Saturday 30 August 2014

Our new Master Forge BBQ

Gord and I live in a condo in a townhouse ... we're on the lower level.  The condos were built in 1999 and the builder provided BBQs to all the lower level units because we have gas lines on the terrace.

Ours still worked 15 years later ... sorta.  Not all the spots got heat and others got too much heat.  Gord and I have been wanting to replace our BBQ for the last couple years but just never got around to it.

Well, today was the day!

Gord hauled our BBQ out to the garbage area this morning.

Where our BBQ used to be

Here's our old BBQ in the garbage area ...

It served us well over the years

That's ours on the left ... someone else bailed theirs this weekend too.

Our old BBQ has a buddy

We went to Lowes in Etobicoke after brunch and bought a Master Forge BBQ.  Whoohoo!

The manual said it would take us 50 minutes to put it together ... and that's about how long it took.

Sunny Morning, Etobicoke, ON

Gord love love loves breakfast and we recently discovered Sunny Morning on the Queensway in Etobicoke (near Canadian Tire).  It's been open about four months.

It was crowded both times we've been there.

When we went the first time, I had Peameal Bacon 'n Eggs, with home fries as my side.  It was delicous!  And there was a lot of food!

Friday 29 August 2014

Book ~ "Yellow Crocus" (2014) Laila Ibrahim

From Goodreads ~ Mattie was never truly mine. That knowledge must have filled me as quickly and surely as the milk from her breasts. Although my family ‘owned’ her, although she occupied the center of my universe, her deepest affections lay elsewhere. So along with the comfort of her came the fear that I would lose her some day. This is our story ...

So begins Lisbeth Wainwright’s compelling tale of coming-of-age in antebellum Virginia. Born to white plantation owners but raised by her enslaved black wet nurse, Mattie, Lisbeth’s childhood unfolds on the line between two very different worlds.

Growing up under the tender care of Mattie, Lisbeth adopts her surrogate mother’s deep-seated faith in God, her love of music and black-eyed peas, and the tradition of hunting for yellow crocuses in the early days of spring. In time, Lisbeth realizes she has freedoms and opportunities that Mattie does not have, though she’s confined by the societal expectations placed on women born to privilege. As Lisbeth grows up, she struggles to reconcile her love for her caregiver with her parents’ expectations, a task made all the more difficult as she becomes increasingly aware of the ugly realities of the American slavery system. When Lisbeth bears witness to a shockingly brutal act, the final vestiges of her naïveté crumble around her. Lisbeth realizes she must make a choice, one that will require every ounce of the courage she learned from her beloved Mattie.

This compelling historical novel is a richly evocative tale of love, loss, and redemption set during one of the most sinister chapters of American history.

It's 1837 and Mattie is a slave.  Mrs. Ann, the mistress of the big house, gives birth to Elizabeth and Mattie becomes her wet nurse because it would be inappropriate for Mrs. Ann to breastfeed her own child (Mrs. Ann is repulsed by the idea).  Elizabeth (or Lisbeth as Mattie nicknames her) becomes Mattie's responsibility.  Mattie gets to spend time with her own young son, Samuel, just once a week (and hopes he won't forget her) and she sees her husband, Emmanuel, who is a slave on another plantation, once a month.

This story follows the loving relationship between Mattie and Lisabeth, despite the differences in their stations, from the time Lisbeth was a baby to when she becomes an adult.

This is the debut book of this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style and I think the author captured the essence of the times well ... it's hard to imagine that people were treated with such disregard as they were because of the colour of their skin.  It is written in third person perspective with the focus on Mattie and Lisbeth, depending on what is going on.

I liked Mattie and Lisabeth.  Mattie comes from a long generation of slaves and knows no other life.  She doesn't question it when she has to leave her own son to nurse another woman's child ... that's just the way it was.  Lisabeth's parents are white, rich and care about appearances.  With Mattie taking care of her, Lisbeth sees the other side of the plantation as she gets to know the slaves as she visits them with Mattie.

I would recommend this book and look forward to reading others by this author.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Book ~ "Up, Up, and Away" (2014) Jonah Keri

From Goodreads ~ The definitive history of the Montreal Expos by the definitive Expos fan, the New York Times bestselling sportswriter and Grantland columnist Jonah Keri.

2014 is the 20th anniversary of the strike that killed baseball in Montreal and the 10th anniversary of the team's move to Washington, DC. But the memories aren't dead - not by a long shot. The Expos pinwheel cap is still sported by Montrealers, former fans and by many more in the U.S. and Canada as a fashion item. Expos loyalists are still spotted at Blue Jays games and wherever the Washington Nationals play (often cheering against them). Every year there are rumours that Montreal - as North America's largest market without a baseball team - could host Major League Baseball again.

