Blog-o! Notes from

Sun, 29 Dec 2013

On Saturday, December 21 the girls and Blake and I went to a Christmas carolling party at a friend’s house. We sang lots of old-fashioned Christmas carols (the ones they don’t sing at school because there’s too much Christmas in them) and drank wine and talked about the coming storm. “Charge your phones,” I said, “make sure you have milk and bread!”

“Is it going to be all that bad?” My friends moved here from England just over a year ago — they weren’t here for the ice storm in Ottawa and Quebec back in 1998.

“It could be nothing, or it could be a few days without power,” I said.

By the time we left it was raining, cold hard rain which was starting to freeze on the ground. Blake walked us home and went out again to meet some friends at a pub. I plugged my phone in, made sure my computer was charged, tucked the girls in and headed to bed with The Sea-Captain’s Wife.

Sunday, December 22

When we woke up the power was out but the house was still warm. I lit some candles and boiled a saucepan of water for tea. I shuffled to the gym and back, and the power came back on around 10:30. Easy!

The city was covered in ice, part of the subway was shut down and people were being advised not to go out if they didn’t need to, but Delphine and I had tickets for the Sing-Along Messiah. When we heard at around 11:00 that Massey Hall was open and the Sing-Along Messiah was on, we still weren't sure whether to go or not.

My friends who were going to come with us decided not to go --- they told a very long story about a branch in their driveway and ice on their car and the subway might not be running and it would be hard and they’d rather just not bother. That was disappointing and we thought about staying home too, but we decided that an adventure of any kind would be preferable to staying cooped up at home being sullen.

Waiting for the bus, a lady shuffled towards us with unkemped hair and flushed skin, sprinkling rock salt from a gallon jug on the sidewalk ahead of her. “The subway isn’t running from Eglinton to Bloor,” she said. “No trains! They’re running shuttle buses!” Again we thought about giving up, but decided to forge ahead.

At Yonge Street three shuttle buses drove past, each too crammed to pick anyone up. A small CBC TV crew was shooting some B-roll of people giving up; Delphine wanted to be interviewed for TV but they found someone less hopeful.

Finally I decided to work around the Yonge Street problem altogether by catching the number 14 bus over to the University-Spadina line. The number 14 was diverting from its usual route because of branches on the roads, too, but it was only a twenty minute ride to Glencairn

The subway train we caught at Glencairn was the Hobbit train, which pretty much made the whole trip worthwhile. We got to Dundas station ten minutes before show time and didn’t miss a single note. Dame Emma Kirkby sang. (I wonder how she enjoyed it.) There might have been a bit of a trainwreck in the Amen fugue, but we pulled it together with lots of help from Ivars. Delphine had a good time and she’s starting to learn the choruses and sing along. All in all, going was absolutely the right choice.

After the sing-along we wandered the mall with Janet, who had joined us for Messiah, and then met Blake and Cordelia for dinner. We ate at Mr Greenjeans, our favourite mall restaurant. After a lot of food we went home and noticed that it was very dark on our block; the power had just gone off again.

Monday, December 23

The lights were still out Monday morning. I was supposed to go grocery shopping for Christmas dinner ingredients, but the grocery store was closed. I’m actually not sure what we did all day; cooking and washing dishes, tending to candles. I wrapped Blake’s Christmas gifts in the basement by the light of a single candle. I spent a lot of time checking the @TorontoHydro Twitter account. The girls and Blake decorated their gingerbread houses, which they had cleverly baked the day before the power went out.

At 8:45 pm on Monday, after the power had been out for over 24 hours, it was 16.3° Celsius in the house. People kept inviting us over to their house to warm up, and I didn’t realize why until later when I heard that other houses cooled down to 10 degrees and lower within a day. I don’t think there’s any one thing which made our house stay so warm; it’s a combination of factors:

  • really small house (about 1200 square foot)
  • a layer of rigid foam insulation on the inside of every outside wall (making the house even smaller)
  • semi-detached, so one wall of the house is insulated by an entire other house
  • protected on the north side by another house which is about three feet away
  • newish, small windows
  • honeycomb blinds

And finally, we have a gas water heater and a gas stove, so we were able to warm the place up with hot showers and cooking. I'm feeling pretty good about our little house these days.

