Saturday 31 August 2013

Morgan's birthday supper

We don't give the kitties soft food very often ... usually just on special occasions.

Today is Morgan's birthday so they had a special birthday supper!

Extra meaty cod, sole & shrimp dinner ... yum!
Of course, Crumpet gets some too!
Morgan ... nom nom nom
Crumpet ... nom nom nom
Empty plates ...
Crumpet and Morgan ... happy bellies!

Happy birthday, Morgan!

Book ~ "The Dog Lived (and So Will I)" (2012) Teresa Rhyne

From Goodreads ~ The tale of a dog who wouldn't let go and the woman who followed his lead.

Teresa Rhyne vowed to get things right this time around: new boyfriend, new house, new dog, maybe even new job. But shortly after she adopted Seamus, a totally incorrigible beagle, vets told Teresa that he had a malignant tumor and less than a year to live. The diagnosis devastated her but she decided to fight it, learning everything she could about the best treatment for Seamus. Teresa couldn't possibly have known then that she was preparing herself for life's next hurdle -- a cancer diagnosis of her own.

She forged ahead with survival, battling a deadly disease, fighting for doctors she needed, and baring her heart for a seemingly starcrossed relationship. The Dog Lived (and so Will I) is an uplifting and heartwarming story about how dogs steal our hearts, show us how to live, and teach us how to love.

Teresa was in her forties and a twice-divorced lawyer who was hanging out every second weekend with Chris, who is more than ten years younger than she is.  Given her track record, she didn't acknowledge they were in a relationship because she figured it will jinx things.  As times goes on and he spends more and more time at her place, they were indeed a couple ... much to the disapproval of his parents.

Teresa is an animal lover and adopted Seamus, a one-year-old beagle with a mind of his own.  When it's discovered he had cancer, she did all she could to get him well.  Then when she discovered that she had breast cancer, she took all that she had learned getting Seamus well to get herself well ... she and Chris figured that if the dog lived, so will she (hence the name of the book).

I enjoyed this book.  It is a story of love (the love between Teresa and Chris and the love between Teresa, Chris (who was not a dog lover) and Seamus) and survival.

I liked the writing style.  Despite the nature of the story, it is funny, sarcastic but honest.

I liked Teresa (she and I are about the same age).  She is an animal lover (like me) and was willing to do whatever she had to do to get Seamus better, regardless of the cost.  She cut through the crap to get the answers she needed with both her and Seamus' recoveries.  Chris sounds like quite a guy ... staying true to his heart and being with Teresa despite fact that his parents didn't approve of her as his girlfriend when they first got together.  I loved that he supported her when she was going through chemo and radiation (and lost her hair) to wait to get a haircut so they would get one together.  Seamus sounds like a fun dog ... spoiled but devoted.

I'd recommend this book!

Happy birthday, Morgan!

My boy is 11 years old today.

Happy 11th anniversary, Sister Sarah and Joey

Sister Sarah and Joey got married 11 years ago today ... in a lovely park in Halifax, NS!

Friday 30 August 2013


Gord and I walked home after we stopped at Amsterdam Brewhouse (about a 40 minute walk) and we came upon a bookmobile parked at Queen's Quay/Bathurst Street.

I haven't seen a bookmobile since I was in elementary school (40+ years ago)!

I've always love love loved reading and it was always a treat when the bookmobile would pull up outside our school (in Dartmouth, NS) every week.  We'd take turns going out to it and check out some books.

I didn't know bookmobiles are still around.  Do you have them near you?

Amsterdam BrewHouse, Toronto, ON

After Gord and I got off the Kajama, we headed to the Amsterdam Brewhouse.  We'd been there a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it.

We hoped we'd gotten there earlier enough to sit on the patio ... but we were told there was at least a 15 minute wait since it was full.  So we sat inside instead in the back by a window.

Kajama, Toronto, ON

Gord and I took today off to make it an even longer long weekend.

We headed down to Harbourfront this afternoon to sail on the Kajama.  We try to do it every summer, though we've missed the last couple of years.

Kajama is a three-masted former cargo schooner that currently operates on Lake Ontario as a cruise ship.

