Thursday 31 March 2016

C'est What?, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at C'est What? on Front Street E.

Black Oak Brewing Co. had a tap take-over ... Ken, the
owner of Black Oak, bought Gord a beer for his birthday

When I got there about 5pm, it was fairly quiet.

Happy birthday, Gord!

Wishing my husband, Gord, a very happy birthday!

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Book ~ "Becoming Rain" (2015) K.A. Tucker

From Goodreads ~ Luke Boone doesn't know exactly what his uncle Rust is involved in but he wants in on it - the cars, the money, the women. And it looks like he's finally getting his wish. When Rust hands him the managerial keys to the garage, they come with a second set - one that opens up the door to tons of cash and opportunity. Though it's not exactly legal, Luke's never been one to worry about that sort of thing. Especially when it puts him behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 and onto the radar of gorgeous socialite named Rain.

Clara Bertelli is at the top of her game - at only twenty-six years old, she's one of the most successful undercover officers in the Washington D.C. major crime unit, and she's just been handed a case that could catapult her career and expose one of the west coast's most notorious car theft rings. But, in order to do it, she'll need to go deep undercover as Rain Martines. Her target? The twenty-four-year old nephew of a key player who appears ready to follow in his uncle's footsteps.

As Clara drifts deeper into the luxurious lifestyle of Rain, and further into the arms of her very attractive and charming target, the lines between right and wrong start to blur, making her wonder if she'll be able to leave it all behind. Or if she'll even want to. 

Luke works in the garage that is owned by his uncle, Rust.  Rust has promised the garage to Luke but first he has to gain experience in running it.  In addition, Rust is involved with the Russian mafia in stealing cars and shipping them overseas.  Rust is gradually including Luke in this side business and Luke isn't saying no to the extra cash and all that comes with it.

Clara is a cop who goes undercover as Rain to get close to Luke to bring him and his uncle down.  The problem is that as Luke starts to fall in love with Rain, Clara steps over the boundaries and starts to have feelings for him too.  She becomes torn between wanting to solve the case and to protect Luke.

This is the second in the Burying Water series and I enjoyed it.  We were introduced to Luke in the first one, Burying Waterand some of the characters from that book appear briefly in this one.  Though it is part of a series, it works as a stand alone as there is enough background information provided.  I look forward to reading the others in the series.

I liked the writing style.  It's written in first person perspective in Clara's and Luke's voices (the chapters are labeled so it's obvious).  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

Monday 28 March 2016

Book ~ "Ready to Retire?: The New Reality of Retirement and What You and Your Spouse Need to Know" (2016) Lyndsay Green

From GoodreadsConceived and written for the women (and men) who live with partners about to retire – or already in retirement – "Ready to Retire?" seeks to help couples understand what their spouses are going through as they meet the new realtiy of life beyond the workplace.

Cultural messaging has traditionally reinforced the idea of the man as bread winner and thusly, men of this generation have a particularly hard time making the retirement adjustment as they so often completely self-identify with their work. In light of this cultural trend, author and sociologist Lyndsay Green sets out to demystify retirement for men and their partners, and provides an engaging and uplifting portrait of the emotional landscape of men in their sixties and seventies.

While most books on this subject focus on finances, Lyndsay Green writes more about the psychological implications of retirement. More descriptive than instructional, the book is based on interviews with over sixty people, from age 56 to 88, living in cities, small towns and rural areas.

In spite of the fact that many men have a deep-rooted fear about retirement, and that so often their spouses can be baffled by their inability to express those fears and needs, Lyndsay Green discovered that the story of men’s retirement is mostly one of adjustment, revitalization and reinvention. "Ready to Retire?" is an inspiring portrait of the emotional lives of men who are retired or are considering retirement, and the women (and men) they live with.

I work in the retirement industry ... I conduct seminars and one-on-ones encouraging participants to sign up for their company-sponsored retirement plan so financially they can have the retirement they hope for. As such, I like to read books about retirement planning and this one caught my eye.

