Sunday, 27 September 2015

Book ~ "Rescue Me, Maybe" (2015) Jackie Bouchard

From Goodreads ~ If you lost both your husband and your dog to cancer within weeks of each other but you were sadder about the dog, would you tell anyone? Maybe your closest friends. 

Unfortunately, Jane Bailey’s closest friends are on the other side of the country. That’s where Jane plans to go now that she’s free to leave Philadelphia, the too cold, beachless, street taco-deficient city her husband dragged her to six years ago. 

But with no job prospects in her hometown of San Diego, Jane is roped into helping out temporarily at her uncle’s southwestern small-town B&B. En route to her new role as innkeeper and breakfast chef, she finds a stray at a rest stop. With her heart in pieces from the loss of her dog, she’s determined not to let this mutt worm its way into her affections. She’s also determined to have next-to-no interaction with the B&B’s irritating guests and the even more annoying handyman who lives next door. 

Can Jane keep her sanity - and her secret that she’s not really a grieving widow - while trying to achieve her dream of getting back to the place she thinks is home? 

Jane's husband, Ryan, had recently died of cancer.  Her dog, Barnum, passed away two weeks later of cancer.   Jane is in mourning ... for her dog.  She had fallen out of love with Ryan but before she could leave him and move back to San Diego, he got sick and she stayed to take care of him.  Once Ryan was gone, she still had to play the part of the grieving widow in front of her mother and his parents.

She hates Ryan's hometown of Philadephia so makes plans to move back home to San Diego.  Her uncle and aunt own a B&B in Arizona so she agrees to help them out for three months while her aunt recovers from surgery.  On the drive to Arizona, she comes across a stray dog at a rest stop.  Rather than leave her there, she takes the dog and drops her off at a shelter when she gets to the B&B.  Working in the kitchen of the B&B is perfect for Jane because she hates people but loves cooking and baking.  She's counting the days, though, 'til she can head to San Diego.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style and found it well-paced.  Jane is a self-professed curmudgeon and story is written in first person from her point of view.  I thought the narrative was snarky at times and funny.  It sounds like it would be a depressing book but I found it humorous.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Though Jane doesn't sound like a likable character, I liked her.  I found her funny and sarcastic.  She's tall and slim and doesn't care how she dresses ... her mom is always trying to get her to dress better.    She has names for the people who stay at the B&B that aren't usually flattering.  As much as she isn't a fan of people, she has a huge heart for dogs.

I look forward to reading more by this author.

The Wheat Sheaf, Toronto, ON

After the Blue Jays game, Gord and I walked to the Wheat Sheaf (King Street W/Bathurst), which is one of Toronto's oldest pubs (it opened around 1850) for supper.

Toronto Blue Jays 5, Tampa Bay Rays 5, Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON

Today was the Blue Jays' last home game of the season.  It was sold out (as have the last 15+ games) ... it's a good thing that Gord and I bought our tickets for it a couple months ago!

The names of the Jays' players are on the sidewalk outside the Rogers Centre.


We got there a bit early (as did most attendees as they were giving away hoodies ... they ran out about five minutes after the doors opened so we didn't get one).  We watched the players stretch and get ready for the game.


Here are Gord and I with our "rally towels".


Here are the starting pitchers ...


Here are the starting Jays players.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Oktoberfest, Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, ON


Gord and I went to Oktoberfest at the Gladstone Hotel this evening (it started at 5pm).   Tickets were only $10.


You don’t need to go to Munich to experience the beer-fueled joys of Oktoberfest because you can find it all at the Gladstone Hotel with the help of the good people at Mill Street Brewery.

Eat, drink and dance like a German with live, traditional, knee-slapping Bavarian music, bartenders in lederhosen and all the pretzels and bratwurst you can eat.

There were samples of Mill Street Brewery's Oktoberfest and Nightmare on Mill Street as we came in.


There was Bavarian music until 8pm.  These guys were awesome!  They were fun and friendly.

Gord
Me

The ticket included the first beer in a huge stein (but not the stein).  Abby was bartending.  A full stein after that was only $10!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Sunny Morning, Etobicoke, ON

I had a couple early enrolment seminars to conduct this morning in Etobicoke.  I had a late breakfast afterwards at Sunny Morning on the Queensway (near Canadian Tire).


I had Peameal Bacon 'N Eggs with fruit as my side.  It was delicious and so much food!

Yum!

Alyssa was my server.  She was friendly and took good care of me.

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

Writers Talking TV with Bruce McCulloch, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto, ON

This evening I attended an event sponsored by the Writers Guild of Canada ... Matt Watts interviewed Bruce McCulloch.

