Friday, December 28, 2007

The city that never sleeps

Leaving this afternoon for New York City.

The plan involves staying at a mod little mid-town hotel, seeing The Color Purple (intentional US spelling mistake), The Nutcracker (at Lincoln Centre) and shopping till we drop. There's also a great Seurat exhibit on at the MOMA.

My BFF and I have done New York together numerous times. We like to get up early and go, go, go until we fall into bed exhausted with splitting headaches. That's when we know we've done it well.

Home again on New Year's Eve....the ultimate pagan holiday.

Here's to clear skies ahead.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Crazy for You

I had coffee with my friend KM today.

It came out that KM and another friend, JT, were discussing me and my ex and a discussion ensued: who was crazier?

The decision was split.

I actually find this kind of amusing. Which probably is the first clue that the other friend was right. I am actually quite crazy.

It's actually pretty crazy that KM and JT were having this conversation to begin with. On Christmas Day, no less.

The truth is that everyone is crazy once you get to know them.

Some kinds of crazy just make it easier to live in the world.

My particular brand of crazy just happens to come with a higher than average baseline level of happiness, while my ex's decidedly does not.

Anyway, here's to craziness in all its forms.

Go crazy.

Location, Location, Location

I've developed more than a passing addiction to British design shows.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mistle Tow

Flat tire. December 22nd. The middle of freaking nowhere.

I've got a great story involving a winch, a flat bed truck, and a tow to Gravenhurst, but sadly I'm too emotionally exhausted from four days in North Bay to tell it.

Number of Turtles eaten this holiday season: 0 (Personal best)
Number of trips to Tim Hortons: Too many to count
Number of viewings of Sound of Music: 1
Number of times listening to RyanDan's new album: 3 1/2
Number of times listening to Josh Groban's new album: 11
Number of flat tires: 1

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dear Santa

I've probably never wanted anything as much as I wanted that Easy Bake Oven.

For a chubby little girl in Northern Ontario, baking individual cakes by the heat of a lightbulb, was nothing short of miraculous.

I wanted one and I wanted it bad.

I remember waking up on Christmas morning in Temagami.

I crept downstairs, and there it was. Unwrapped. Pride of place in front of the tree. An Easy Bake Oven. My Easy Bake Oven.

I remember that first cold shiver of recognition, and the squeal that bubbled up and out.

It's been more than forty years since that day, and I can still remember it with absolute clarity.

With wishes that all your dreams come true. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Friday, December 21, 2007

When you're sitting, just sit

I was sitting beside my fireplace this morning listening again to the final Amen from Handel's Messiah - I told you, I like it A LOT - and I suddenly looked again at the beautiful stained glass above my picture window.

It was like I was seeing it again, for the first time.

It's so artfully crafted. The colours are so vibrant and beautiful. It's from a different time - when craftsmanship was appreciated.

That stained glass was one of the things that attracted me to the place when I first viewed it. That, and this home's serene energy.

Then it struck me: how we always seem to notice things when they begin and when they end. It's in that middle place where we forget the magic.

I haven't given that stained glass nearly the attention it deserves. Despite the fact that I've spent a lot of time working on my mindfulness this year, I've got a long way to go.

Here's to enjoying the middle bits.

As the zen masters say: don't just do something, sit there.

On this, my last day of work until 2008, I bid you all peace, health and happiness in 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Channel for the Divine

Toward the end of The Messiah, just when you think you can't get any closer to God or you'll be catapulted out of your seat and through the roof, comes the final "Amen".

That's when the timpani player, who has sat patiently through much of the two and half hours of the oratorio, grabs his timpani mallet and really goes to town. It is a moment of sheer beauty and absolute divinity.

Talk about a great day at the office. Imagine leaving work, confident that you've channelled the divine.

I can't get enough of The Messiah.

In my next life, I want to learn to play the harpsichord.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thank you, gentle readers

It feels good to know that both Jesus and the Universe read my blog. You'd think they'd have so much else to do, what with global warming, the sub-prime lending crisis, and all the talk over Jamie-Lynn Spear's pregnancy.

