Friday 31 August 2018

Thursday 30 August 2018

Book ~ "Murder at McDonald's: The Killers Next Door" (2014) Phonse Jessome

From Goodreads ~ The true story of the Sydney River McDonald’s massacre, a botched robbery that would become the most sensational murder case in Canadian history.

It started with a broken conveyor belt. When the mechanical malfunction brought eighteen-year-old McDonald’s employee Derek Wood into the restaurant’s back room, he saw the safe and got a dangerous idea. It would be so easy to prop the back door open, allowing two friends to sneak inside and steal the money. Wood assumed there was at least $200,000 in the cashbox - an incredible haul for just a few minutes’ work - but things would not go according to plan.

The robbery went wrong from the start and within minutes, a fast-food restaurant in Nova Scotia was turned into a bloodbath. Wood and his accomplices attacked the employees, killing three instantly and leaving the fourth for dead. In the safe, where they had expected to find a fortune, there was barely $2,000. They fled the scene, instigating a manhunt that would captivate the nation.

In May 1992, 18-year-old Derek Wood had just started working at McDonald's in Sydney River, Nova Scotia, when he got the idea to rob the restaurant.  He talked to two unemployed friends, Freeman MacNeil (age 23) and Darren Muise (age 18), about it and they decided to do it.  They figured they'd score about $200,000.  Wood left his knapsack in a basement door to keep it open so they could sneak in late one night after one of Wood's shifts.  In the aftermath, Wood's co-workers, Jimmy Fagan (age 27),  Donna Warren (age 22) and Neil Burroughs Jr. (age 29), were brutally murdered and Arlene MacNeil (age 20) was left for dead (she ended up disabled and passed away this month).  All they got was about $2,000!

This book details the incident, the victims and killers and their families, the economy and mentality of Cape Breton at the time, the police investigation, the activities of Wood, MacNeil and Muise after the murders, their arrests and their trials.  It is written by Phonse Jessome, the ATV/CTV reporter who was covering it at the time.  Despite the subject matter, I liked the writing style and this book.  It's a sad sad story that didn't have to happen.  The editing could have been tighter as there were typos.  As a head's up, there is swearing and obviously violence.

Wood and MacNeil were given life sentences with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.  Muise was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 20 years.  He was released in 2012 with full parole and is apparently living in British Columbia.

From 1977 until 1983 (ages 15 to 21), I lived in Sydney River, a couple blocks from this McDonald's.  By the time this incident happened in 1992, I was living here in Toronto.  I had followed it on the news at that time and hadn't thought about it until I heard that Arlene had passed away.

The McDonald's was torn down in 2000 and another one is a couple blocks away.  It sounds like it's just an empty lot now.

The McDonald's where the murders happened

Soundwave Yoga, Laya Spa & Yoga, Toronto, ON

Gord and I attended a 60-minute Soundwave Yoga practice this evening.

Experience the sounds and vibrations of tuning forks on and off the body during this gentle yin style practice. In this class, asanas are held for longer periods of time while tuning forks are placed on specific points of the body.  The vibrations of the tuning forks will help deepen our practice, releasing pain, muscular tension, stress and stale emotions.  With the help of sound waves, we encourage any out-of-tune elements in our body to come back into resonance with the natural harmony of our being.  We relax and let go to increase the flow of energy in the body, creating space and realigning ourselves with our natural vibrations.

It was led by Danielle at Laya Spa & Yoga (Queen Street W/Ossington Avenue), which is in our 'hood.  We had met Danielle yesterday in Chakras & Chai.

Danielle's tuning forks

Danielle started us off with a guided meditation.  Then we did restorative yoga, which I like ... you hold a pose for a long period of time which gives a great stretch.  While we were in a pose, she came around to each of us putting her vibrating tuning forks on various parts of our body.  I'd never done this type of yoga before.  At times, I thought I felt a small electrical charge when she had the tuning forks on me.  We finished with a guided meditation.

It was an enjoyable class and I felt very relaxed afterwards.  I'll definitely be checking it out again.