Tuesday, December 24

On Christmas Eve morning it was 13.4°C when we woke up; it went up to 15.3°C by the end of breakfast. We went out for lunch and to see The Hobbit; when we got home the temperature had gone down to 11.4°C. We lit some candles and made pasta for dinner, and managed to drag the temperature up to 13°C before bed. Blake and I had to stay up later than the girls because of Christmas, but I lit lots of candles and we managed.

Christmas Day

When we woke up on Christmas Day it was 9.3ºC, which is perhaps too cold for comfort. But Christmas, like the show, must go on, so we made tea and breakfast and lit a bunch of candles and opened presents. Lots of books, lots of chocolate and lots of Lego, so satisfactory all ‘round. Oh, and the girls got rubber swords, which they immediately fought over. Of course.

After opening presents we went over to Baba’s house to warm up, do the cryptic, read (me), knit (Delphine), and watch TV (Cordelia). I kept checking Twitter for news about the power, and at around 3:30 I got a text message from a neighbour to say we were back on. Hooray — we could sleep at home!

The biggest conundrum of the no-power Christmas was where, and if, Christmas dinner would happen. Normally I host, and I was thinking about cancelling dinner, but my sister-in-law is the best ever and offered to have it at her place rather than cancel or postpone. So I brought Christmas pudding and cookies, and made Yorkshire puddings to go with the roast beef, and it was delicious and perfect. And the evening ended very satisfactorily, in our own cozy little house.

[Posted at 23:17 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 12 Jun 2012

I was recently offered the opportunity to work on a very cool project. At the moment I'm finishing up AOSA and working on another book, plus I am taking a six week online course, but this new project didn't start until late summer, so I agreed.

Or so I thought. There was some confusion on my part, and as it turns out, the new project starts right away. There's no way I want to pass up this opportunity, though, so I'm going to have to squeeze some more hours out of my day. Somehow.

My first intention is to spend the first part of the work day on billable work. It sounds dumb, but I have so many other things to do — answering email, administration, networking, blog posts, AOSA, volunteer work for the girls' school, the course, and household jobs like signing the girls up for things — that some days I don't do any billable work at all. As a result my projects drag on and I feel like a dud.

My second intention is to wake up at 6:00 every day. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I will go straight to the gym so I can work out before breakfast; Tuesdays and Thursdays I will do housework and household admin tasks, so they don't eat into my working day. That means I have to head to bed at 10:15 to be asleep by 10:45. (Seven hours and fifteen minutes seems to be enough sleep.) I hope I will settle in to that sleep cycle so that I wake up early on the weekends, too; that time I will use to read!

My third intention is to finish the AOSA project in one fell swoop. I'm waiting on a volunteer to create the epub (thank you!) and once that's done I will set aside a day or two to finish all the little admin and website jobs which I could otherwise safely (but guiltily) ignore forever.

And finally I have a bad habit of half-watching TV, half-working in the evenings. I hope I will be more effective with this new schedule and won't need to work in the evenings. If there's something on I actually want to watch, I intend to set aside other things and watch it (!); if I'm just keeping Blake company while he watches something I'm not so interested in, I will work on personal or family stuff.

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to fit all the things I want to do into my day (and cursing my excessive need for sleep.) I'm optimistic about this plan; it seems both doable and effective.

(Check it out: no sooner did I post this than I came across this book about what successful people do before breakfast.)

[Posted at 12:11 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 21 May 2012

The Victoria Day long weekend took me by surprise this year — I didn't realize it was a long weekend until last Thursday. However, I had planned to do the thing that every other Canadian with a yard does this weekend: garden.

