Friday, 25 May 2018

Sunnyside Boardwalk, Toronto, ON

It is a gorgeous day ... sunny and 30C!  Gord and I headed to Sunnyside.  It's one of my favourite places to go for a walk.

We headed east towards Sunnyside Pavilion Café.  There were a few people out walking and some on the beach.  One older guy even went swimming!


We had lunch at Sunnyside Pavilion Café and then headed west again to our car.

Sunnyside Pavilion Café, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had lunch today on the patio at Sunnyside Pavilion Café.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Book ~ "I Heart My Little A-Holes" (2013) Karen Alpert

From Goodreads ~ When your son wakes you up at 3:00am because he wants to watch Caillou, he’s an a-hole. When your daughter outlines every corner of your living room with a purple crayon, she’s an a-hole. When your rug rats purposely decorate the kitchen ceiling with their smoothies, they’re a-holes. 

So it’s only natural to want to kill them sometimes. Of course, you can’t because you’d go to prison and then you’d really never get to poop alone again. Plus, there’s that whole loving them more than anything in the whole world thing.

I'm a childfree (by choice) and I haven't spent a lot of time around children (I've never ever changed a diaper ... and I'm okay with that).  I recently read I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting by this author and enjoyed it so I thought I'd check this one out too.

The author is 40ish, married and has two young children.  The book covers a lot of topics and the chapters are:
  1. Bundle of joy, my a$$, more like bundle of Hell
  2. I heart my little a-holes
  3. Don't read this section while you're eating chocolate
  4. Another holiday?  Are you f'ing kidding me?
  5. The truth, the whole truth and none of the bullsh!t you see on Pinterest
  6. A really short chapter about Girl Scout cookies because they are so f'ing awesome they deserve their own chapter
  7. Disney and Caillou and other annoying crap I want to crap on
  8. Annnnd this is what my life has turned into.  Awesome.
  9. Yo Rug Rats, you owe me $26,000 for plastic surgery

I enjoyed the writing style and found it very conversational.  The author shares her personal experiences of being a wife and raising her children and includes pictures.  I think she would be a hoot to hang out with and have a glass of wine (or two or three) with.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult subject matter.

If you are looking for a serious book about being a mother and wife, this isn't it.  If you are looking for a book you can relate to as a "real" mom and wife, you should check it out ... she exaggerates so please don't take it too seriously.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Goose Island Brewhouse, Toronto, ON

It was a warm sunny day and I walked to downtown.  I had lunch this afternoon at Goose Island Brewhouse (on the corner of the Esplanade and Church Street).

It was nice to sit on the patio.

Berczy Park, Toronto, ON

This morning I went for a walk to downtown to Berczy Park (near Wellington Street and Front Street) to check out the fountain, which replaced the park's original fountain last year.

It's the first time I've seen it and it's a cool fountain!  It is a large, two-tier fountain with life-size cast-iron statues of 27 dogs and a cat.  The dogs are all looking up towards a large bone perched on the fountain's peak.  The cat is looking north at statues of two small birds perched on the arm of a lamppost about three metres away from the fountain.  The fountain also includes a ground level trough to provide drinking water for real dogs.  Each of the dog statues contribute to the fountain function by each sprouting water upwards from their mouths.

Book ~ "I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting" (2016) Karen Alpert

From Goodreads ~ If you are the kind of mom who shapes your kiddo’s organic quinoa into reproductions of the Mona Lisa, do not read this book. If you stayed up past midnight to create posters for your PTO presidential campaign, do not read this book. If you look down your nose at parents who have Domino’s pizza on speed dial, do not read this book.

But if you are the kind of parent who accidentally goes ballistic on your rugrats every morning because they won’t put their shoes on and then you feel super guilty about it all day so you take them to McDonald’s for a special treat but really it’s because you opened up your freezer and panicked because you forgot to buy more frozen pizzas, then absolutely read this book.

"I Want My Epidural Back" is a celebration of mediocre parents and how awesome they are and how their kids love them just as much as children with perfect parents. Karen Alpert’s honest but hilarious observations, stories, quips and pictures will have you nodding your head and peeing in your pants. Or on the toilet if you’re smart and read it there. 

I'm a childfree (by choice) and I haven't spent a lot of time around children (I've never ever changed a diaper ... and I'm okay with that).  So I'm not sure why I picked up this book as it's about parenting ... but I'm glad I did as I found it hilarious.