Most of us hope that we save enough for our retirements and we don't think about what we are going to actually do in retirement (this is something I discuss sometimes in the one-on-ones) and how our retirement will affect our relationship with our spouse.  This book isn't focused on the financial aspects of retirement and the topics include:
  1. Men and retirement
  2. Fears of retirement
  3. The reality of retirement
  4. Delayed retirement
  5. Relationship with others
  6. Relationship with yourself

The foundation of this book was based on the lives of 44 men (I didn't realize when I got the book that is was focused on men) and 17 of their spouses, who told the author their stories about being or living with a retirement-aged man.  The ages ranged from 56 to 88 with two-thirds of them at peak retirement age (age 64 to 75).  Some left work happily while others not so happily.  Some retired and then went back to work and some wished they were still working.  They came from different income levels and some had saved enough for retirement, while others hadn't.  They were married, divorced or widowed, both hetero- and homosexual.

It's an interesting book to read to get men's views on retirement and also their spouses reactions.  It's got to be quite a change for a woman who has been used to having the house to herself to all of a sudden have her husband around all the time (that's a lot of togetherness!).  One spouse was honest and said that she'll have breakfast and supper with her husband but she wants to be on her own for lunch.

Saturday 26 March 2016

Book ~ "Far From True" (2016) Linwood Barclay

From Goodreads ~ After the screen of a run-down drive-in movie theater collapses and kills four people, the daughter of one of the victims asks private investigator Cal Weaver to look into a recent break-in at her father’s house. Cal discovers a hidden basement room where it’s clear that salacious activities have taken place - as well as evidence of missing DVDs. But his investigation soon becomes more complicated when he realizes it may not be discs the thief was actually interested in.

Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is still trying to solve two murders - one of which is three years old - he believes are connected, since each featured a similar distinctive wound.

As the lies begin to unravel, Cal is headed straight into the heart of a dark secret as his search uncovers more startling truths about Promise Falls. And when yet another murder happens, Cal and Barry are both driven to pursue their investigations, no matter where they lead. Evil deeds long thought buried are about to haunt the residents of this town - as the sins of the past and present collide with terrifying results.

It's the drive-in's last night in operation and the drive-in is packed.  There is an explosion and the screen tumbles down, landing on two cars killing four people.  Of one those killed is Adam, an author.  Adam's daughter, Lucy, hires Cal, a private detective, to investigate a break-in in her father's house right after his death.  They discover that Adam and his wife, Miriam, had a "playhouse" in their basement where they would film their fun with other couples ... but the DVDs have disappeared so they assume that's what the thief was looking for and had taken.

Sam, who runs the town's laundramat, is in a custody battle for her son with her ex-in-laws (her ex-husband is in prison) and her ex-in-laws will do anything to get Carl.

David, a former journalist, is working for the sleazy ex-mayor, Randy, in his bid to run for mayor again.  It's going against David's better judgement to work for Randy but he needs the job.

This is the second in the Promise Falls series .  I'd read the first one, Broken Promise, in November.  Far From True could work as a stand alone but I think you'd be better off reading the first one before you read this one.  There was a lot going on in the first one and a lot of the things are still continuing in this one.  There are references to the stuff that happened in the first one but if I picked this one up without reading the first one, I would find it a bit confusing and overwhelming.

I've read many books by this author over the years ... some I've liked a lot and some not so much.  I like his writing style in this one and was okay with the switching of perspectives ... sometimes it's third person perspective and sometimes it's first person perspective (when it's Cal's voice).   As a head's up, there is swearing (lots of F-bombs).

By the end of the book, two of the major plot lines are still not solved (the author pulled this stunt in the first book too).  As a writer, he probably did this to build the suspense to entice readers to buy the final book in the series.  As a reader, I found this extremely annoying and after devoting so much time to reading this book (at 480 pages, it's not a short read), he's making me buy the next one if I want to find out the "whodunnits" bad enough.

Friday 25 March 2016

Toronto Rock 9, Saskatchewan Rush 11, ACC, Toronto, ON

Gord and I are season ticket holders for the Toronto Rock lacrosse team games ... the Rock is a professional lacrosse franchise in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).  This is our fourth year going to the games and our third year having seasons tickets.

The Rock were playing the Saskatchewan Rush.

Going into tonight's game, Toronto was at the bottom of the standings in the east division and Saskatchewan was in second place in the west division.

Despite being at the bottom of the east division, the Rock has a scoring leader and a goaltender leader on their team.

