Sunday 31 December 2017

Book ~ "K is for Killer" (1994) Sue Grafton

From Goodreads ~ When Kinsey Millhone answers her office door late one night, she lets in more darkness than she realizes. Janice Kepler is a grieving mother who can't let the death of her beautiful daughter, Lorna, alone. The police agree that Lorna was murdered but a suspect was never apprehended and the trail is now ten months cold. 

Kinsey pieces together Lorna's young life: a dull day job a the local water treatment plant spiced by sidelines in prostitution and pornography. She tangles with Lorna's friends: a local late-night DJ, a sweet funny teenaged hooker, Lorna's sloppy landlord and his exotic wife. 

But to find out which one, if any, turned killer, Kinsey will have to inhabit a netherworld from which she may never return.

It's the 1980s and Kinsey Millhone is a private detective in Santa Teresa, CA, in her thirties.  She is hired by Janice to investigate the death of her daughter, Lorna.  Lorna had been found dead and badly decomposed ten months earlier in her home and the police rules she had died naturally as a result of an allergic reaction.  Janice hasn't been coping well with Lorna's death and wants Kinsey to find out the truth.

Lorna was a receptionist at a water treatment plant by day and a successful high class prostitute by night.  As Kinsey investigates, she becomes friends with Danielle, a teenage prostitute, who hung out with Lorna.  Despite being hired by Lorna's mother, there is a lot of opposition to the investigation by Lorna's father and sisters.

I liked this book and found the story was okay.  The "whodunnit" is a bit convoluted, though, and there seemed to be a lot of information that could have been tighter or deleted.  It's written in first person perspective in Kinsey's voice.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

This is the eleventh in the "alphabet series" featuring Kinsey Millhone.  Though it is part of a series, it works as a stand alone.  I discovered this series in the mid-1990s and have read them all.  I started rereading them this year.  I read the latest, Y is for Yesterday, in October and with the author's death this week, Y is for Yesterday will be the end of the series.

Saturday 30 December 2017

Toronto Rock 20, Buffalo Bandits 13, Air Canada Centre, 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 sixth year going to the games and our fifth year having seasons tickets.

Tonight the Rock were hosting the Buffalo Bandits.  Going into tonight's game, Toronto's record was zero wins and two losses.

The Rock Cheerleaders entertained before the players came out.

Scotty Newlands sang the national anthems.

Moxie's Grill & Bar, Toronto, ON

Gord, Trish and I had supper this evening at Moxie's Grill & Bar (on University Avenue at Wellington Street W) before the Toronto Rock game.

Trish is vegan and ordered Korean Fried Cauliflower (without the dip) and a Portobello Veggie Burger with sweet potato fries.  She really enjoyed the cauliflower and thought the burger and fries were okay.

Gord ordered the Chicken Enchiladas without salsa (he's not a fan of tomatoes).  He enjoyed it and said he'd get it again.  I've had it a few times and like it.

Book ~ "Pre-Meditated Murder" (2018) Tracy Weber

From Goodreads ~ Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is ready to marry her boyfriend Michael, so she's disappointed when a special dinner doesn't end with a proposal. But disappointment turns to dismay and outrage as she learns the real problem: Michael is already married and his estranged wife is blackmailing him. 

When his wife's body is found - by Kate and her dog, no less - Michael is strangely unable to remember where he was the night she died. Since Michael has no alibi, Kate steps up to uncover what happened. What she walks into is a tangled web of deceit, obsession, and immigration fraud  ... with Michael trapped in the middle.

Kate owns a yoga studio (the author had a yoga studio in Seattle).  She is living with Michael, the owner of a pet store, and her special needs German Shepherd, Bella (based on the author's own dog, Tasha, who passed away in 2016).  On her birthday, Kate thinks Michael is going to pop "the question" but he doesn't.  It turns out that Michael is already married.  A couple years ago, he had married Gabriella, a girl he was dating, so she wouldn't be deported back to Mexico, with the agreement that they would stay married until she attained her U.S. citizenship. 

Michael had recently contacted her to ask for a divorce but Gabriella had responded that it would come at a cost ... $50,000 cash.  As a small business owner and just recently renovating their house, Michael can't afford to pay her.  Michael, Kate and Bella, along with Kate's best friend, Rene, and Rene's family (which includes her husband, twin babies and two puppies) travel to Michael's hometown to discuss the situation with Gabriella.  It doesn't go well and Gabriella is discovered murdered the next day.

With Kate's mother's boyfriend, Dean, as Michael's lawyer and Shannon, Michael's sister, and Rene helping, Kate starts to investigate to find out who really killed Gabriella.