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Chakras & Chai, Laya Spa & Yoga, Toronto, ON

I worked from home today and Gord and I attended the lunchtime Chakras & Chai, a 30-minute guided meditation, led by Alisa (she does it there every second Wednesday).  Today's focus was on the throat chakra.

It was at Laya Spa & Yoga (Queen Street W/Ossington Avenue), which is in our 'hood.  Meditation and yoga are held in the building next door on the third floor.  We had attended Chakras & Chai led by Alisa two weeks ago and she'd focused on the heart.

After the meditation, Alisa served us some iced chai and snacks on the rooftop terrace and we chatted for a while.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

"Romeo and Juliet", Shakespeare in High Park, Toronto, ON

Gord and I saw Romeo and Juliet this evening at Shakespeare in High Park ... it's a Canadian Stage production.  Gord and I have been meaning to go but every summer seems to get away from us and it's over (this is the last week for it).

In university, I had to take a full-term Shakespeare course and I didn't really enjoy it.  This is the first time either of us have seen a Shakespeare play.

The cost is pay what you want
You can buy refreshments

Book ~ "Disposable Souls" (2016) Phonse Jessome

From Goodreads ~ The body of Pastor Sandy Gardner, a TV preacher with a global following, turns up near a Halifax container pier. The mysterious case lands with Cam Neville, a city cop with a dead wife, PTSD and a haunting past. Can Neville, a former biker and war hero, solve the killing and find himself?

In search of the truth, Neville and his partner, a Mi’kmaw Mountie named Blair Christmas, enter a perilous world of strippers, kiddie porn and corruption that threatens to destroy them. Meanwhile, Neville is torn between loyalties to his two brothers, one still with the Satan’s Stallion bike club founded by their father, and another, a priest who wants to save everyone, including Cam.

Cam is a police officer working in Halifax, NS.  His father was the founder of the Stallions, a motorcycle club, which Cam used to be in and his brother, Gunner, is currently a VP.  Cam had gotten married (then widowed), went to war in Afghanistan and as a prisoner was tortured.  He had a hard time handling everything once he got home.  His brother, Greg, a priest, straightened him out and he joined the police force.  His former biker "brothers" hated him because he was now a cop and his new police "brothers" hate him because he is a former biker.  He is paired up with Blair, a Mi'kmaw Mountie, who everyone is prejudiced against.

A TV preacher is found murdered near where Cam and Blair are assigned.  As they dig deeper, they discover there may be ties back to the Stallions which puts Cam in a precarious position.  The Stallions, including Gunner, don't want to help him and the police don't trust him.

This is the first book I've read by Phonse Jessome and I liked it.  His name is familiar to me ... he is Nova Scotia journalist so that's probably why.  The story was interesting and was intense and heavy duty.  In addition to the story, there is a lot of information and I learned a lot about the relationship between the joint force of the police and Mounties in Halifax and motorcycle clubs.

The author doesn't hide the fact that the story takes place in Halifax and there are lots of references to locales (I've been so many of them).  I was born in Nova Scotia and lived my first ten years in the Halifax area.  In fact, my sister lives in Spryfield, where the "Litter Box Boys" reign and some of the action actually takes place about a five minute drive from her house.

I found the writing a bit dense at times, though ... there were a lot of long paragraphs that could have been broken up to make reading easier.  One page, for example, was made up of just three paragraphs.  As a head's up, there is swearing (lots of F-bombs) and violence.

I liked the characters.  The friendship between Cam and Blair was obvious as was Cam's torment between his two worlds.  Despite the differences between the three brothers (one is a cop, one is a bike and another is a priest) and their messed-up childhoods,  they did care about each other.

I look forward to reading other books by this other.  I understand there is supposed to be a sequel to this book coming out in the fall and I'll keep an eye out for it.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), Toronto, ON

The CNE is on now until after Labour Day.

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), also known as The Ex, is an annual event that takes place at Exhibition Place in Toronto, during the 18 days leading up to and including Labour Day Monday. With approximately 1.3 million visitors each year, the CNE is Canada’s largest annual fair and the seventh largest in North America. The first Canadian National Exhibition took place in 1879, largely to promote agriculture and technology in Canada. Agriculturists, engineers, and scientists exhibited their discoveries and inventions at the CNE to showcase the work and talent of the nation. As Canada has grown as a nation, the CNE has also changed over time, reflecting the growth in diversity and innovation, though agriculture and technology remain a large part of the CNE today.