The author is 40ish, married and has two young children.  The book covers a lot of topics and the chapters are:
  1. Be the best damn mediocre parent you can be
  2. Tell those overachieving moms to suck it
  3. You want to watch my child?  Bwhahahahahahaha!!  Oh wait, you're serious
  4. And for dinner I gave my kids an eating disorder
  5. Here an orifice, there an orifice, everywhere an orifice orifice
  6. I tried the crying it out method ... I'm still crying
  7. How the F to entertain your rugrats when you have nothing to do
  8. My hubby is awesome (but not as awesome as me)
  9. Teach your douchenugget to be less douchey and more nuggety
  10. Awwww sh!t, whatta you mean they grow up?

I enjoyed the writing style and found it very conversational.  The author shares her personal experiences of being a wife and raising her children and includes pictures.  I think she would be a hoot to hang out with and have a glass of wine (or two or three) with.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult subject matter.

If you are looking for a serious book about being a mother and wife, this isn't it.  If you are looking for a book you can relate to as a "real" mom and wife, you should check it out ... she exaggerates so please don't take it too seriously.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Book ~ "Bodie on the Road: Driving the Pacific Coast Highway with My Rescue Dog" (2017) Belinda Jones

From Goodreads ~ Bodie was on death row in a Los Angeles shelter, having been abandoned by his owner. Belinda was in a heap on the floor of her vintage apartment, having been dumped by the man of her dreams. Two lost souls ready to find a new life.

Together they embark on a 2,000-mile West Coast road trip taking in spectacular Big Sur, a pack run in the wilds of Oregon, afternoon tea at Doris Day’s dog-loving hotel in Carmel, a fragrant encounter with the creator of Kennel No.5 furfume and a bar stop in a small town near San Francisco where a dog was elected mayor, two years running.

Join Belinda and Bodie on this soul-searching adventure along one of the most iconic highways in America and you too will feel the wind in your hair and a wag in your tail. 

I love reading books about animals so that's why this book caught my eye ... plus how could I resist the face on the cover?!

Belinda Jones is an English author living who was in Los Angeles.  Nathan, the love of her life, had recently broken up with her and she needed a change.  She had been a cat person but decided to adopt a dog and found Bodie at rescue.  She then became friends with a woman and her dog, Winnie, who decided to move to Portland, Oregon.  Belinda uses this as a reason to go on a road trip with Bodie.

Belinda plans their itinerary with fun things for both them ... lots of beaches, trails, dog-friendly hotels and restaurants, doggy daycare, etc. plus learning experiences for her.  Her road trip sounded like a lot of fun and I would have loved to have accompanied them!

I thought this was an interesting and fun book.  As I was reading it, I Googled some of the things she was experiencing to learn more.  I liked the writing style, though I did get a bit tired of her mooning over Nathan as often as she did.

Dog lovers, lovers of travel and dog loving travelers will like this book.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Gord's experience in the Toronto General Hospital's liver transplant program

My husband, Gord, had a liver transplant on April 20. This is his experience ...

Yesterday I went for a 4,500 step walk with Teena down by Lake Ontario. I know this doesn't sound like much of a hike except for the fact that 30 days before, during the night of April 20, I was on the receiving end of a liver transplant.

I have always made sure that my driver's license and health card showed that I was registered as a donor. Never did I expect that I would be the one who would need a transplant from another.

Canadians are lucky. We have access to the busiest transplant hospital in North America and one of the most famous in the world. In 2017, the UHN program performed 639 adult transplants compared to 607 at the UCLA Medical Center and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center which completed 601. It should be noted for the purposes of this article that 195 of the transplants at Toronto General Hospital were liver transplants

Last year it was discovered that I had cancer in my liver. Princess Margaret Hospital took care of that. Originally I was told that the procedure, called a TACE, would halt and shrink the tumor but would not kill it.  It could be contained, though until I received a new liver.  However, it turned out that the cancer was indeed wiped out. The liver was weakened by the cancer and the likelihood of it returning was great so I was placed on the transplant list.

While waiting for my turn to come, I met with many doctors, surgeons and social workers at Toronto General  who all made sure that I was physically and mentally ready for the operation. My turn came up on April 20 and at 10pm I was wheeled into the operating room for my six hour operation. Let's just say that the day after my operation wasn't the best I have ever felt but, hey, it's like that for anyone that has gone through any type of major surgery.

The ward is divided into post-op stages, the first one being right after surgery in acute care where I was constantly monitored. I wasn't in there long, maybe overnight (that part is hazy) before being moved to the next unit and a less intensive level of care and designed to get me moving. My first feat of strength? Being helped out of bed and into a chair beside it to sit for an hour. The next day, though, the physical therapist had me heading down the halls for a lap with a walker. The day after, a lap or two without a walker and then I graduated to my last unit.