This is the third book I've read by this author and I liked it.  It is the fifth in the Downward Dog series (I've read the first one and fourth one).   Though it is part of a series, it works as a stand alone ... I haven't read #2 or #3 and I never felt lost.  I liked the writing style.  It is written in first person perspective from Kate's point of view.

Friday 29 December 2017

Knitted Square Dish Cloth

I finished knitting a dish cloth tonight.  It was a fairly easy pattern.

Using a US6/4mm needle, cast on 80 stitches.  I used cotton yarn.

Row 1: Knit placing a stitch marker after 40 stitches (at the halfway point)

Row 2: Knit to two stitches before the stitch marker, knit two stitches together, slip the stitch marker to the other needle, slip slip knit, knit to the end of row.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until two stitches remain.  Repeat row 1 once more. Cast off.

Cat colonies feeding, Toronto, ON

For the last five years, my friend, Trish, has been making weekly trips to replenish the food at a couple cat colonies.  Today I joined her as she checked out two colonies in east Toronto as a volunteer of the Annex Cat Rescue.

Feral cats are the “wild ” offspring of domestic cats. They live outdoors, separate from humans (they are usually frightened of humans).  They are descended from domestic cats whose owners abandoned or failed to spay and neuter them.  Feral cats can be humanely trapped, spayed/neutered and vaccinated against rabies and other feline diseases. The cats can then be released back into their colonies.  Feral kittens are placed in foster homes and eventually adopted out as pets.

Both colonies we visited were in the backyards of home owners.  The first owner puts food and water out in her back porch.

In addition, she has allowed a couple shelters in her backyard.

Volunteers from the Annex Cat Rescue stop in every day to make sure there is food for the cats near the shelters.  Today was Trish's day.  The temperature was -9C (-14C with the windchill) and it was snowing.

There's Trish getting the cats' meal ready.  There was lots of kibble out so she left some soft food.

The Sidekick, Toronto, ON

I met my friend, Trish, this afternoon at The Sidekick (Queen Street E/Greenwood Avenue).  It's a cozy spot.

In addition to being a coffee shop, it's also a comic book store.

Thursday 28 December 2017

Delta Bingo & Gaming, Toronto, ON

For many years, I went to bingo, sometimes as often as weekly.  Gord and I haven't gone in about ten years ... life got busy and we forgot about it.

We went to the 1pm session this afternoon at Delta Bingo (St. Clair Avenue W/Old Westin Road) ... this was where we used to go.

The caller

The last time we went, digital bingo had just arrived at Delta Bingo in the form of bulky iPad-like devices (I'd never tried it).  It's a lot slicker now and uses a Gecko system.  In addition to paper cards (we each got a three-strip plus the games that weren't included), we bought a $50 Gecko package (12 strips of regular book, early bird, players progressive, super jackpot and bonanza).  We had lots of questions about how the Gecko system worked since we've never seen it before and the woman at the desk was patient in answering our questions.

Ready to go!

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Book ~ "Parting Shot" (2017) Linwood Barclay

From Goodreads ~ If you made a mistake that took someone's life, you'd remember it ... wouldn't you?

After a tragedy rocks the community of Promise Falls, Cal Weaver is asked to investigate the threats being made to the accused's family. He's heard all about it on the news: the young man who drank too much, stole a Porsche and killed a girl and who claimed afterwards not to remember a single thing. The whole town is outraged that he got off lightly but for reasons Cal can't explain, he accepts the job. Then Cal finds himself caught up in a vicious revenge plot, chasing someone set on delivering retribution. In Cal's experience, it's only ever a matter of time before threats turn into action. 

Brian Gaffney wanders into the police station in Promise Falls claiming he had been abducted, possibly by aliens.  Detective Duckworth initially doesn't believe him but when the man shows him his back, Duckworth discovers a crude tattoo with a message.  As Duckworth hears Gaffney's story, it reminds him of another similar experience someone else recently had so he goes off to investigate to see if the two victims are linked somehow.

Cal Weaver is a private detective who has been hired to protect Jeremy Pilford.  Jeremy was recently acquitted on charges of killing his friend.  They had been partying, got drunk and Jeremy ran her over with the party host's car, killing her instantly.  Jeremy's lawyer got him off with the defense that he had been coddled by his mother all his life and didn't understand the consequences of his actions.  He became known as the "Big Baby" and the target of threats.

Duckworth and Weaver were characters in Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy, which I'd read but wasn't crazy about. I  enjoyed this book a lot more.  There are references to things that happened in the trilogy but this book is independent of that and works as a stand alone.