Saturday morning Delphine and I had decided to go yard saleing. Our original plan was to take our bikes, but then I realized that Blake goes spinning on Saturday morning, so we would have to take Cordelia with us. She still hasn't learned how to ride a bike (and seems to be in no hurry to) so that meant we had to walk.

Noramlly that would have been fine because there are usually plenty of yard sales within walking distance, but of course it's the long weekend. We only found one sale, and it didn't open until 9:00 (even though everyone knows that the universal standard yard sale starting time is 8:00). So we walked over to Bayview instead, where nothing was open except bakeries and cafes. However, on the way home someone had curbed a small collection of tiny wooden painted cats — exactly the kind of thing the girls were looking for. So they got what they wanted, and we got to keep all our money.

Delphine had her piano lesson at 10:00, and then we all went to the newly-opened Mount Pleasant outpost of Hazel's Diner. We have been diner-less since Diner 55 on Bayview closed, so we were ridiculously excited to go to Hazel's. There weren't many people there, what with it being the long weekend, but we saw two other Cody families — I think this location will do well. The food was good (not like it's hard to screw up a diner breakfast, unless you try and make it vegan or something) and I like the look of their lunch selection, too.

After Hazel's we headed home to do our homeowner penance: gardening. The girls and I had shopped for soil and plants after school on Friday (on Baba's advice, to beat the crowds and get the best selection). So while Delphine planted her planter in the front — some alliums (I think, or something similar), English daisies and sweet alyssum — Blake trimmed the hedge and I edged the "lawn". Cordelia did odd jobs like picking up twigs and fetching stuff. Then Blake mowed and Delphine weeded the strip where the creeping jenny is supposed to grow.

Then we all moved to the back where Cordelia and I planted our planters. I bought three fabric planters for our deck. I much prefer to plant planters than try and grow things in the garden, which I find anarchic and upsetting. Cordelia was assigned one fabric planter, Blake was assigned two, and I got the two wooden planters that match the deck.

Cordelia planted a geranium (red), two miniature roses (red and pink) and a gerbera daisy (yellow). I added a red geranium and a white callibrachoa to a planter which is playing host to a sage plant I put in three years ago which refuses to die and in fact grows bigger and stronger every year. In the other planter I have two geraniums (fuchsia and red), a yellow callibrachoa, a firewitch Dianthus ("Feuerhexe", because everything sounds cooler in German) and some other things which weren't labelled — I think they're also pinks. I don't believe in colour-coordinated planting.

Blake gets to plant the other two fabric planters — he wants to grow tomatoes and basil — but he hasn't bought the stuff yet.

That was the easy part. By that time the kids were sick of gardening (okay, so was I) so they went to Ursa's place to play in the sprinkler while I tackled the rest of the garden — the anarchic bit — and Blake made pizza dough.

When we moved in to this house the garden was a standard garden with recognizable beds and a bit of lawn. Since then the lawn and the beds have kind of melded together, with lots of weeds to add colour and texture. My gardening consists of weed whacking twice a year to keep the weeds and overgrown lawn below knee height.

This time I thought, since it was so early in the year, I would be able to mow it with the push mower. But we've had such a ridiculously early and warm spring that the lawn was a foot tall, and just folded over and laughed. I much prefer violets and creeping charlie to lawn: they only grow a few inches high no matter how long you leave them, and when you do mow them they send up lovely purple and green confetti.

So I fought with the grass, cussing and sweating, until I had tackled most of the yard. It looks at least 78% less hill-billy-ish now. By then Blake, my very bestest husband ever, had brought me a Frappuccino, so I got to sit on the deck and enjoy my non-embarrassing back yard.

After a delicious dinner of pizza, made by Blake and Delphine, the kids took a bath and were off to bed at a reasonable hour.

Sunday morning the girls have swimming lessons at a local high school. The lessons are an hour, so I get to sit up in the gallery and chill out, or this week, work on the AOSA website.