The ship was built at Nobiskrug shipyard in Rendsburg, Germany, and launched on July 26, 1930, under the name Wilfried.  Captain Wilhelm Wilckens was her owner and master and he operated from the homeport of Hamburg from 1930 until 1960.

In 1960, she was purchased by Captain Andreas Kohler Asmussen of Egersund, Denmark. Asmussen renamed the ship Kajama after his two sons and his wife Kaywe, Jan and Maria.

The ship continued to work under sail until the mid-1970s, at which time the Asmussens converted her to a strictly motor-driven vessel. In the spring of 1998, Captain Asmussen suffered a fatal cardiac arrest while at the helm. As he was the only crew on watch at the time, the ship went up on a beach near Malmo, Sweden. Drydocking determined that little damage had been suffered.

Throughout the years from 1930 until 1998, Kajama traded general cargo. Her voyages went as far south as Bilboa in Northwest Spain, throughout western Europe, and Scandinavia, and above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway.

In January 1999, she was purchased by Great Lakes Schooner Company of Toronto. After preparation for sea she steamed to England, Azores and on to Toronto. Kajama underwent a major overhaul and restoration to her original profile in just over ten months.  She is now operating on Lake Ontario, taking pride of place in Toronto Harbour. She offers public daysails, educational programs and corporate charters. 

We went on the 2pm sail and there were many who had the same idea we did.

One of the deckhands gives us the safety drill.

Thursday 29 August 2013

My credit card was compromised

Given the nature of my job, I have a corporate credit card.

I got a call from the fraud prevention department of the card's issuer today ... my corporate credit card had been "compromised". I checked and my card was still in my wallet.

Apparently someone tried to spend more than $300 in a grocery store in Texas using my card number.  Yep, Texas!  They were denied and it threw up some red flags to the issuer so they called to check with me.

It's been a quiet summer and I haven't used the card much so it's hard to know when my card info was stolen ... and how did the info make its way all the way to Texas?!

This card has been cancelled and they are going to issue a new one to me.

Has this ever happened to you?

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Book ~ "Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man" (2012) Brian McGrory

From Goodreads ~ Award-winning journalist Brian McGrory goes head to beak in a battle royale with another male for a top-spot in his home, vying for dominance with the family’s pet rooster. 

Brian McGrory's life changed drastically after the death of his beloved dog, Harry: he fell in love with Pam, Harry's veterinarian. Though Brian’s only responsibility used to be his adored Harry, Pam came with accessories that could not have been more exotic to the city-loving bachelor: a home in suburbia, two young daughters, two dogs, two cats, two rabbits and a portly, snow white, red-crowned-and-wattled step-rooster named Buddy

While Buddy loves the women of the house, he takes Brian's presence as an affront, doing everything he can to drive out his rival. Initially resistant to elements of his new life and to the loud, aggressive rooster (who stares menacingly, pecks threateningly, and is constantly poised to attack), Brian eventually sees that Buddy shares the kind of extraordinary relationship with Pam and her two girls that he wants for himself. The rooster is what Brian needs to be – strong and content, devoted to what he has rather than what might be missing. 

As he learns how to live by living with animals, Buddy, Brian’s nemesis, becomes Buddy, Brian’s inspiration, in this inherently human story of love, acceptance, and change. In the tradition of bestsellers like Marley and Me, Dewey, and The Tender Bar comes a heartwarming and wise tale of finding love in life’s second chapter - and how it means all the more when you have to fight for it.

I'm not into roosters but I love animal stories and that's why this caught my eye.

Brian is divorced and has a great life ... a job he loves at the Boston Globe, a great dog named Harry, a condo in Boston and season's tickets for the Red Sox.  He gets to travel and eat out in restaurants.  After his beloved Harry dies, he becomes closer to Harry's vet, Pam.  Pam is newly divorced, has two pre-teen daughters, lives in the suburbs and a menagerie of animals (dogs, bunnies, frogs, etc.).

Brian and Pam get together and slowly everything Brian knows and is comfortable with changes ... he's giving up his condo and living in the 'burbs, he's a soon-to-be stepdad, he's mowing lawns and shoveling snow.  The biggest obstacle that comes, though, is Buddy.  What started out as a cute fuzzy yellow soft homework assignment grows into a menacing dominating spoiled rooster who loves Pam and her daughters but despises and attacks Brian.