The Cat Show was at the CNE this weekend.  I volunteer with the Annex Cat Rescue, who had a table there and I was on the afternoon shift.

I went down early to walk around and check things out.  There is something for everyone ... rides (I'm a big wimp and don't do rides), midway, games of chance, food, shopping (I bought a kitty teeshirt), music and more!  It wasn't all that crowded when I got there about 11:30am.

There are always hot tubs for sale!
There is an Indigenous display

Legends of the Silk Road Come to Light, Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), Toronto, ON

While I was at the CNE today, I checked out the Legends of the Silk Road Come to Light in the Enercare Building.  I didn't know what it was and hadn't heard about so it was a pleasant surprise.  It's definitely worth checking out!

The CNE will "come to light" this year with a spectacular indoor lantern festival!

A stunning series of 17 illuminated sculpture installations will create a kaleidoscope of colour, themed around legends and myths associated with the ancient Silk Road.

In celebration of the year of Canada-China tourism, the awe-inspiring displays were created by 90 artists using 4,000 metres of synthetic silk, 55 metres of steel, and arrived in eight shipping containers that travelled more than 12,000 km from China to Toronto!

The CNE's indoor lantern festival is co-produced by DDM Entertainment and Events Inc.

Saturday 25 August 2018

Book ~ "Live Long and ... What I Learned Along the Way" (2018) William Shatner and David Fisher

From Goodreads ~ "Star Trek" legend and veteran author William Shatner discusses the meaning of life, finding value in work and living well whatever your age.

"I have always felt," William Shatner says early in his newest memoir, that "like the great comedian George Burns, who lived to 100, I couldn't die as long as I was booked." And Shatner is always booked.

Still, a brief health scare in 2016 forced him to take stock. After mulling over the lessons he's learned, the places he's been and all the miracles and strange occurrences he's witnessed over the course of an enduring career in Hollywood and on the stage, he arrived at one simple rule for living a long and good life: don't die.

It's the only one-size-fits-all advice, Shatner argues in "Live Long and ... What I Learned Along the Way" because everyone has a unique life - but to help us all out he's more than willing to share stories from his unique life. With a combination of pithy humor and thoughtful vulnerability, Shatner lays out his journey from childhood to peak stardom and all the bumps in the road (sometimes the literal road, as in the case of his 2,400-mile motorcycle trip across the country with a bike that didn't function).

Everyone knows who William Shatner is ... he is an actor, author, producer and director originally from Montreal.  He was in Star Trek, T.J. Hooker, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Practice, Boston Legal among others.  He has been in plays, including the Stratford Festival early in his career.  He is also a musician, author, screenwriter and director, celebrity pitchman and owner, trader, breeder and rider of horses.

There are ten chapters in this book:
  1. A Fortunate Life
  2. The Show Must Go On
  3. A Passion for Passions
  4. An Emotional Appeal
  5. The Basic Ingredients:  Health and (Some) Wealth
  6. My Curious Quest for Adventure
  7. Working to Find Happiness
  8. Relationships are not All Relative
  9. My Principal Beliefs
  10. Where Does the Time Go?

This is the second book I've read by Shatner.  In this book, he shares stories about his life and what he's learned in his 87 years ... his childhood, marriages, children and grandchildren, career, interests, passion, etc.   I liked the writing style and this book and I could "hear" Shatner's voice as I was reading it.

Here are some of his tidbits of wisdom, which are good reminders ...
  1. His secret to a living a good long life?  Don't die!  Keep living and try not to slow down.
  2. Always say "yes" to opportunities.
  3. Find your passions.
  4. Be happy.
  5. Don't allow your fear of dying cause you to lose your passion for living ... be actively engaged in life until your very last breath.

Friday 24 August 2018

Death and Taxes, Toronto, ON

I worked from home today and Gord and I had lunch at Death and Taxes (on Queen Street W at Beaconsfield Avenue), which is in our 'hood.