As usual, Scotty Newlands sang the national anthem.

Thursday 24 March 2016

The Garth Brooks World Tour, Hamilton, ON

I'm not a fan of country music.  When Gord and I got married in 2002, his Garth Brooks greatest hits CD moved in with him.  I'd heard of Garth Brooks but didn't know any of his music.  I listened to his greatest hits CD and liked it.  I said that if I ever had the opportunity to see him in concert, I would ... and we did!

The Garth Brooks World Tour is in Hamilton this weekend and Gord and I had tickets for tonight's show (the first of five).

I like getting concert teeshirts and bought one.  It was reasonably priced at $30.  There were huge line-ups (about a half hour wait) but the one on the lower level took less than five minutes.

Me with my teeshirt
Me and Gord (and my teeshirt)

The best tickets I could get (they went fast when they went on sale!) were for tonight's show.  We were in the second level.

Canadian Brett Kissel opened the show.

The George Hamilton Restaurant & Bar, Hamilton, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at the George Hamilton (on King Street W).  It's in a 160-year-old building and according to one of its window's, it's Hamilton's oldest pub.

It was fairly quiet when we got there.

But within an hour, it was jammed with a waiting list because of the Garth Brooks concert across the street.

Monday 21 March 2016

Duke's Refresher and Bar, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at Duke's Refresher + Bar.

They play B movies (with the sound off) on a couple TVs which are fun to watch because they are so bad!

We both ordered wings.

Gord got his lightly dusted with salt.  He said they were good.

I got mine with medium sauce.  They were good.  I took half of them home and will have for supper tonight.

meowbox - March 2016

Morgan and Crumpet's March meowbox arrived today.

meowbox is a cat subscription box full of surprises, delivered to your door every month. Your meowbox is brimming with yummy cat treats and fun cat toys, specially selected for quality and uniqueness, to cater to your cat’s discriminating taste. 

We carefully research and select items that are high quality and unique. We pick food and treats that are either made with natural ingredients, are tasty, nutritious, grain-free, organic or locally made. You won’t find just the regular run-of-the-mill stuff in your meowbox. Our goal is to excite kitty and put a smile on your face. 

The cost ranges from $22.95 to $32.95 a month, depending on the plan, and shipping is free.

We believe that if we have the opportunity to give, then we should share what we have. This philosophy comes packaged neatly within the heart of every meowbox. For every meowbox you buy, we give a can of food to a shelter cat on your behalf. One box can make a difference.

Our can of food is en route to The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando in Orlando, FL.

 Here's what was in the box ...

Original artwork on the card by Jamie Shelman of The Dancing Cat
Maui Meowi meowbox Karrots by Cat Trees
Wildlife Sackz by Ruff & Whiskerz

Saturday 19 March 2016

Louis Cifer Brew Works, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had supper this evening at Louis Cifer (a play on "lucifer") on Danforth Avenue.  It opened in October 2014 and it's been on my radar for a while.  It apparently has the same owners as the Stout Irish Pub, which we liked.

Friday 18 March 2016

Toronto Marlies 3, Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2

Tonight the Toronto alumni chapter of the university I went to, St. Francis Xavier University (St. F.X.), hosted an event and Gord and I went ... drinks and appies at the Brazen Head in Liberty Village followed by a Toronto Marlies game at the Ricoh Coliseum.

The Marlies were playing the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

The Marlies are the farm team for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The national anthems were sung.

And the game began ...

Book ~ "Jem: Lessons in Living" (2016) John Donald Middleton

From Goodreads ~ John Donald Middleton was no stranger to dogs. He and his family adopted, sheltered and loved a variety of canines over the years. But from the beginning, he knew Jem was different.

The four-pound bundle of thick, fawn-colored fur tumbled into John's life during a tough season. After years of constant business travel and alcohol abuse, the husband and father of three grown children was in recovery and rebuilding his relationships. Jem's total devotion and firecracker spirit became his inspiration.

With honesty and tenderness, John chronicles their years together - a time filled with comedy and eventual tragedy, and seasoned with the loyalty of a small dog with a big heart.