And speaking of my home boy, it's off to see Handel's Messiah at Roy Thomson Hall this evening. You'd have to have a heart of stone not to respond to the Messiah.

While I like the Hallelujah chorus, it's not my favourite part of the Messiah. Not by a long shot. If I had one song left to hear on this earth, it might just be, For Unto Us a Child is Born.

If you have the time, and the inclination, I invite you to listen to it here. It doesn't matter what you believe in.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In my best interest

Ah, mortgage rates. Those saucy minxes have me vexed. But I'm almost, almost convinced to go with a variable rate mortgage.

The mortgage guy send me a side-by-side comparison of the amount of interest I'd be paying at a five year, monthly, fixed rate of 5.84%, compared with a five year, monthly variable rate of 5.1% (prime minus .90). It's about a $10,000 difference.

And this isn't even taking into account the fact that I want to do accelerated bi-weekly payments.

What would Jesus do?

Monday, December 17, 2007


I love it when we're reminded that the million and one things we had planned for a particular day are all for naught, and we might as well just give up and enjoy ourselves.

I talked to my neighbours more yesterday than I have since I moved in.

There's something about the shared experience of shoveling that puts us all on a level playing field.

One of my favourite things about yesterday was watching how CityTV turned it into "Storm Watch," complete with ominous music and Ann Rohmer moderating.

By mid-afternoon, Ann was taking calls from viewers eager to talk about their helpful neighbours, or how they managed to get their cars dug out of snow banks.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Serendipity and the sacred heart of Jesus

Two things.

Crows figure prominently in The Girls.

Throughout the novel -- some of which takes place in and around Chatham, Ontario -- flocks of crow make appearances. I thought it was a literary convention.

Turns out that Chatham is crow capital of Canada. According to this morning's Globe, these crafty black birds appear to be getting ready to take over the world and using Chatham as their home base. They're so smart that they can even figure out when the garbage route is going to change, before it does.

As someone who has had a lifelong fear of birds (flashback to getting stoned in North Bay, Ontario and watching Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds) you can pretty much guarantee that I'll never go to Chatham on holiday.

My favourite costume at last night's "Naughty or Nice" Christmas Party: a guy dressed as Jesus, wearing a 15 cent birthday hat and a ribbon that read "Birthday Boy".

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The year of magical reading

This has been such a good reading year for me.

Add to my list of great books of 2007: Lori Lansens', The Girls.

This novel is the surprisingly beautiful and poetic story of Rose and Ruby Darlen, the oldest living craniopagus (joined at the head) twins. It is, quite literally, about the things real and otherwise that join us.

I finished the novel last night and feel like I've said goodbye to an old friend. It is highly readable. Brilliant, even. I'd heartily recommend it.

Before I even finished it, I decided to get a new copy for my BFF's Maman. I often pass along excellent reads to her at Christmas time.

So, imagine my joy when I discovered a hardcover copy of the novel on the bargain table at Indigo. Price tag: $9.99. It's worth every penny of its $34.95 list price. Believe me. It's unforgettable.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Would you like a little fraud with your tapioca balls?

I've long believed that Bubble Tea shops are a front for some illicit activity or other.

Really, who likes drinking fluorescent liquid containing bullet-like tapioca balls?

So, imagine my delight when one of my co-workers signed up for a series of pre-paid massages at the Spring Spa, above Tea Shop 168 on Yonge Street.

Young NW showed up for his massage and was met by a young Asian woman who spoke barely any English.

He was ushered into a cold and sterile room. After less than an hour of half-hearted kneading, she suddenly announced "Finish", and fled the room.

When he left, they gave him a receipt signed by a man named Peter, with Peter's RMT number.

Moral: don't drink that stuff.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bah at the Elmwood

Last night I had a massage at the Elmwood Spa.

I should have known, savvy marketer that I am, that the first clue was the 20% off postcard I received in the mail. Add to that, the free gift basket full of useless and exceedingly smelly bath products. (Note: I'm planning to re-gift them in the office gift exchange.)

Meet Tatyana, lost czarina of the weak handshake.

I knew I was in trouble when I had to tell her to turn down the interrogation lights and stop playing the nature noises at ear-splitting volumes.

