Time away & a selfie in Stratford

Time away & a selfie in Stratford

Friends decided I needed a brain break from 2020. They arranged for a weekend of food, wine, a play and a selfie in Stratford, Ontario. One waggish friend asked if I combusted when I left Toronto. Happy to report I remained un-scorched. We meandered up via the back roads for a glorious weekend of wandering around, eating, and sleeping. And more eating. Oh the food.  I’ve been trying to remember when I last escaped for a long weekend. At least 10 years, likely longer. There just didn’t seem to be any time to sneak off and be a tourist. Even before mom’s cancer diagnosis, there were other health issues that cropped up and kept us busy.  We wanted to go to Niagara Falls this summer, but life conspired against us.

People should think of Stratford for more than plays. What a great place to relax.  Great architecture, interesting history, wonderful places to stay and some of the best food I’ve had in a while.  It’s been so long since I fully relaxed, I thought I’d never be able to again. Ah, the peace and quiet of Stratford soon put that into the past.

I took my camera with me, but didn’t use it a lot, more interested in just walking and drifting. I managed to get a few decent photos though.

Photo of signage for The Three Houses B&B

Only regret? Didn’t spend enough time sitting by the pool

My only regret about the weekend? I didn’t spend enough time sitting by the pool, sipping wine and listening to our hosts regal us with great tales. We came for the quiet and left craving more entertaining stories – thank you David Lester! ROFL I could go back right now and not budge from the backyard pool. Just sit drifting with the breeze, laughing at the stories about Stratford & the festival. Single best weekend I’ve spent in at least 2 decades.

Photo of the front door of The Three Houses

The stories are worth the trip alone.

I did take some time to snap a selfie in Stratford

This is my favourite one. If I had just an inch or two more of height!

Selfie taken in a medusa like mirror showing just the top of my head

I’m too short for most selfies

The long weekend was … perfect in so many ways. Wonder if David needs a kitchen gnome. I’d be happy to perch in a corner, looking mildly decorative, being fed amazing breakfasts. Hmm, the banana pancakes. The croissants and jam. I better stop now, or I’ll never end this entry.

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It was a brilliant idea – now if only I could remember what it was

It was a brilliant idea – now if only I could remember what it was

This Post-it has been stuck to my desk for months:

Post-it note with the word "epiphany" written on it

The first part is easy – it’s a site I wanted to look up. Not a clue what the epiphany moment was. I remember thinking “THAT’S BRILLIANT” (with multiple exclamation points required) and then the second thought was a fatal “Oh I’ll remember this”. I keep it on my desk in the vain hope I’ll actually remember what the earth shattering idea was. It’s really bugging the shit out of me. I’m at that awkward age where I keep pretending my memory is as elastic as it was at 18. If it was, I wouldn’t have 6 notepads half started with scribbled little notes. And yes, I do have 6 notepads on the go. I keep leaving them all over the city and have to start a new one when I can’t find the old one. When I retrieve the misplaced notepad, usually a friend or customer sends me a note about it, I put it in the pile until it’s rotation comes back up.

Was I going to change the world? Would it lead to enlightenment? Or maybe it was the perfect espresso ratio? Whatever it was, it’s lost for ever.

Meandering towards spring

Meandering towards spring

Incredible change in the weather. It’s not sub zero, rainy, cloudy, sleety (is that a word?) blah for a change. Just a beautiful spring day here in Toronto.   In the space of about 2 weeks, we’ve gone from -10 with the wind chill to a balmy, lovely 13 Celsius (that translates to 55 F for my American friends). Lovely jubbly! It’s been a dreary, dreary month. The sunshine is such a break.

The sun and warmth means garden season isn’t long off now. Traditionally it’s the May long weekend – also called the 24 weekend to symbolise the case of beer that will be sacrificed over gardens all over the country. I’ve been rethinking my little balcony garden. We’re up so high, we get tremendous winds so some plants don’t do well. Plus there is a  temp difference, always a bit cooler (especially at night) than on ground level. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it over the last few years. So we need fairly hearty plants to deal with wind, intense sun in the afternoon and possible chills in the evening.

Last year my peppers were hammered by aphids. I was on the verge of abandoning my peppers, which would break my heart, until I found some plant sites that recommended combining certain plants to discourage aphids. So, I’ll give it a try.