This is the story of how Brian tries to adapt to his new life and the lessons he's learned from Harry and Buddy.

I enjoyed this book.  The story is entertaining, funny and heartwarming.  It is told from Brian's point of view as a fella who has never had to worry about taking care of anyone but himself and his dog.  There are times when he wants to run back to his old life in Boston but he knows that what he now has is worth having.

I liked the writing style.  It was funny and sarcastic at times and I found that it was well-paced.

As a former dog owner, I could relate to the loss when Harry died.  And I've never had children either so I could get where he was coming from when he talked about how indulged children are today.  A great example is when one of Pam's daughters is having a birthday party ... the cake is fancy and costs $150, there are balloons everywhere and Pam has hired a manicurist as the theme for the party.  Brian, who is about the same age as me, marvels that in his day (and mine), we had a cheap cake and played Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey and that's the way it was.

I liked Brian.  Though I loved that Pam and her daughters were animal lovers, I did have an issue with them.  Buddy obviously hated Brian (he physically attacked Brian often) yet Pam said it was up to Brian to figure out a way to work it out (she's lucky he didn't bail and head back to Boston) ... I didn't blame him for imagining Buddy in a roast pan.  Her daughters sounded spoiled and bratty.  Granted it is written from Brian's perspective as a 40-something man who has never had children but they seemed overindulged.  One New Year's Day they demand that he head out to the store to buy them $100 dolls that were being released that day ... and he does, yet they thank their mother (who stayed home with the girls), not him.  I found them only likeable when they wanted Brian to read to them at night.

I would recommend this book!

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Book ~ "A Dog Named Boo: The Underdog with a Heart of Gold" (2012) Lisa J. Edwards

From Goodreads ~ She thought she was rescuing an abandoned puppy. 

Turns out, he was rescuing her. 

The last thing Lisa Edwards needed was a new dog. But when she came across an abandoned litter on Halloween, her heart went out to the runt who walked into walls and couldn't steady his feet. Lisa--healing from past abuse and battling constant pain from a chronic medical condition--saw a bit of herself in little Boo. And when he snuggled, helpless, against her, she knew he was meant to be hers. 

The dunce of obedience class with poor eyesight and a clumsy gait, Boo was the least likely of heroes. Yet with his unflappable spirit and boundless love, Boo has changed countless lives through his work as a therapy dog--helping a mute six-year-old boy to speak, coaxing movement from a paralyzed girl and stirring life in a ninety-four-year-old nun with Alzheimer's. But perhaps Boo's greatest miracle is the way he transformed Lisa's life, giving her the greatest gift of all--faith in herself. 

This is the inspiring true story of "the little dog who could" but more than that, it's the story of how one woman and one dog rescued each other--a moving tribute to hope, resilience and the transformative power of unconditional love. 

I love reading books about dogs so this one caught my eye.

It was Halloween 2000 and Lisa came across some puppies for sale for $49.99 ... they'd been left on the doorstep of a pet store.  Even though she had two dogs at home, she couldn't resist and bought one and named him Boo.  When she brought him home, her husband, Lawrence, wasn't enthused since he was suffering from Crohn's.

Lisa was working for a literary agency and teaching dog-training classes part-time ... she eventually leaves the literary world and gets involved with dogs full-time (eventually starting her own company).  Two of her dogs were doing pet-assisted therapy (visiting schools, retirement homes, etc.) and she hoped to train Boo into doing the same.  But it becomes apparent that there's something not right with Boo because he's taking a lot time to train ... they discover he has cerebellar hypoplasia.  He's a sweet dog and they eventually learn what his skills are.

I liked this book and the story of Boo (he sounds like an awesome dog!).  It's also the story of his doggie brothers Atticus, Dante and and Porthos.  The book gets technical at times but then things are explained right away so you know what she is talking about.  Her love for dogs is obvious and she is passionate about sharing the benefits a dog can bring.  She had an abusive childhood plus has physical limitations so it's great that she has found a way to heal and give back to others.

Monday 26 August 2013

Jack Astor's Bar & Grill, Toronto, ON (Front Street)

I met my pals, Deb, Franca and Liz for supper this evening at Jack Astor's (Front Street/University Avenue).

There is a Blue Jays game this evening and we got there just in time ... there was a line-up around the block just after we got there.