After swimming we hit Subway for lunch (having spent almost all our family fun money at Hazel's) and then went to Boardsports to get Delphine a helmet to go with her new skateboard. She wanted a pink helmet, but they only had extra-small in pink so she chose a gorgeous matte grass-green one instead. Then we walked home; Cordelia was exhausted halfway home — normally she has energy to spare, but she was sick last week and it's still slowing her down.

So in the afternoon we chilled out on the couch and watched a Mythbusters — the one with the explosions and shooting. And then Baba and Zaida's for barbequed steaks and playing in Auntie Morgan's wading pool.

On Monday we went for a hike. I like to take Delphine out in nature sometimes, because it recharges her (and me, too). Toronto is great for that because there are little bits of nature all over the place, so you can have, if not the best of both urban and country life, at least a taste of nature in the city.

We've done the walk down to the Brickworks, and we've walked from Yonge and Lawrence to Bayview at Sunnybrook Hospital. I wanted to do something new this time. I thought about Leslie Spit, but that takes too long to get to — I wanted this to be a morning hike so the girls could play with Ursa in the afternoon. I thought about Crother's Woods, but it's a bit of a pain to get to. There are two bus routes which access it, but neither of them are near our place. So finally we decided to walk from Sunnybrook Hospital to the Ontario Science Centre.

Sunnybrook is a short bus ride from our house, so we were there before ten. It was a nice hike, but too much walking on paved paths through parks for me. I like hikes through the woods. There were some trails through the woods which ran parallel to the park paths, though, so we got some quality nature hiking in. I think we went too fast; there are so many interesting things to look at in the woods if you slow down and pay attention. But as it was we saw a woodpecker, a nuthatch, baby geese, and a toad, and lots of cool fungus. Also far too much garlic mustard.

Our destination was the Ontario Science Centre, and I can't think of a better place to end a hike. We had lunch (fish and chips for the girls, chicken satay on a pita for me and jerk pork for Blake, then ice creams all 'round) and checked out the circus exhibit before catching the bus home.

Then we sent the girls off to Ursa's and now Blake's doing I-don't-know-what while I sit on the deck writing this. Tonight we are going to a local street party for hot dogs and fireworks. Not bad for a long weekend I didn't even know was coming.

[Posted at 17:33 by Amy Brown] link
Sat, 01 Jan 2011

We took a day off from awesomeness on Tuesday, but on Wednesday we were back at it with a visit to the Science Centre. (We're members there, so the day only cost us about $45 for food and transit.) We saw an exhibit about the Aga Khan Ismaili Museum, which is under construction just up the road from the Science Centre, we saw a demonstration about fire and explosions, we visited the rainforest (Delphine's favourite) and that hallway with all the soundproofing that's really quiet and makes you feel like your head is full of cotton wool — that's my favourite. We also went through a terrific exhibit about mythical creatures and the real-life phenomena which might have inspired them. Did you know there used to be a giant prehistoric ape in China? Delphine's favourite part of that exhibit was a poster about a boy who loves Pokémon. That seems like a weird thing to have in a show about mythical creatures, but I think their points were that some Pokémon monsters are inspired by mythical creatures, and that Pokémon are kind of their own mythology.

On Thursday we went down to the ROM, where we also have a membership. We saw the special exhibit on the Terracotta Warriors, which was nicely done. I'm sure I would have learned something if the show hadn't been crowded with everyone else in Ontario who decided to put off visiting it until the last week. Even so, it was impressive and well-organized.

We accidentally saw an exhibit of art by an African artist who uses found objects to make beautiful flowing sculptures. (Accidentally because we took the elevator up to the upstairs (fancy) restaurant to see what was up there, and then came down the stairs which deposited us into the exhibit.) The girls weren't really interested, except they thought it was neat that the sculptures were made of bottle caps and things. From there we stopped into the Textiles area, which I think is fascinating but the girls were bored by. Some of the little clothes held their interest for a while, especially the little yellow boy's dress. But there weren't any garments in their sizes: everything on display was either toddler size or adult size. I pointed out that Delphine was almost big enough to wear the adult dresses — people really were tiny back then.

