There’s a Hole in the Bucket (List), Dear Liza

I’ve never been a bucket list kind of person. Which is weird, because I’m a list person. “Girl of 100 Lists” is one of my favourite Go-Gos songs because it feels as if it was written just for me. But the “bucket” list, that big, big list of dreams, goals and aspirations, has never appealed to me. It feels too grand, too fantastical, especially when it’s full of things that just don’t seem realistic. My lists are, if nothing else, pragmatic.

For instance, my imaginary bucket list would include jumping out of a plane. I would love to do this. I would never do this.

My imaginary bucket list would include travel to lots of places, but pragmatic me, for reasons both environmental and personal, is fairly anti-travel. I’m sure we were promised Star Trek-style transporters by now, weren’t we? Until those are available, I’m happy to stay home.

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The Best Restaurant

Let me tell you about the best restaurant I’ve been to lately…

Nestled in a corner of Parkdale, the room is pale green with a wall covered in black and white photos of (mostly weird) celebrities. The table is large and round, glossy black with red and orange accessories. Seating is straight-backed parsons chairs; super-comfortable with lots of back support, and covered in slipcovers that evoke a mid-century lounge. The lighting is bright but not glaring, and nobody EVER turns down the lights to near-darkness just as you’ve started to read the menu. The soundtrack on the stereo is whatever you want it to be, but mostly leans to bebop jazz or Klezmer music at brunch. Nobody, diners or staff, wears perfume, cologne, or bad aftershave. Service can be a bit haphazard, but is warm and charming, and nobody ever corrects you when you mispronounce the name of the wine, or uses their pinky finger to point out the various elements of a dish while you sit impatiently waiting for them to shut up and go away so you can eat already. The linens are well-washed cotton napkins, not old tea towels that shed all over your outfit. The menu changes daily, and ranges from super-simple to multi-course high end fare, offered at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Brunch is served on weekends. There’s only one table so your meal is never interrupted by other guests, and there’s no worry about social distancing.

Welcome to my dining room, which I’ve discovered that I prefer over pretty much any restaurant I’ve ever been to…

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Taking Stock – May 2020

I’ve swiped this great idea from Pip at Meet Me at Mike’s. It’s a fun way to look at what’s interesting and important and it’s very grounding to take the time to stop and think about my answers based on the past month.

Taking stock:

Making: knitting rainbow scarves for wee nieces’ Christmas presents
Cooking: easing into summer salads and trying to make do with the not-exactly-right ingredients because a trip across town for one specialty item seems frivolous — but is it still a Nicoise salad with a different type of olive?
Sipping: Hidden Temple Gin with Elderflower tonic; tastes like candied flowers and goes down way too fast
Reading: I’ve still got all the Zola to read but my author of the summer (in which I read through the entirety of their available work) for 2020 is E.M. Forster
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No Mo’ FOMO

I just bought a dress online. I had decided in Before Times that in 2020 I would not buy any new clothes unless I was replacing something that was no longer wearable. For instance, I bought new socks when all of my regular ones seemed to lose their elastic at the same time and kept scrunching down into my sneakers and bunching up under the arches of my feet. So the dress was totally unnecessary and a broken promise to myself, but it was super cute, very me, and something that I’d wear a lot.

If I actually had a place to go to that required wearing a cute dress.

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Zoom Is in the House — Live Theatre Online

My husband Greg and I are fortunate enough to not be overly affected by Covid-19 and the associated lockdown. The one major change the shutdown has caused for us is the cancellation of all live performances. Our day planners are sad patchworks of crossed out and canceled concerts and theatre events.

So when Factory Theatre announced a live, online, one-night-only performance of a show we had tickets for, we figured sure, why not.

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The Misanthrope’s Guide to Covid Grocery Shopping

At 8 weeks and counting, you’d think we’d have the basics figured out. After all, for most of us, if we don’t have a dog, grocery shopping is the only reason to leave the house. And maybe because purchasing essentials is the only reason we’re leaving the house, interacting with others has become kind of terrifying.

Headlines such as “Why shopping for groceries is no longer fun” or “We’ll never shop for groceries the same way again” make it clear that a meandering stroll through the aisles is now a thing of the past. There is no lingering, no reading labels, no picking out the non-bruised apples. You need to get in there (after standing for 45 minutes in line), get your stuff, and get out as fast as possible.

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Adjusting — The Blackbirds Know

The red winged blackbirds are back.

They were late this year and it seemed as if they knew the current state of affairs and just decided to bypass Southern Ontario for safer places up north. But then the first “ocaleeee” rang through the trees of the Victorian neighbourhood near us, from a high branch or the peak of a gingerbread-trimmed rooftop, flashes of red catching the eye as they moved about. And then there were more, and more again, like incidents of this virus, multiplying exponentially, so the cacophony is now almost deafening on certain blocks. Turns out, the blackbirds don’t care about current affairs. They return every March, regardless of whatever is going on with the humans they encounter, here to scream their fool heads off, decimate bird feeders, terrorize local cats, and generally welcome spring, pandemic be damned.

Despite the freakishly empty streets, this is heartening. Likewise the songs of the bluejays, chickadees and the laser blast of the male northern cardinal looking for love. Snowdrops and early crocuses are appearing in front yards, buds are close to bursting on various varietals of trees. The tips of privet hedge branches are a greener shade of grey than they were a week ago. The raggedy green leaves of the first dandelion burst from a crack in the soil against a sunny, south-facing wall.

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When This Is All Over

What are you calling it? Post-pandemic? In the future? When this damn mess is done? You know what I mean, that ephemeral, non-specific point in the future when we get back to normal. Or whatever normal will mean at that point. When we all peek out, tentatively, like shy forest creatures, from the nests we’ve created for ourselves, our warm, safe places, and shuffle through the dew-laced leaves to look up to the bright sky with optimism and hope.

Is it even wise to think this far ahead? Or just safer and more practical to think of the day-to-day, getting the outside things done and then scurrying back in to the safety of our own homes like the governments and health officials tell us to?

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Got Blog? Yes, Some People Still Read Blogs

It’s a weird old world we’re living in these days, especially online where traditional forms of media are falling behind in favour of social media, and the news sites that still exist care more about clicks and views than producing interesting content.

I realized recently that much of what I read on an average day is often a rehash of another story or article from a different site, likely posted a couple of days before. And even then, a lot of what I’m coming across (aside from local, breaking news) is just variations on the same theme. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of truly original content out there.

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No Talking

There’s a popular philosophy that silence can equal strength. Saying nothing often says more than any words. But what about when you’ve been silenced involuntarily?

Like many people this month, I’ve found myself flattened by a cold. This is not rare or unusual except that at the exact same time the virus hit me, I experienced an allergic reaction to the massive amounts of Christmas tree debris that some of my neighbours left strewn about the elevators and hallways of our building as they took their dead trees to the garbage. Even though building staff seemed to be vacuuming continuously, we were finding needles in the rugs in our (tree-free) apartment.

I’m allergic to evergreens but the worst I usually get is itchy ears in the spring when the conifers pollinate. So when I woke one night unable to breathe, my throat swollen near closed from inflammation and likely a bit of anaphylaxis plus the typical cold-related mucus gluing it all together, I was terrified and really shaken.

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