was one who was even more crankier than I was because she couldn't get passed the chain stitch. Ha!

I have to have my dishcloth finished by our next class ... sigh! In the next class, we are making a hat. Oh dear!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Book ~ "The Sentry" (2011) Robert Crais

From Amazon ~ It’s a routine Southern California day when former cop and sometime mercenary Joe Pike intervenes to break up the gang shakedown of a sandwich shop. The shop is run by Dru Rayne and her uncle, Wilson, two refugees from Katrina starting a new life. The chemistry between Pike and Dru is immediate, prompting him to keep an eye on the store; the gang leader, Venice Trece, will surely return to deliver revenge. But as Pike and his sidekick, private detective Elvis Cole, soon learn, nothing about Dru and Wilson adds up. Even as he’s negotiating a truce with the duplicitous leader of the gang, Pike learns that Dru is likely not the innocent she seems. The latest Pike novel is a testosterone-fueled caper with tough guys doing hard things to bad people, but it doesn’t pack the emotional wallop of Crais’ best work. High-Demand Backstory: Crais’ last Joe Pike novel reached number two on the New York Times best-seller list; longtime fans may find this one not quite up to the author’s high standards, but the demand will still be there.

I love Crais' Elvis Cole series ... he is private detective in Los Angeles. Crais' last couple books have focused on Joe Pike, Elvis' best friend. While I like Pike, I find the tone of the books so very different. Whereas Elvis is funny and quirky, Pike is so much more serious. I like Pike better as a "sidekick".

This book was okay, not great. I wasn't buying that Pike would put his life on the line for Dru, a woman he just met. though he had an instant connection with. Even after it seems that Dru isn't as innocent as he thought, Pike still continues to track down the bad guys to save her.

I found the back story kind of boring and wasn't feeling an emotional tie to the characters.

I'd recommend this book but it's not as good as Crais' past stuff since I'm more an Elvis fan.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snowshoeing on the Toronto Islands

Gord and I decided to go snowshoeing on the Toronto Islands this afternoon.

To get there, you have to take a ferry to Wards Island (the eastern end of Centre Island). During the summer, the ferry goes to three points (Wards Island, Centre Island and Hanlan's Point) ... in the winter, it just goes to Wards Island. Here's comes the ferry!

Much of the harbour is frozen and the ferry has to plow through the ice. You can hear the ice being crushed and even feel a jolt at times. Lots of fun!

Here are me and Gord on the ferry ... it was cold and windy on the water.

Here's the path of where we'd come.

We're heading into the ferry dock on Wards Island.

We've arrived on Wards Island.

There are about 260 homes on the eastern end of Wards Island.

This looking across the harbour at downtown Toronto.

Some kids were playing hockey on one of the lagoons.

We walked along the wooden boardwalk on the south end of the island for a while. The waves were awesome!

The boardwalk ended and the snow got deeper so we put our snowshoes on and continued to follow the water.

We are getting closer to the pier.

Here's Gord showing where we were just before we got to the pier ... we had started on the left hand side (the furthest ferry on the left).

We took our snowshoes off when we got to the pier and hung out there for a while. It was windy and cold ... invigorating!

No one is swimming there today!
And then we headed back.

We walked back along the road and then hooked onto the boardwalk.

We stopped at the Rectory Café, which is about five minutes from the ferry.

We had a glass of wine and split a delicious Roasted Chicken Club Sandwich (Roasted Chicken with Garlic Aioli, Bacon, Romaine & Tomatoes on Toasted Multigrain) and mixed greens salad.

The Rectory Café has an awesome patio ... we'll be back to check it out when it's patio weather!

Time to head back home. This picture was taken on the ferry as we were heading back to the city ... keep in mind that the ferry had just gone through here about 10 minutes earlier and it was freezing up already!

We walked/snowshoed/walked about 5km ... a very fun way to spend the afternoon!