I've read many books by this author over the years ... some I've liked a lot and some not so much. I like the writing style in this one and was okay with the switching of perspectives ... sometimes it was third person perspective with the focus on wherever the action was and sometimes it was first person perspective (in Detective Duckworth's voice). As a head's up, there is swearing and violence.

I liked the main characters, Duckworth and Weaver, and would be interested if the author started a new series with these two (I can see that happening).  I think they could work well together.  I wasn't crazy about Duckworth's son, Trevor.  Though he is an adult, he acted like a child at times.

The author is Canadian and the references to Canada are fun ... like Cal having a Toronto Blue Jays ball cap in his car.

Tuesday 26 December 2017

CRAFT Beer Market, Toronto, ON

After we saw Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (it was good!), Gord and I had supper this evening at CRAFT Beer Market (on Yonge Street/Adelaide Street E) ... it just opened about three weeks ago in a space that used to house a bank.  It's a big space split over two floors (seats about 400) and there will be a patio in the back in the summer (for another 250 spots).

Book ~ "No Regrets" (2018) Julie Moffett

From GoodreadsWhen I agreed to stand by my best friend, Basia, on her big day, I had no idea what I was in for. Bouquets and unflattering evening wear I can handle. But between disgruntled dates, a beach venue and suspicious packages, what else can go wrong? Oh, right - my parents don’t know I’ve moved in with Slash. Oops?

Thankfully, I’ve got everything semi under control, at least as far as Basia and Xavier know. They can leave for their honeymoon happy, knowing Elvis, Slash and I will keep things safe at home.

Meanwhile, Elvis and Xavier’s boss at ComQuest has asked X-Corp - well, me - to take a quick trip to retrieve a sensitive company package from the British Virgin Islands. No hacking involved. Just show up, accept the package and bring it home safely. A cushy assignment and a safe one. Right?

Wrong. Things start to unravel the minute I set foot on the boat to the island. Before I know it, I’m up to my neck in thugs, sand and trouble. I’m going to have to work fast to stop the bad guys before the sun sets for good on this unexpected beach vacation.

Lexi is a master hacker and director for X-Corp, an intelligence and security company.  Her best friends, Basia and Xavier, are getting married and Lexi is the maid of honour.  She loves that her friends are getting married but she's not looking forward to having such a big part in the ceremony and reception.  But her boyfriend, Slash, who is a government agent and fellow hacker, will be there for support.  What could go wrong at the wedding?  Well, lots!

After the wedding, Lexi accepts an assignment from Xavier's boss to go to the British Virgin Islands to pick up a package that was misdirected there.  An easy enough assignment, right?   Wrong!  Nothing with Lexi is easy and she has an Excel spreadsheet to prove it.

Though this is the tenth (and latest) in the Lexi Carmichael series, it works as a stand alone as you are provided with background.  I've like the series and have read them all.

It is written in first person perspective from Lexi's point of view.  I liked the writing style and there was humour.  There wasn't a lot of hacking but as usual, there was lots of adventure in the second part of the book.  It's been interesting to watch Lexi grow from being a geek with just one friend, no life and no social skills to not only having close friends, a boyfriend with whom she is now living with but also confidence.

Happy Boxing Day!

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box", from their bosses or employers.

Today, Boxing Day is the statutory holiday. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and some other Commonwealth nations.

In Canada, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) in the U.S. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price reductions.  Many retailers open very early and offer doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. It is not uncommon for long lines to form early in the morning, hours before the opening of shops holding the big sales, especially at big-box consumer electronics retailers.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Catnip Cat Mouse Toy

I made a cat toy tonight. I found the pattern here.  I used cotton yarn and 4mm needles.

Cast on 2 stitches
Row 1. K across
Row 2. P across
Row 3. K, m1, k (3sts)
Row 4. P across
Row 5. K, m1, k, m1, k (5 sts)
Row 6. P across
Row 7. K, m1, k3, m1, k (7 sts)
Row 8. P across
Row 9. K, m1, k5, m1, k (9 sts)
Row 10. P across
Row 11. K, m1, k7, m1, k (11 sts)
Row 12. P across
Row 13. K, m1, k9, m1, k (13 sts)
Row 14. P across
Row 15. K, m1, k11, m1, k (15 sts)
Row 16. P across
Row 17. K, m1, k13, m1, k (17 sts)
Row 18. P across
Row 19. K, m1, k15, m1, k (19 sts)
Row 20. P across
Row 21. K, m1, k17, m1, k (21 sts)
Row 22. P across
Change to black
Row 23. K, m1, k19, m1, k (23 sts)
Row 24. P across
Row 25. K, m1, k21, m1, k (25 sts)
Row 26. P across
Row 27. K across
Row 28. P across
Row 29 to 35. Repeat rows 27 and 28
Row 36. P across
Cut about 15cm of yarn
Thread yarn through remaining stitches and draw tight to make round 'tail end' of mouse.