I spent three nights there, resting, climbing stairs with my physiotherapist, walking and being constantly looked after with medications, blood tests, small procedures and training.

Training for what? How to detect organ rejection. Surprisingly it's not IF it happens but how to recognize it when it happens. It could be in a few weeks, few months, few years, decades, but definitely will  occur.

My medications drive up my sugar levels so currently I am diabetic and had to learn how to inject myself and go through a diabetic program. I may or may not have to continue with my daily shots when one of my meds is cut off. I'm hoping I don't need it.

Every transplant recipient has an aftercare transplant co-coordinator and transplant doctor. The program has a call system that I had to learn about where I can leave messages that are answered the same day, or they can contact me though it for any followup, medication change or questions they may have. It's wonderfully efficient.

Six days after my operation, on Friday April 27th, I was sent home with Teena. Everyday has been a challenge but everyday too, Teena and I see an improvement.  My thanks go out to everyone who has been involved and helped me through all of this. Especially the nurses. I was so well looked after!

I know people had to suffer through a loss of a loved one for this to happen. That plays on my mind and every day I am thankful for their kindness and generosity.

There is still a long way to go to recovery but it seems to get a little faster every day. After all, 30 days ago I would have never dreamed that I would be going for a walk along the lake. Now I'm starting to look forward to so much more.

Book ~ "X" (2015) Sue Grafton

From Goodreads ~ When a glamorous redhead wishes to locate the son she put up for adoption thirty-two years ago, it seems like an easy two hundred bucks for P. I. Kinsey Millhone. But when a cop tells her she was paid with marked bills and Kinsey's client is nowhere to be found, it becomes apparent this mystery woman has something to hide. Riled, Kinsey won't stop until she's found out who fooled her and why.

Meanwhile, the widow of the recently murdered P. I. - and Kinsey's old friend - Pete Wolinsky, needs help with her IRS audit. This seemingly innocuous task takes a treacherous turn when Kinsey finds a coded list amongst her friend's files. It soon leads her to an unhinged man with a catalogue of ruined lives left in his wake. And despite the devastation, there isn't a single conviction to his name. It seems this sociopath knows exactly how to cause chaos without leaving a trace.

As Kinsey delves deeper into the investigation she quickly becomes the next target of this tormentor. But can Kinsey prove her case against him before she becomes the next victim?

It's 1989 and Kinsey Millhone is a private investigator in Santa Theresa, CA.  She is hired by a rich woman to find the adult son she gave up for adoption when she was young.  Kinsey gets the job done but her involvement doesn't end.

Kinsey's former colleague, Pete, was killed the previous summer.  His widow has asked Kinsey to go through some of his personal effects.  She comes across a padded envelope full of mementos and a cryptic note.  She becomes involved with a not-so-nice person as she is determined to deliver the envelope to its owner 20+ years later.

In the meantime, Kinsey and Henry have new neighbours.  An older couple have moved in next door and are continually imposing on them for favours.

I thought this book was okay.  I like the writing style.  The writing could have been tighter, though, as there were a lot of details and descriptions.  As a head's up, there is some swearing.

During this time, there was a drought and everyone was asked to be diligent about water conservation.  Henry, Kinsey's landlord, was doing his part in cutting back and still found that his water bill was increasing, which was driving him crazy.  There was waaaaaay too much time spend with Henry going into great detail about irrigation, water usage, etc.

This is the twenty-fourth 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 last year.  I read Y is for Yesterday last year so this brings the series to an end once again for me.  With the author's recent death, Y is for Yesterday will be the end of the series.

Victoria Day at Fort York, Toronto, ON

I walked to Fort York this afternoon.  Because Gord and I are members of Heritage Toronto, membership into the fort is free.  I always enjoy going to the fort.

Canada's largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings and 1813 battle site. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, Fort York is open year-round and offers tours, exhibits, period settings and seasonal demonstrations. During the summer months, the site comes alive with the colour and pageantry of the Fort York Guard. Fort York also provides a wide variety of education programmes for groups of all ages.

To get in and out of the Fort, you go through the canteen where you can buy souvenirs.

Happy Victoria Day!

Sunday, 20 May 2018

2018 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon - Annex Cat Rescue

I will be doing the 5km walk at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in support of the Annex Cat Rescue (Crumpet and Muffin were adopted from this rescue).

I would appreciate it if you would considering sponsoring me.

The Annex Cat Rescue is a 100% volunteer charity dedicated to addressing the plight of homeless cats in the Greater Toronto Area by:
  • Humanely trapping homeless kittens and abandoned or stray adult cats for placement in their foster and adoption program; 
  • Feeding and providing medical care for feral cats in designated colonies; 
  • Curbing population growth in those colonies through trapping, spaying/neutering, and vaccinating; 
  • Educating the public on the compassionate treatment of homeless cats and responsible pet ownership; and 
  • Improving urban environments through community cooperation.