It was so nice out and we sat on the patio

I ordered a Crispy Chicken Sandwich (minus lettuce) and fries.  It was okay.  The bun was warm and soft.  I've had it before and it seemed like the chicken patty was thinner than the last time.  The fries were good.

Gord ordered the D&T Breakfast.  He said it was just okay (his eggs were overcooked).

Thursday 23 August 2018

Book ~ "Ladies' Night" (2013) Mary Kay Andrews

From Goodreads ~ Grace Stanton's life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool. Grace suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account, and even the blog she has worked so hard to develop in her signature style. 

Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal. So is attending court-mandated weekly "divorce recovery" therapy sessions with three other women and one man for whom betrayal seems to be the only commonality. 

When their "divorce coach" starts to act suspiciously, they decide to start having their own Wednesday "Ladies' Night" sessions at The Sandbox and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined. Can Grace figure out a new way home and discover how strong she needs to be to get there?

Grace is a former interior decorator who is now a lifestyle blogger.  One night she discovers Ben, her husband, in the garage doing things he shouldn't be with her assistant, J'Aimee.  She runs J'Aimee off and then drives Ben's prized car into the pool.  The police are called and Grace leaves and moves in with Rochelle, her mother, who lives above the bar she owns.

Grace then discovers that Ben and J'Aimee have taken over her blog.  Plus, she is locked out of her house and bank accounts so is left with nothing.  When they go to divorce court, the woman-hating judge takes Ben's side and orders Grace to go to divorce counselling classes to learn how to control her rage.  There she meets Camryn, Suzanne, Ashley and Wyatt.  They meet and bond after each class at her mother's bar ... hence the name of the book.  Wyatt's wife, Callee, recently left him for a neighbour.  Wyatt and Callee have a young son together, who Callee doesn't hesitate to use to rile up Wyatt and his father.  Grace and Wyatt end up dating.

I've read quite a few books by this author and thought this one was just okay.  It is written in third person perspective in Grace and Wyatt's voice.  The editing could have been tighter as there were typos and grammatical errors.  Plus there was some weird math.  Wyatt says he's 38 with a six-year-old son.  He tells Grace that he had his son when he was 36.  Wouldn't that make him 42 not 38?!  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

I thought it was odd that Grace moved out of the house the night of the blow-up ... the police didn't force her to.  They lived in a mansion with lots of bedrooms and Ben had locked himself up in the den.  Why couldn't she lock herself up in another room?  If it was me, I never would have left because it was MY house and because of what happened to her (Ben locked her out and the security guard wouldn't let her into the complex).

It was hard to believe she was 38 as she had the sense of someone much younger.  As successful as she was, she left everything up to Ben and didn't even have her own bank account.  He was able to shut down access to their bank account and credit cards no problem.  I found this unbelievable.  I'm assuming she could have showed up at the bank and made them give her access.

They landed in divorce court very quickly.  Could a judge really be that judgmental and have that much power that he could make Grace go to counselling but leave Ben free (with everything) to do as he pleased.  I might be inclined to check the laws before I'd be writing this into a story because it sounds ridiculous.

Wyatt and Grace met and fell in in love so fast after both had devastating experiences with the long term spouses.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Toronto Blue Jays 8, Baltimore Orioles 2, Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON

I graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS.  The Toronto alumni chapter organized an event for tonight ... a meet 'n greet at The Pint (including a drink and appies) followed by the Toronto Blue Jays game.  Tickets were $20 and apparently 80 were sold!

Sean and Brien greeted us at The Pint.

The Blue Jays were playing the Baltimore Orioles.

Monday 20 August 2018

Ipsy Glam Bag - August 2018

My August Ipsy Glam Bag arrived today.
  • 4 to 5 beauty products in a collectible makeup bag 
  • Monthly videos showing you how to get the Look 
  • Win free products in contests and giveaways

Subscriptions are $10US a month or $110US for a year.  Shipping is free in the U.S. and $4.95US per month to Canada.

Here's what I received ...