Ears x 2
Cast on 5 sts
Row 1. K across
Row 2. P across
Row 3. K across
Row 4. P across
Row 5 K across
Cut about 10 cm of yarn
Thread yarn through stitches and draw tight to make round part of ear.
Darn in yarn end.
Sew cast on yarn through bottom stitches and draw tight to make lower part of ear.

  1. Sew two sides of mouse body together from tail end to nose end - I'm going to try knitting it on double pointed needles next time to avoid having to sew it
  2. Insert stuffing and catnip into mouse body.
  3. Finish sewing body right up to the tip of the nose.
  4. Sew on ears using cast on yarn ends.
  5. Crochet single chain for tail.

Knitted Catnip Bunny Cat Toy

I made a cat toy this evening.  I found the pattern here.

I used cotton yarn and two 4mm double pointed needles.

Cast on 22 stitches.

*K1,slip 1* repeat for about three inches.  Make sure the first knit stitch of each row is quite tight so you don't end up with a ladder at each side. This method creates an inside-out pouch (no seams).

Break the yarn leaving an 8 inch tail and thread a needle on it. Carefully slip all the stitches off the knitting needle, pinch each side and gently open up the end of the pouch. Pass the yarn through the stitches but don't draw it up yet. Turn right side out.

Using the black embroidery thread, give bunny some eyes (wrap a stitch 4 times with the thread for each eye).  I used blue yarn.


Cast on 9 stitches.
Work 5 rows of k1,p1 moss stitch.
Row 6 - k1,p1,k1,p3tog,k1,p1,k1
Row 7 - k1,p1,k1,p1,k1,p1,k1
Row 8 - k1,p1,k3tog,p1,k1
Row 9 - k1,p1,k1,p1,k1
Row 10 - k1,p3tog,k1
Row 11 - k1,p1,k1
Row 12 - k1, k2tog, pass first stitch over
Break yarn and pass it through the remaining stitch on the needle. Weave this end down through the middle of the ear.  Using the cast-on tail, fold the ear in half and stitch the cast on edge together.  Make second ear as first.

Knot both ears together.
Put a small amount of toy filling (I used soft yarn) in the bunny and add catnip.

Stuff the ears on top (the knot will help give something for the body to "choke" around when you pull up the threads). Draw it up as tight as possible and add enough stitches to secure.

I made a pompom for a tail.

Saturday 23 December 2017

"Die Hard" Quote-Along, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, Toronto, ON

Die Hard is Gord's favourite Christmas movie.  It was playing tonight at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (Bloor Street W/Bathurst Street) and was a "quote-along".  This is the third year in a row we've gone and it's always fun!

It’s just not Christmas on Bloor Street without a visit to Nakatomi Plaza. This year, we’re blowing the roof off with a special quote-along edition. Kick off your Christmas with a night filled with audience participation, festive drink specials, a hilarious pre-show and more. That’s right, Hans - we have the detonators! Bring your friends and family (but leave the younger kids at home) for Die Hard on the big screen, with the sound cranked and subtitles for quoting along.

They gave out prop bag full of goodies with a candy cigarette, chewy candy toe and a sucker.

We'd bought the combo for $18 which included the movie, a tallboy can of beer and a medium popcorn ... what a great deal!  Gord gave me his beer (thanks, Gord!).

Before the movie started, they showed clips from various Bruce Willis movies and Die Hard-related stuff.

Thomas Rivas was the emcee.  He was more organized last year and the year before giving us instructions on what to yell and when.  For example, we were supposed to be instructed to yell "Merry Christmas" every time we saw a Christmas tree, "shoot the glass" when the bad guys spoke in German and "Where's the News?" when Huey Lewis look-a-like Eddie was on the screen.  Those of us who have been to the quote-along before knew when to yell stuff.

There were subtitles on the bottom of the screen and we were encouraged to say them with the characters and yell at the characters when we felt like it ... which we did (it was a fairly lively crowd!).

At the end of the movie, just before the credits, everyone stayed around to sing along to Let it Snow!  Let it Snow!  Let it Snow!.

It was a fun night and has become a holiday tradition for Gord and I!