The Trillium Park, William G. Davis Trail and Ontario Place, Toronto, ON

It's a warm sunny Sunday (20C) ... a great day to be outside so Gord and I went for a walk.  It's the first fun outing he has had since he had his liver transplant a month ago.

We parked near Coronation Park and walked through it.


We walked a bit into Trillium Park.

The Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail is the province's new landmark park.

Previously a parking lot, the park and trail is 7.5 acres of public green space on a spectacular part of Toronto’s waterfront.

The design is inspired by Ontario landscapes and is the culmination of discussions with people from across Ontario, including the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. As a result of public consultation, key features are included in the final design, including a pavilion and washroom facilities.

The Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail is a first step in transforming Ontario Place into a vibrant, year-round waterfront destination.
  1. William G. Davis Trail 
  2. The Ravine with Moccasin Identifier 
  3. The Pavilion 
  4. Romantic Garden 
  5. Fire Pit 
  6. Bluff
  7. Summit

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Book ~ "Through the Glass" (2011) Shannon Moroney

From Goodreads ~ When Shannon Moroney married in October of 2005, she had no idea that her happy life as a newlywed was about to come crashing down around her. One month after her wedding, a police officer arrived at her door to tell her that her husband, Jason, had been arrested and charged in the brutal assault and kidnapping of two women. In the aftermath of these crimes, Shannon dealt with a heavy burden of grief, the stress and publicity of a major criminal investigation, and the painful stigma of guilt-by-association, all while attempting to understand what had made Jason turn to such violence.

In this intimate and gripping journey into prisons, courtrooms and the human heart, Shannon reveals the far-reaching impact of Jason's crimes, the agonizing choices faced by the loved ones of offenders and the implicit dangers of a correctional system and a society that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation, and victimhood over recovery. 

In 2005, Shannon was a 30-year-old guidance counsellor and newlywed living in Peterborough, about an hour and a half northeast of Toronto.  When they had met a couple years earlier, Jason had been honest with Shannon and told her that he has spent ten years in prison for murder.  They moved forward with their relationship, eventually getting married and planning on having a family.

Jason hadn't had a happy childhood.  He was a adopted and his adoptive mother was bipolar and abusive and his adoptive father passed away when he was young.  His mother had moved in with her boyfriend when Jason was 18 and found an older woman to be his roommate.  They ended up having a relationship but he eventually killed her after a fight.

A month after her wedding, she was at a conference in Toronto and a police officer showed up to tell her that her husband, Jason Staples, had been arrested for kidnapping and raping two woman ... Jason's "blackness" had resurfaced.

This is Shannon (and Jason's) true story of dealing with the aftermath.  Throughout it all, Shannon and her family supported and forgave Jason, the person, but not what he had done.  In 2008, Jason pleaded guilty and instructed his lawyer not to contest the Crown's application for dangerous offender status. He is currently serving an indefinite sentence in a medium-security federal prison.  Shannon has gone on to remarry and have twins.

I thought this was an interesting story (I don't remember it happening).  Though I know this book was about Shannon and the fall-out of her husband being a rapist and kidnapper, I had a hard time having a lot of sympathy for her.  Yes, she was a victim because of what her husband had done but it seemed like she felt she was on the same level as Jason's victims.  Jason committed some heinous acts yet she chose to stick by him ... she visited him regularly in prison, hugged him, told him she loved him and fantasized having a life with him eventually.

She wasn't sleeping or eating ... I bet if she hadn't stayed as involved with Jason as she had, she wouldn't have been so stressed.  I didn't think it was reasonable that she was offended and hurt when friends and colleagues turned their backs on her, she was surprised when the school where she was working wouldn't let her keep her job, etc.

My Roti Place, Toronto, ON

I was craving a roti today.  I went for a long walk and came across My Roti Place on Queen Street W (at Cameron Street) so stopped in to check it out.  Apparently they have been open about ten days.

I love love love rotis.  Here you "build your own", choosing the roti, filler and sauce.  I got a chicken roti with Superior Butter Masala (the server recommended this sauce).  The chicken is white meat and it's was just meat.  If you want chicken and potatoes (which I thought was standard in a roti), you have to ask ... I went with just chicken.  I like butter chicken but have never it in a roti and it was a good combination.  I ordered mild sauce and there was a bit of a kick to it (I'm glad I didn't get medium).  There was a lot of sauce, though.  I guess I like a dryer roti with more chicken.