Writers Talking TV features Kids in the Hall’s Bruce McCulloch with his comedy series "Young Drunk Punk" on September 24. Bruce is the series’ creator, showrunner and one of its stars. Fellow writer Matt Watts will talk to Bruce about his thoughts about creating TV comedy, and the evening includes an audience Q&A.

Tickets were free and the event was sold out.


I got a great seat ... in the front row right in the centre.

Bruce talked a bit about his days with Kids in the Hall (I was a fan and watched their show in the late 80s/early 90s ... I went to their 2015 tour in April at the Danforth Music Hall) and about his book, Let's Start a Riot (which coincidentally I read a couple weeks ago).  Most of the focus was on writing for TV.  They showed an episode of Young Drunk Punk (The Clash is Coming).  And it ended with Bruce taking questions from the audience.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Book ~ "Open Heart, Open Mind" (2015) Clara Hughes

From Goodreads ~ In 2006, when Clara Hughes stepped onto the Olympic podium in Torino, Italy, she became the first and only athlete ever to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games. Four years later, she was proud to carry the Canadian flag at the head of the Canadian team as they participated in the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. But there’s another story behind her celebrated career as an athlete, behind her signature billboard smile.

While most professional athletes devote their entire lives to training, Clara spent her teenage years using drugs and drinking to escape the stifling home life her alcoholic father had created in Elmwood, Winnipeg. She was headed nowhere fast when, at sixteen, she watched transfixed in her living room as gold medal speed skater Gaétan Boucher effortlessly raced in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Dreaming of one day competing herself, Clara channeled her anger, frustration, and raw ambition into the endurance sports of speed skating and cycling. By 2010, she had become a six-time Olympic champion.

But after more than a decade in the grueling world of professional sports that stripped away her confidence and bruised her body, Clara began to realize that her physical extremes, her emotional setbacks and her partying habits were masking a severe depression. After winning bronze in the last speed skating race of her career, she decided to retire, determined to repair herself. She has emerged as one of our most committed humanitarians, advocating for a variety of social causes both in Canada and around the world. In 2010, she became national spokesperson for Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk campaign in support of mental health awareness, using her Olympic standing to share the positive message of the power of forgiveness.

Told with honesty and passion, Open Heart, Open Mind is Clara’s personal journey through physical and mental pain to a life where love and understanding can thrive. This revelatory and inspiring story will touch the hearts of readers everywhere. 

Clara Hughes is a Canadian cyclist and speed skater, who has won multiple Olympic medals in both sports.  She is tied with Cindy Klassen as the Canadian with the most Olympic medals, with six medals total.  She is one of the few athletes who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympic games.

Because of her success in sports and her humanitarian efforts, Hughes was named to both the Order of Manitoba and as an Officer of the Order of Canada. She is involved with Right To Play, which is an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sports to encourage the development of youth in disadvantaged areas.  She has received a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame and was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

This book is her story of growing up in Winnipeg with a father was an alcoholic who verbally abused their mother.  As a teen, she drank, used drugs and skipped school, trying to escape her home life.  When she was 16, she turned her life around when she saw gold medal speed skater, Gaétan Boucher, race in the 1988 Calgary Olympics ... that's what she wanted to do.  She tells of her highs and lows, of training, of lacking in confidence, meeting and marrying Peter, of the grueling physical vacations that she and Peter have taken (our idea of vacations are definitely different ... ha!), of her realization that she suffered from depression, and more.

I liked the writing style.  I found her to be honest, down to earth, likable and human (like freaking out when she's frustrated and angry).  She's not afraid to swear and even drops the F-bomb.

Gord saw her speak a couple weeks ago at Indigo (I was out of town) ... jealous!

I was at a conference in 2010 and Clara was the "motivational" speaker.  Afterwards she let everyone hold/wear her medals, signed autographs and had pictures taken.  Even then her mantra was open mind, open heart, warrior.

Clara and I and the bronze medal she won at the 2010 Winter Olympics
in the 5000 metre speed skating (her final Olympic race).
It weighed 2.5 pounds and seemed heavy!

Burrito Boyz, Toronto, ON (Queen W)

I love burritos and I love the ones at Burrito Boyz.

I had an early lunch at the Queen W location today (at Queen Street W/King Street W/Roncesvalles).


I got what I always get ... a large chicken burrito.  And it was delicious!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Book ~ "I Regret Nothing: A Memoir" (2015) Jen Lancaster

From Goodreads ~ Sure Jen has made mistakes. She spent all her money from a high-paying job on shoes, clothes and spa treatments. She then carried a Prada bag to the unemployment office. She wrote a whole memoir about dieting … but didn’t lose weight. She embarked on a quest for cultural enlightenment that only cemented her love for John Hughes movies and Kraft American Singles. She tried to embrace everything Martha Stewart, while living with a menagerie of rescue cats and dogs (glitter… everywhere).