We also spent our usual time in the Bat Cave, and in the hands-on kids' area. (My favourite thing is the super microscope hooked up to a TV — I like to use it to magnify my flaking, cracked cuticles and gross myself and the girls out.)

We had lunch at the ROM, in the basement cafe, and as usual it was cheap and delicious. We got a pizza, a burger, chili, poutine, and a smoked pork burrito, plus a brownie and a nanaimo bar, for $32. I would go there for lunch all the time if I worked nearby; they have more grown-up food than pizza and burgers, and it's all locally sourced and freshly made.

Thursday night we had our neighbours over for a drink — I had invited them to our Christmas Carol Jam but they were too sick, so this was their make-up drink. We chatted about New Year's Eve plans, and they said they were having some people for dinner and to play a karaoke game on their Nintendo. When I expressed my unholy love for karaoke they invited me over, so that's how I ended up going to my neighbours' at 12:10 am on January 1st (leaving Blake at home with the girls because he's so not into karaoke). They and their friends were friendly and welcoming, and I had a terrific time. I might have kicked some karaoke ass, too, even though the game is weird and picks the songs for you. I was out until 3:30, which is unheard of, and didn't fall asleep until 4:00. I might have been a teeny bit drunk, too. Not as drunk as my neighbours, though; it was like a university party!

Today, thankfully, was an easy day. In between catching up on sleep I did laundry and moved things around. Tomorrow we'll move things around some more, and go skating, and then out for Sunday Family Dinner, and then they holiday is over and everything goes back to normal. I'm not quite ready for this holiday to be over, but I'm excited about 2011 and the new things it will bring. Happy New Year!

[Posted at 23:07 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 27 Dec 2010

I love this Christmas holiday, you know why? I'll tell you: because Christmas was on Saturday. Two weeks off, Christmas on Saturday, means you get a week to get ready for Christmas and a week to recover.

Boxing Day was spent as follows: we went up to Yonge and Eglinton to shop — Blake tried and failed to buy me Life (with David Attenborough) on Blu-Ray, and I was more successful with my shopping, a picture frame and a tablecloth. Then we had dim sum at Cha Liu, and Delphine and I walked back home (stopping to see Charlie on the way). Delphine had Ursa over to show off her loot, and then we sent all the girls over to Ursa's house while Blake and I went on a grocery date and got some things set up around the house.

After groceries we rendezvoused at Ursa's house and pooled our leftovers for an awesome post-Christmas Christmas dinner: our beef and potatoes, pudding, cookies, and wine; their turkey, wild rice, (more) potatoes.

But this post isn't even about Boxing Day, which was yesterday — it's about today! The girls have big ambitions for this week: they want to go up the CN Tower, they want to go to the ROM and they want to go to the Science Centre. Since today was forecast to be the only clear day this week I decided we should go up the Tower today.

The Tower was great. Lots of lining up, sure, but then an excellent elevator ride and a fun view of the city. ("Oh, there's that thing! Oh, there's that other thing!") Then down to the glass floor (after rejecting the cafe as a lunch option — $17 hamburger!) which the girls loved and I walked on only under extreme duress. Horrifying.

(Later on the way home, Delphine said she was not so impressed about the Tower, but I think she had a good time when she was up there. It's a good thing to have done.)

The elevator down deposited us conveniently in the gift store. Cordelia's whole plan for this trip was to get a little CN Tower (I think her friend Zoey has one) so we got her one. Since Cordelia was getting something, Delphine had to as well, so she got a doodad and I bought myself a pair of souvenir earrings.

We had lunch at East Side Mario's, first regaling our children with boring stories about how we used to go to ESM when we were in university. It was still great: little loaves of soft white bread, big bowls of salad (same as before except no pickled peppers) and giant servings of pasta. (Cordelia: "Why did she give me so much?!") We all ate half our meals, and the girls got three tiny ice cream cones for dessert. The whole place is designed to bring families back: great kids menu, crayons and activity books, gorgeous bathroom (panelled wood cubicles!), delightful kids' dessert, a little toy, and take-home cups with characters on to make sure the kids never forget. And, since it was Monday the kids ate for free. ESM, for every stage of your life.