  • Make-up bag
  • HUDA BEAUTY Liquid Matte (Flirt) - $20 value - different colour than I usual wear but I like it ... great staying power
  • Murade AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser - 1oz - $5.78 value
  • OUAI Volume Spray - 25ml - $4.64 value
  • Thrive Cosmetics Liquid Lash Extensions (Black) - $12 value
  • Bang Beauty Eyeshadow Quad (Smokey) - $18 value - I like it!

  • Value:  $60.42

    Sunday 19 August 2018

    Book ~ "The Fixer Upper" (2009) Mary Kay Andrews

    From Goodreads ~ After a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed and homeless. She reluctantly accepts to refurbish Birdsong, the old family place in Guthrie, Georgia.

    But, oh, is Dempsey in for a surprise. "Bird Droppings" would more aptly describe the moldering Pepto Bismol pink dump. There's also a murderously grumpy old lady who has claimed squatter's rights and isn't moving out. Ever.

    Furthermore, everyone in Guthrie seems to know Dempsey's business, from a smooth-talking real-estate agent to a cute former lawyer who owns the local newspaper. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the pesky FBI agents who show up on Dempsey's doorstep, hoping to pry information about her ex-boss from her.

    All Dempsey can do is roll up her sleeves and get to work. And before long, what started as a job of necessity somehow becomes a labor of love and, ultimately, a journey that takes her to a place she never expected back home again.

    Dempsey is a lobbyist working in Washington for Alex.  She gets caught up in a scandal caused by Alex and he pushes the blame her way.  With no job or money, she heads to Birdsong, a big ole house that her father has just inherited from Uncle Norbert about an hour outside of Atlanta.  Her father says if she fixes the house up so they can sell it, he'll split the profits with her.  With no other options, she packs up her meager belongings and takes on this challenge.

    When Dempsey gets to Birdsong, she discovers the house is in worse shape than her father thought.  Everything has to be renovated and her father has given her an $80,000 budget to get it all done.  So she has to digs in and start learning how to do the manual labour.  Plus she discovers that Ella Kate, Uncle Norbert's elderly and crusty caregiver, is living in the house with her dog and has no intention of leaving.

    FBI agents are investigating the scandal and have all the proof they need to put Dempsey in prison for about 15 years.  But if she cooperates with them, they may be able to give her a break.  She eventually hires Carter, Uncle Norbert's lawyer, and starts dating his son, Tee.

    I've read quite a few books by this author ... I didn't really like this one and didn't enjoy the story.  It is written in first person perspective in Dempsey's voice.  I hated the way the blue-collar locals spoke ... they sound so illiterate, for example saying "I brung this" or "I done that".  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.  There are recipes at the end of the book.

    I found it unbelievable that one minute she is living a life in Washington with pedicures/manicures and suits and the next her father is sending her off to renovate his house.  He had confidence in her abilities because she coloured a couple chairs in her Barbie house about 20 years ago!  The next thing we know, she's sanding cupboard doors, stripping floors, etc. like a pro!

    I didn't find most of the characters likable.  Dempsey is in her late twenties and graduated from law school but she had the maturity of someone much younger.  When news of the scandal hit and she was threatened with prison time and everyone was advising her to talk to a lawyer, she resisted ... because she didn't want to hurt Alex's feelings?!  Really?!

    I hated Ella Kate and didn't find her amusing at all.  She was unappreciative and rude beyond belief.  I would have kicked her out of the house the second there was conflict.  Plus Ella Kate was stereotypically racist ... she wanted an "American" doctor rather than the East Indian one and she called a nurse "coloured".  Even Shorty, Ella Kate's dog, was cranky.

    Dempsey's parents were awful.  Her father and stepmother were condescending and A-holes and never nice to her.  Her mother was a flake.  It was weird that Dempsey usually called them by their first names rather than "Mom" and "Dad".

    Carter and Tee become Dempsey's friends and Tee is in love with her after about hour of meeting her.  Seriously?!  It seems like the story took place over a couple weeks and even though she pushes him away, Dempsey and Tee end up in love in the end (sorry to ruin the surprise of the happy ending).

    I thought it was odd, though the story was written in and I'm assuming set in 2009, the only album Dempsey has on her ipod was Michael Jackson's Thriller, which came out in 1982, around the time she was born.  Why Thriller?!  I like listening to older albums but I mix it up.