I enjoy baseball and going to Toronto Blue Jays games.  Gord read this book earlier this month and though I don't know much about the Montreal Expos, he said I'd probably find it interesting because it talks about what happened behind the scenes in baseball.

I found that it was indeed an interesting read.  It didn't sound like the Expos had much of a chance ... there was fighting and power struggles among the owners, lack of cashflow, a crappy stadium to play in, a crazy strategy to sell their better players to be able to buy more players that would either turn out to be awesome (and then be sold!) or not meet expectations, etc.  Yet they had stellar years.

It was a different time back then and there didn't seem to be any controls ... players would show up drunk or stoned.  They'd slide into bases headfirst even if they didn't have to so they wouldn't break the vile of coke they had in their back pockets!  Thankfully many got help and have turned their lives around.  There were many players who embraced their lives in Montreal and even took French lessons so they could speak the language and blend in.

The author spent a lot of time conducting many interviews including the former players, coaches, owners, broadcasters, etc. (the list is at the back).  It was obvious that he was a fan ... he'd grown up with the Expos from the time he was a kid. For the true fan, there are details about various games.

Island Foods, Toronto, ON (King Street W)

I had an appointment with my naturopath, Tara, after work today ... she did acupuncture (25 needles) and took some blood samples for a food tolerance test.

I stopped in for supper afterwards at Island Foods (Dufferin Street/King Street W), which is in my 'hood.  I hadn't been since February.

I've been going there since 1998, when I worked a couple blocks from it.  My colleagues and I used to go on a weekly basis.

I ordered my usual, a boneless chicken roti ... and it was delicious!

Island Foods on Urbanspoon

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Monk's Grill, Vancouver, BC

I am flying home today at noon and had an early lunch at Monk's Grill at the Vancouver Airport.

Though it was only 10am (1pm Toronto-time), I ordered a burger and fries ... the flight is almost five hours so I wanted to make sure I wouldn't get hungry (I don't do hunger well).

The burger was good, though I found the bun a bit dry.  The fries were good too.

Roy was my server and he took good care of me.

Monk's Grill on Urbanspoon

Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, Vancouver, BC

I spent the last three nights in Vancouver and stayed at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.  It is within walking distance of the downtown core.

I was in the north tower
The lobby
The lobby and reception

Here's my room ... they put me in a handicap room on the fifth floor.  There were railings in the bathroom and the rod in the closet was really low.

Monday 25 August 2014

Johnnie Fox’s Irish Snug, Vancouver, BC

I felt like going to a pub for supper tonight.  Johnnie Fox's Irish Snug on Granville was just a couple blocks from my hotel so I thought I'd check it out (it got 4/5 stars on Yelp so I had high hopes for it).

It's not a big place and it was crowded ... I liked the vibe.  There was Celtic music playing, then Flogging Molly started looping (I love Flogging Molly!).

The food selections

The Toronto Blue Jays - Boston Red Sox game was on.  It was weird to watch the ninth and tenth inning at 7pm (because of the three hour time difference) ... in Toronto the game starts at 7ish.

Lions Pub, Vancouver, BC

I had two seminars and eight one-on-ones to conduct today.  For lunch, I went to the Lions Pub, which was nearby.

Though there was room on the patio, I sat inside where it was cooler.

I was there early before others arrived

Sunday 24 August 2014

Belcarra Park, Port Moody, BC

This afternoon I went to Belcarra Park with my pal, Leanne, her mom, Shirley and her daughter, Marron, for a picnic supper ... it's about 40 minutes outside Vancouver.  Leanne and I worked together for a few years in Toronto before she moved back to Vancouver in 1997.

It was such a nice day and others had the same idea but on a grander scale.

We stopped at a grocery store for all the fixin's ... chicken, buns, salads, pop, mini cupcakes, etc.  Yum!

Afterwards, we relaxed and then took a walk to the wharf.

Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

I hung out with my pal, Leanne, and her mom, Shirley, today and we walked around the east side of Stanley Park for a while.  Leanne and I worked together for a few years in Toronto before she moved back to Vancouver in 1997.

Stanley Park is a 1,001 acre public park that borders downtown.  This year, Trip Advisor named it the top park in the entire world! The walkway is currently 22 kilometres (14 mi) from end to end, making it the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront walkway.  Walking the loop takes two to three hours.

We stopped to take a look at the totem poles. Very cool!