We have this great planter from Lee Valley Tools http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?p=74090&cat=2,44663,71822,74027 Lee Valley Tools Veg planterand it’s great for balconies. I’m going to move it against the wall so it gets lots of sun, but protects it more from the wind. Wind became a real issue last year, with the gusts so strong we tied things down. In this planter, I’m going to put the pepper plants along the back, add some chives and oregano between them. Not sure which peppers I can get, some years the pickings are slim. I’m also going to plop in some rosemary again along one end and some thyme (regular and lemon) and nasturtiums in front. I’m going to add a peat mixture to the soil this year. Hopefully it will help prevent the moisture wicking that happens with the wind.

Under the planter, I’m going to line up  basil pots. They’ll get plenty of sun, but have a bit of protection from the wind and direct sun. The sun can be so intense up here, basil tends to die off quickly. I might try some coriander this year and some mint. But, like I said, it really depends on what’s available. Last year was hugely disappointing as far as offerings.

I’ve also picked out a couple of lavender plants, which has done well in the past.  Along the edge we’re going to plant more nasturtiums. Last year they thrived so I’m going to put some with the lavender as well as with the herbs – you can never have too many nasties. Nasturtiums are supposed to be good aphid deterrents. They’ll look great and add a great peppery taste to a salad.

Haven’t picked out tomato plants yet. Looking at a beefsteak variety and hopefully a nice heirloom zebra. Again, it depends on what we can find. Some years the garden centres lack all imagination when it comes to plants. I’m playing with maybe a sunburst zucchini squash. Not sure yet, it might not thrive. But I’ve run across a couple varieties that are supposed to do well in containers.

We’ve had tremendous luck with lettuce varieties as well so we’ll throw one of the mixes in. One summer we had lettuce pretty much for all of august and into Sept.

We’ll need some more ivy – English and German for around the pots. We’ve planted Snapdragons previous years and have been pleased with how they do. Our lilac tree survived the winter and is already showing leaves.  Keeping our fingers crossed that it flowers. We have wildflower seeds as well.   We’re going to devote a large planter just to them and place the planter near the balcony door, so that’s the first thing we see every morning. The bees will enjoy it too. I’ve noticed in the past 2 years, bees making their way up to the 20th floor to hover about our plants, so that makes me happy.

Word salad day – musings on mundane headline failures

Word salad day – musings on mundane headline failures

explosive explosion bomb sign symbol icon boom

Destroy: (v) 1. End the existence of (something) by damaging or attacking…

2. Ruin (someone) emotionally or spiritually

3. Defeat (someone) utterly

Oxford dictionary

I wish writers and editors would buy a thesaurus.  They aren’t expensive.  The over used verbiage in headlines lately has caused a lot of keyboard to head banging moments on this side monitor. There seems to be a dearth of imagination out in the wilds of the web. In the last 24 hrs, I read 5 separate headlines that loudly proclaimed “This person DESTROYED [insert opposing candidate/idea] completely” or “Must see video that DESTROYS [insert oppositions] claims. I lost track of how many times it was used in the week. Over and over and over in the past few weeks editors are intent of proving the world has been utterly destroyed by some fallacious argument. It must be the copy editors flash card of the month word.

I look at the headlines and roll my eyes so often, one day they’ll stick in a permanent “Spare me” expression. Inevitably, the link will lead to some actor or comedian regurgitation same over done points.  Then I have to endure the endless shares of the same articles with people who write “Oh you have to read this – so and so DESTROYED them”.  I’ve started responding with “Um .. no they didn’t.” Usually the counter argument is teeth grindingly bad.

The point is, they don’t destroy anything.  The word is over used, it’s lost all meaning.  In no way have any of these posts proven an opposing point of view has been destroyed. The other person or idea is still there, the opposing arguments are still making the rounds. If the opposing arguments were well and truly destroyed we wouldn’t be seeing creationist museums being built or all opposing political parties would instantly cease to exist.  Occasionally (very occasionally) I read an article that makes an excellent counterargument and does prove the other theory or idea is flawed. But again, the other side is not decimated, destroyed, pounded into non-existence, demolished, shattered, ruined … you get the idea.

If you’re an editor or writer buy a dictionary and discover what the word actually means. Then do me a favour and learn how to use a thesaurus and mix your words up a bit.  As far as destroy is concerned … just stop using it, okay? Just stop.