Mistakes are one thing; regrets are another.

After a girls’ weekend in Savannah makes her realize that she is - yikes! - middle-aged (binge watching is so the new binge drinking), Jen decides to make a bucket list and seize the day, even if that means having her tattoo removed at one hundred times the cost of putting it on.

From attempting a juice cleanse to studying Italian, from learning to ride a bike to starting a new business, and from sampling pasta in Rome to training for a 5K, Jen is turning a mid-life crisis into a mid-life opportunity, sharing her sometimes bumpy - but always hilarious - attempts to better her life … again. 

At 46, Jen is married to Fletcher, able to make a living writing and mom to cats and dogs.  It hits her that she is middle-aged and she wants to move forward with no regrets ...

"At my age, I feel like I'm halfway to the finish line and life's too short to do what I'm sure to hate."

She has decided that she won't say "no" to her friends so she'll have new and different experiences and she'll create a bucket list ... she relearns how to ride a bike, takes Italian lessons, goes on vacation to Italy, meets an icon, turns her hobby of refinishing furniture into a profit, and more.  But it's also the time she looks inwards and wants to start getting healthier physically and emotionally (apparently she ended up losing 70 pounds).

I liked the writing style ... it's funny and sarcastic.  I think she would be fun to be around.  I found in this book, though, that she was more honest and less snarky at times, especially when she describes her feelings of being overweight.

I liked her use of sidebars ... I hated it when she used footnotes in her earlier memoirs (too much distraction having to look down then back up then down then back up).  I liked that there were some pictures in the books, especially of her dogs.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Though not a fan of her fiction, I've read all her memoirs and have enjoyed them for the most part.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Moxie's Grill & Bar, Calgary, AB

I had lunch today at Moxie's (on Hopewell Way NE).


They have a lounge side.


I sat on the dining room side.


I ordered the Double Stacked Turkey Club sandwich (minus the lettuce and cheese) with roasted baby potatoes.  It's been a while since I've had a sandwich and this was a good one!  The bread was tasty and soft and the bacon was indeed crisp.   The baby potatoes were delicious!

Courtyard Marriott, Calgary Airport, Calgary, AB

I have four enrolment seminars to conduct for a client in Calgary today.  They are near the airport so I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott.

There is a restaurant plus a Starbucks in the lobby

Though I could see the airport from my room, it was crazy roundabout route to get here (about a 15 minute drive).


There was a golf course next door and there's the airport across the street.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Book ~ "The Mountain Story" (2015) Lori Lansens

From GoodreadsOn his 18th birthday, Wolf Truly takes the tramway to the top of the mountain that looms over Palm Springs, intending to jump to his death. Instead he encounters strangers wandering in the mountain wilderness, three women who will change the course of his life. Through a series of missteps he and the women wind up stranded, in view of the city below, but without a way down. They endure five days in freezing temperatures without food or water or shelter, and somehow find the courage to carry on.

Wolf, now a grown man, has never told his son or anyone, what happened on the mountain during those five days but he can't put it off any longer. And in telling the story to his only child, Daniel, he at last explores the nature of the ties that bind and the sacrifices people will make for love. The mountain still has a hold on Wolf, composed of equal parts beauty and terror. 

Wolf's mother died when he was young, his father is in prison and he's still reeling from his best friend's accident a year ago.  He feels he has nothing to live for so he heads to the top of the mountain on his 18th birthday with the intent of committing suicide.  On one of the paths, he comes across three women who are lost.  After he begrudgingly gets them back on track again, he is going to continue with his plan ... but they become lost.  For five days they wander around the mountain trying to find their way again or hope that rescuers are looking for them.  They have no food, no water, freezing temperatures threatening frostbite and coyotes licking their lips.

The book is Wolf's letter and account of the incident to his son, Daniel, who is attending university.  Wolf feels it's time to be honest about what happened on the mountain ... there are things he is revealing that no one, even his wife (Daniel's mother), knows.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I liked it.  I liked the writing style and found it suspenseful ... you know that that Wolf makes it out alive but do the others?  The chapters are chunked up by the days they are lost.  It is written in third person perspective from Wolf's point of view.  The ending had a surprising twist.

I liked the characters.  I felt bad for Wolf.  He had a loser dad who was never around.  They lived with his father's cousin who had questionable parenting skills.  The only person Wolf was close to was his friend, Byrd, and he lost him a year earlier.  Wolf is forced to mature quickly when he takes on the responsibility of the three women on the mountain.

I look forward to reading other books by this author.

Chop Steakhouse & Bar, Calgary, AB

I had supper this evening at the Chop Steakhouse (on Hopewell Way NE), which is close to my hotel.


I sat in the lounge, rather than the dining room, which was more relaxed.