John is a husband, father, native Texan, and pug enthusiast.A graduate of Texas A&M University, he spent more than thirty years in business, most of them on the road. He's a recovering alcoholic, sober since 2010. He is now semi-retired--if working two part-time jobs and volunteering for the DFW Pug Rescue can be considered "retired." He and his very patient wife, Denise, live in Hurst, Texas, with four rescue pugs, and their "grand-dogs" often come to visit.

Over the years, Middleton had had many dogs.  He and his wife, Denise, have adult three children who have also had dogs over the years.  This is the story of Jem, the pug Middleton had bought as a puppy for his son, Matt, who had moved back home, which meant the author got to spend a lot of time with Jem.  Jem was the brother of Middleton's other son, Josh's dog, Scout.

Middleton was out of town a lot on business but also had the opportunity to work from home often.  When he did, he would have Jem and Scout spend the day with him, along with his older dog, Wendy.  Jem and Middleton spent a lot time together and he took the dog everywhere.  Jem came along right around the time the author recognized that he was an alcoholic, which made their bond even tighter.  Despite having many dogs over the years, I could feel the bond between him and Jem ... and the author was honest in acknowledging that Jem was different and how much he meant to him.

Middleton is now retired and is a voluteer with DFW Pugs Rescue Club.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book is being donated to this rescue.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Book ~ "Safe With Me" (2014) Amy Hatvany

From GoodreadsThe screech of tires brought Hannah Scott’s world as she knew it to a devastating end. Even a year after she signed the papers to donate her daughter’s organs, Hannah is still reeling with grief when she unexpectedly stumbles into the life of the Bell family, whose child, Maddie, survived only because hers had died. Mesmerized by this fragile connection to her own daughter and afraid to reveal who she actually is, Hannah develops a surprising friendship with Maddie’s mother, Olivia.

The Bells, however, have problems of their own. Once on the verge of leaving her wealthy but abusive husband, Olivia now finds herself bound to him as never before in the wake of the successful transplant that saved their fifteen-year-old daughter’s life. Meanwhile Maddie, tired of the limits her poor health puts upon her and fearful of her father’s increasing rage, regularly escapes into the one place where she can be anyone she wants: the Internet. But when she is finally healthy enough to return to school, the real world proves to be just as complicated as the isolated bubble she had been so eager to escape.

When Hannah's 12-year-old daughter, Emily, was hit by a car and died because of her injuries, Hannah donated her daughter's organs.  A year later, she is still grieving and barely surviving.  She is renting out the house that she and Emily lived in, has put most of their stuff in storage and is living in a small apartment above the hair salon that she and her partner and friend, Sophie, have recently renovated and opened.

When Olivia was in her earlier twenties, she met and married James.  He was a bit older than she was and after she married him, she discovered he was fairly wealthy.  A year later, they had a daughter, Maddie, and Olivia devoted her time being a mom and keeping her husband happy.  But not all is what it seems because James is abusive and beats Olivia on a regular basis.  She was going to leave when Maddie was younger but then Maddie got deathly ill and finally had a liver transplant last year.  Olivia put her plans on hold and planned on leaving when Maddie was 18 to avoid a custody battle, which she was sure she would lose.  So she smiles and sucks it up because she doesn't think she has any other alternative.

Now that she's well, James sends Maddie to a private school.  After being homeschooled for the last eight years and with no friends, Maddie has a hard time adjusting to the real world.  By chance, Olivia and Maddie wander into Hannah's salon and mention Maddie's transplant.  Hannah wonders to herself if Maddie had received Emily's liver but decides not to say anything until she knows for sure.  In the meantime, Hannah and Olivia become close friends.

This is the second book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style.  It is written from the perspectives of Hannah, Olivia and Maddie ... each chapter is focused on one of them (their name is at the beginning of the chapter so you know who's head you are in).  When it is written from Hannah and Olivia's point of view, it is in the third person; it is written in the first person when it is Maddie's point of view.  It was an interesting style and I liked it.  Through flashbacks, we learn about Emily's accident and James' abuse.  It's an intense story.  As a head's up, there is swearing and violence.

I would recommend this book.  I look forward to checking out others by this author.

The Bagel House, Toronto, ON

I had lunch today at The Bagel House (on Yonge Street, south of St. Clair Avenue).  It's a small place with a few tables jammed against the wall.