After lunch we walked down to the Harbourfront and met some friends to go skating. It was our first time this year, so it took me a lap or two to get steady. Cordelia never really stopped hanging on to someone and dragging, but Delphine was quite confident on her skates by the end.

When we were all quite frozen we went back up to Colleen and Jeff's (they live right opposite the rink, lucky buggers) for hot chocolate and ended up playing Wii games and staying for pizza.

Then home and to bed with the children, late again! We're going to spend tomorrow at home so as to not overwhelm ourselves with excitement. Also to clean up after Christmas Day — I still haven't recycled the giftwrap.

We had such a lovely day, and yesterday to. I love going out with the girls, they're so agreeable and interested and interesting. I love sharing the city with them, discovering and rediscovering what makes it such a wonderful place to live.

[Posted at 23:24 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 21 Nov 2010

Ten years ago (well, ten years and ten days) Blake and I got married. Since we're still married we decided to celebrate by taking a grown-up holiday, a weekend away. Last Friday night we left the girls with Baba and Zaida and checked into the Novotel downtown. Our room was on the third floor, room 314, and it was a little disappointing, to be honest. A paltry selection of free toiletries, a teeny bathtub, and the best view of a gravel roof and building mechanics I, for one, have ever seen.

And also engineers. Undergrad engineers. The Novotel happened to be hosting the Organization of Professional Engineers Student Conference (or something) that very weekend. And most of them seemed to be on the third floor. We settled into our room just as the engineers were massing to go to dinner. Noisily. I called the front desk to ask whether there was perhaps a room on a different floor, a floor with fewer engineers.

They moved us up to the top floor, and in so doing, upgraded us to a deluxe room which satisfied many more of my hotel room desires: flat screen TV, schmancy bathroom, superfluous toiletries. The bathtub was still lame; I've realized that if you want a hotel with an awesome bathtub you need to go to a hotel which advertises their awesome bathtubs. And the view... well, it turns out the Novotel in Toronto doesn't have any good views. After settling in again, we went out for dinner and beer at C'Est What.

The next morning we availed ourselves of the breakfast buffet, another of my hotel must-haves. This one was exquisite: fresh, flaky pastries, assorted cereal, French toast, bacon, sausages (such good sausages!), ham, cheese, at least five kinds of bread, yogurt, fruit, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chocolate milk, fruits. I was in breakfast heaven.

After eating about three breakfasts worth of breakfast, we waddled over to the St Lawrence Market to shop, window shop and sample things. I got some earrings, some strange grains, and gifts: genmaicha for Tanya and Douglas, and mince tarts for Andy.

Our next mission was to find a Shopper's Drug Mart, which you usually can't walk a block without stumbling over but were uncharacteristically thin on the ground over by the market there. So we carried on to the south end of Sherbourne and Toronto's newest waterfront delight, Sugar Beach. It was a gloomy day and we had the waterfront to ourselves as we walked back towards Yonge Street. We eventually wandered back to the hotel for an afternoon of lying around reading newspapers and books. Later we walked up to Dundas and over to Spadina for delicious Chinese food at E-Pan. (As it turns out the girls were having dinner just a block south of us.) We walked back to the St Lawrence Market area for uninspiring ice cream at Lettieri, then back to the hotel.

Sunday morning I woke up early and went down to the restaurant for a cappuccino while Blake slept in. Once he came downstairs we crossed the street to sit in the sun and wait for Scotland Yard to open for breakfast. An hour later we breakfasted in the company of some very vociferous football (soccer) fans. Then back to the hotel to check out, and we took the TTC home.

It was a lovely weekend but kind of ephemeral. I wish we had done something spectacular like go to a concert, but after paying for the hotel we didn't have the budget for any grand gestures. Still, it was lovely to spend time together without any pressing demands on our time.