Then we went to work on my back. Lame. It was like she was icing a big, pale cake with a dull knife. A few "ows" and "too hards" later, she made her way to my legs. I had to stop her three times while she tried to massage my kneecap. MY KNEECAP!

"Please stop," I said, a little too politely.

"Too sensitive," she asked.

"Well actually, I'm not used to anyway massaging my kneecap," I said, snidely.

"Well, now you know," said Tatyana.

Then she went for my elbow. Must be Russian thing.

This was one of the few times that I -- schooled in the ways of Canadian niceness -- didn't tip for a service.

But I'll give you a tip: stay away from the Elmwood.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mary Christmas

I'm probably one of the least bah humbug types on the planet, so it might surprise you to know that I'm rather ambivalent about Christmas.

Actually, I quite whole-heartedly support the idea of Christmas. But, in practice, it never really turns out the way you think it will. Few occasions of forced gaiety actually do.

Take New Years for example. If ever there was a holiday that made you want to stick an ice-pick in your eye, there it is. Followed second only to Valentine's Day.

Christmas probably wouldn't be half bad if we weren't assaulted by unreal images of ridiculously happy and functional families on every one of our 358 cable channels. Not to mention the month-long drone of tinny Christmas carols on every radio station in the city.

These are the things that make us feel like we what we're feeling isn't quite good enough, and everyone around us has a notch or two of happiness greater than ours. Categorically untrue.

Personally, I like to keep out of the stores as much as possible and spend some quiet time with traditions I really enjoy, like listening to Handel's Messiah. Frankly, if you can listen to Handel's Messiah without having a religious experience, chances are you're Satan's spawn.

Then there's the requisite viewing of Charlie Brown's Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life. The latter, in particular, is probably one of the darkest Christmas stories imaginable, but it's brilliant and redemptive. I always feel better for watching it.

Staying balanced and centred during the holidays is always one of my goals -- along with not stuffing a chocolate Turtle into my gullet during the first 15 seconds of Christmas morning. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Petit Dejeuner

I have a hunch that most people eat the same thing for breakfast every day. Do you?

And, by the way, thanks to the Universe for responding to my last posting. I'm still giggling about it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Find a penny, pick it up

Every time I find money on the street, I hear my Mother's voice in my head. "Find a penny, pick it up, and all today you'll have good luck." Except for the whole lard-on-a-burn phenomenon, my Mom was really on to something.

I found a loonie on the street this morning.

This was immediately after depositing my long-delayed (by me) income tax return in the bank at the crazy corner of Church and Wellesley.

This is not the first time that money has (literally) fallen from the sky when I needed it.

Yesterday, while surfing numerous web sites in the attempt to demystify mortgage rates, I said (and probably out loud, too, since I do work in the Creative department and these sorts of things are tolerated), "Universe, I'd really welcome some financial reassurance."

Then I stopped worrying about it.

And there they were. My income tax return last night and the loonie this morning. Both equally delightful.

Just goes to show you: faith is a powerful force.

Thanks, universe.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

You've got to love Nietzsche

One of my favourite billboards of all time is:

God is Dead
So is Nietzsche

That's why I was delighted to see old Nietzsche represented in my Zen Day by Day calendar today with:

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

This quote almost, but not quite, drowned out the music of mortgage rates.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Victoria has a secret

Thanks to my BFF for giving me the heads up on the worthy diversion: the Victoria's Secret Runway Show. If I looked that good in my underpants, I'd be dead of hypothermia.

Part of me was half hoping that Victoria's actual secret might have been the key to unlocking the confusion surrounding mortgages.

Does anyone understand all the mumbo jumbo around fixed rate and variable, and basis points, and monthly, bi-monthly and all that jazz? My brain quite literally goes into la la land when I try to figure it out.

Clearly I was born, and will die, an artsy.

Anyway, if you or yours have a favourite mortgage broker, don't be shy. Do share.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I am a home owner!

In what can only be described as an exceptionally full weekend, I both bought a condo in Toronto AND got snowed in, in North Bay, Ontario.

Almost everything you need to know about my new place is contained in the following blog entry:

I'm not kidding.

Everything on my wish list and more.

Thank you, universe.