We've been friends since the mid 1990s and get together every couple of months for supper.

Liz ordered the Smiling Buddha salad.

I always get their chicken parm so tried something different ... the Easy Sell pizza without mushrooms.

Franca ordered the Crispy Honey Sesame Chicken.

Deb ordered the Roasted Garlic Shrimp Manifold ... hers looked the most fun!

Sunday 25 August 2013

Humber Bay Park East to home walk

Gord and I caught the streetcar across Queen Street W to Park Lawn Road to Humber Bay Park East ... so we could walk eastward to home.

Following the water itt's about 6.5km from Park Lawn Road to home.  We took our time taking lots of pictures and had a late late lunch.  We left about 12:30pm and got home about 6:30pm.

Hmmmmm ... a stiletto on a fire hydrant is an odd thing to see
We walked through the habitat but saw no butterflies
These were the only butterflies we saw!

Sunnyside Pavilion Café, Toronto, ON

During our walk, we stopped at Sunnyside Pavilion Café for a late late lunch.

It was such a nice day so we sat on the patio.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Book ~ "Nowhere But Up" (2012) Pattie Mallette

From Goodreads ~ For the first time ever, get the complete story of Justin Bieber's mother's amazing spiritual journey from brokenness and despair to wholeness and hope.

I don't mind Justin Bieber's music but I wouldn't say I'm a fan.  But I enjoy reading bios/autobios and I was curious to see his story along with his mom's.

Pattie is the youngest of three kids (though one died just before she was born).  Her dad left the family when she was two and died less than ten years later just after reconnecting with them.  Her mother eventually remarried but Pattie remained distant to her stepdad.  She was sexually abused during her childhood and felt unlovable.  She fell in with the wrong crowd and drank and did drugs.  She ended up pregnant at 17 and though Justin's father was/is in his life, they didn't stay together.

Pattie raised Justin as a single mom.  Times were tough but she indulged and encouraged Justin's love of music and sports.  He was a hyper kid so these kept him occupied and out of the trouble she had gotten into.  She was definitely a protective mom and I found her likable.

It was an interesting story of a woman who turned her life around.  It was a lot more detailed in the beginning and then sped up after Justin was born.  The writing style was easy to read.

Pattie found God when she was 17.  Her faith is strong, she quotes a lot of scriptures from the Bible and it seems like she depends on God a lot to make her decisions (I'm not religious at all).

I'd recommend this book if you like autobios/bios or are a Bieber fan.

Gord and I go to Stratford a couple times a year for the Stratford Festival.  Here's the Avon Theatre where Justin used to busk (these were taken when we were there in June 2012).

He has a star in front of the theatre now.

Here's Gord standing next to it.

Friday 23 August 2013

ECC East Coast Boat Cruise, Toronto, ON

Tonight Gord and I went on the ECC East Coast Boat Cruise.  It was the second annual boat cruise and it was in support of Chrysalis House (Youth in Transition) in New Brunswick.

East Coast Connected (ECC) is a social, philanthropic, and investment hub.

Major economic centres like Toronto and Ottawa are home to thousands of “ex-pat” Atlantic Canadians. These people have left the East Coast to advance their careers, to pursue secondary education opportunities, to honour family commitments, or to encounter different cultural experiences than they can find in their home provinces. They never lose their love for the Atlantic region.

East Coast Connected believes that Atlantic Canadians who have moved away are still, at heart, Atlantic Canadians. More than that, we believe that they are still a valuable resource for their home provinces – whether you’re talking about investment opportunities or fundraising for your former local charity, this diverse group of people is full of passion and goodwill.

Since 2007, East Coast Connected has been a forum for discussion, dialogue, networking, and informal mentoring. We aim to take advantage of the momentum generated since our inception. How? By channelling the energy of our members into doing good work, and by reaffirming our role as a key professional networking hub for Atlantic Canadians.

I'm originally from Nova Scotia and this is the second event we've done with them.

The cruise was on the Stella Borealis.  Early bird tickets were just $25 (then it was $35).  There were apparently about 250 tickets sold.

Boarding started at 7:30pm and we got there about 7:40pm.  It was great to see the flags from the Atlantic provinces hanging off the side of the boat!