[Posted at 15:29 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 10 Sep 2010

Most of the day was okay. Neither Blake nor I were in the best of moods, but we dealt and got on with things. We're having our big deck party tomorrow so I had a bunch of housework-y things to do, but I didn't feel like doing them and procrastinated most of the day.

Meanwhile Blake got this new superfast hard drive thing he was really excited about, and spent the rest of the afternoon failing to get it to work with his computer.

My plan was to take the girls to the library after school and then pick up fish and chips for dinner. However about three metres outside the school door they started pick pick picking at each other, and when Delphine shoved Cordelia I informed them that we were not going to the library and we would just eat whatever rubbish was in the fridge. Then I stormed home and they followed me all "wah wah, you're walking too fast". I was SO MAD.

On the way home I decided fuck this, I want to go to the library. So I dropped the girls off at the end of the block with strict instructions to go to their rooms and not bother Daddy, and then I charged off to the library. Stomp stomp stomp.

I spent most of the walk to the library trying to call and text Blake to make sure the girls got home okay and that he knew the situation. I finally got through and he told me he'd been talking to the girls. Or Talking To the girls. I'm sure Delphine gave him a pretty good recap so he had the information he needed to handle it.

It's a good thing I went to the library because there were seven (7) things on hold for me: two audiobooks, a CD, and four books including Your Seven-Year-Old: Life in a Minor Key (no shit!) I picked up fish and chips anyway because I didn't want to cook, and went home to find the girls had set the table and tidied up for me. They were being very nice to me and each other, and for an hour or so everything was good.

Then the girls bashed their heads together while spinning on the swings. Cordelia sustained the blow toward the back of her head, and Delphine on her temple. Despite the obvious physical impossibility, it seemed like Delphine got the worst of the collision – Cordelia cried for a while and then was fine, but Delphine was dizzy and sick, had a headache so bad it made her cry and blurred vision in her left eye. The headache and nausea carried on through dinner, until she puked and then everything seemed to feel better. (How does that work? It works for me with migraines too.)

Now she's asleep and I'm reading about concussions and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and second-guessing myself. Should we have gone to a clinic? Should we have called the doctor? (Hah. As if you can "call" the doctor.) I'll check on her tonight and keep an eye on her tomorrow, and try and get her to rest. (Maybe a lot of TV?)

Hopefully tomorrow will go better.

[Posted at 22:08 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 01 Sep 2010

As summer draws to an end the girls and I are trying to squeeze the last of the fun out of the season. One of the last things on the list we came up with at the beginning of the year was to go to the Harbourfront, and that is what we did today.

As usual we got off to a late start—between brushing hair and applying sunblock and looking for Playmobil horses and TTC tokens we didn't leave the house until around ten. When we got down to the Harbourfront the first order of business (after saying goodbye to the crowds of people headed for the Ex) was to find money. Unfortunately RBC has a lock on Queen's Quay Terminal, so we wandered westward searching for a TD bank machine. On the way we saw: a camp "canoeing" (more being pushed about) on Natrel pond; Delphine's canoe camp (she showed us the giant canoe they all went out to Centre Island in); the Amsterdam Bridge; the Spadina wave deck; and HtO Park. HtO Park is basically a giant sandbox with big metal umbrellas and Muskoka chairs—we couldn't decide if it was cool or lame, but Delphine liked the shower/footbath.

At that point it was apparent that we wouldn't find a TD bank machine anywhere, so we headed back to Queen's Quay Terminal (via the Simcoe wave deck) where I paid $1.50 for the privilege of taking money out of an RBC machine.

Next on the itinerary was to buy tickets for a boat ride. We went with Mariposa Boat Cruises because they were the first kiosk we came to, and Cordelia rode for free. It was 12:00 so I bought tickets for the 1:30 ride to give us time to get lunch. After pondering Il Fornello and an Irish pub, we decided to economize, and had chicken fingers, fish and chips, and a tuna sandwich at a grill-type place. Then back to Queen's Quay Terminal where we got an ice cream cone just in time to take it on the boat.

We rode on the Oriole (not quite as glamourous, in the harsh light of day, as they make it sound) and made ourselves at home on the lower deck, with only the bartender for company. I love the harbourfront boat tours—you get to go around the island lagoon, see the yachts, the bird sanctuary, the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, and of course the city from the other side. The girls loved it too, although Delphine had trouble keeping up with the tour guide's descriptions of buildings: "Between the two white buildings you'll see a tall gold building..." "Which one is it, Mama? I can't see it." By the time I described it again, of course, it was out of sight. Cordelia probably just couldn't make sense of it at all and was enjoying the ride on her own terms. It's good to be four.

A few things bothered me about the information given out in the tour. They talked about the TD Centre but they didn't mention it was designed by Mies van der Rohe; they talked about First Canadian Place but they didn't mention it by name (they called it the Bank of Montreal building) and they didn't say why it has scaffolding at the top; they called Canada geese "Canadian geese" which is a neologism which drives me crazy; and finally (is that all?!) they said the CN in CN Tower stands for "Canada's National". Which is just stupid, although according to this Wikipedia page not entirely wrong.

After the tour we visited what Delphine calls the Lemming Ball, for reasons I will leave to her to explain when she has a blog. It's a giant, hollow cement sphere which you can walk into through a wooden ramp. It is surprisingly underdocumented on the Internet (or else I am searching wrong) and you'd have to see it to really understand. The girls thought it was really cool; I was too busy Twittering about two old people sitting on a nearby bench making out like teenagers.

Next we charged over to Yonge Street (in the hot hot sun) in search of the Royal York Hotel. Those of you who are smarter than me will be saying, "Hey, isn't the Royal York on Bay Street?" As it turns out, it is, so we charged over to Yonge Street, walked under the Gardiner (boo, hiss) and then (once I realized my mistake) charged back west on Front Street until we finally reached the elegantly air conditioned Royal York. I thought the girls would be impressed by the shiny old-school, dimly lit, brass-and-Persian-carpets luxury of it, and so they were. They also immediately quieted down and behaved like princesses as soon as we got inside; to the manner born, they are.

We found a fancy hotel restroom and took our time freshening up, and then I impulsively suggested that we go to Epic for drinks. The maitre d' was busy on the phone helping someone plan his (or her) proposal dinner, so we found ourselves a table and ordered lemonade for Cordelia, a Shirley Temple for Delphine and iced tea for me. (That's "drinks" when you travel with a four-year-old and a seven-year-old.) The drinks came with an elegant silver bowl of not-entirely-elegant snack mix: beer nuts, wasabi peas, cheese crackers, and sesame chips. It was delightfully refreshing, all the more so because for some reason they only charged us for my drink. I guess it pays to be really cute.

On the way home we intersected with about a million cranky TDSB teachers TTCing home from Spence-a-palooza with their unwanted green tote bags. It's interesting to see how many teachers live in our neighbourhood—there were at least four on our bus alone.

(I may have inadvertently insulted our French/gym teacher within his earshot. I was talking to an acquaintance, also a teacher, and saying I wished we had a proper gym teacher at our school; the kids either get a non-gym teacher who happens to be free at the right time, or they get M. Landry who is half gym, half French, but his heart is really in the French classroom. However, what I actually said was "M. Landry is just an angry French teacher", which is, I believe, an accurate characterization. As I said it a guy sitting nearby kind of smirked, and when he got off the bus at our stop he was talking to his friend in a French accent. So, oops, maybe.)

Then we were home and I sent the children off to play at a neighbour's house while I took a few minutes to relax. It was a great day—I love exploring the city with my kids, they are such good company. (Even when they pick and snipe at each other all day as they have been lately.)

Tomorrow they're going for back-to-school haircuts and then we'll hit the library and the park, if it isn't raining.

[Posted at 21:14 by Amy Brown] link