Wednesday, March 20, 2013

An American Canuk

Today was a special day.

I didn't ever participate in a citizenship ceremony. I am a Canuk by default because my parents opted to become Canadians. I was a child at the time and I was in school when they attended their swearing in.

Today I recited the oath of citizenship in English and I mumbled my way through it in French. I repeated it along with 85 new Canadian citizens and a gallery of their friends and family. It was a worthwhile experience particularly for the children who participated with their parents.

It was 1:30 p.m. when the judge began his speech. It was excellent, interesting and gave everyone a lot to think about. He appeared friendly, amicable, intelligent and understanding. Why doesn't someone like that run for public office?

He talked about his family coming to Canada by ship from Greece in the 40's. He spoke of the responsibilities, the satisfaction and the challenges that go along with being a Canadian. He talked about cultural diversity and freedom. He stated that citizenship is not to be taken lightly. He suggested everyone see the country and learn French (clearly he heard all slurred noises during the recitation). He told us how fortunate Canadians are and gave examples of atrocities and the lack of rights in other countries. We found out that there are 250,000 people who apply for citizenship each year. Staggering! It takes two years to be processed.

I looked at the crowds. They were eager. Some were emotional. Family members were immortalizing the moments with their cameras. There was one familiar face in the crowd. It was the face of an American. It was the face of the person for whom and with whom I attended the ceremony. It was hubby.

The time came for the certificates to be presented. Eighty-five people from twenty-seven different countries marched up, shook the judge's hand and became citizens. Hubby walked past sporting a big grin. At the end of  the cermony, the judge invited all the children up to the front to help sing "Oh Canada". It was a memorable experience that made me even more proud to be a Canadian.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Tripadvisor Review - Kalyvia Restaurant, Toronto

I completed a short, to the point tripadvisor review after a recent lunch. There wasn't a lot to say. I'm not an expert on Greek food but what I ate was yummy. Worked it off with four hours of shopping, and hiking from the Chester subway station to the East General Hospital area with a brief liquor store detour for the following very nice, inexpensive red wine recommended by my friend.
I have now completed 17 reviews in 14 cities.
“Delicious, generous portions, reasonable price”
4 of 5 stars

Reviewed 17 March 2013NEW
My friend and I went to this restaurant after an exhausting four hour shopping tour of Honest Ed's. We had been to the Kalyvia before and had enjoyed it. It's clean and unpretentious with simple decor and delicious home style cooking. There's a welcome consistency to their fare. We washed our hands in the immaculate bathroom, then relaxed with a glass of red wine. The waiter pointed out a prix fixe menu...excellent deal, but too much food for us. We had the special of the day - soup, salad and gyros $8.95. It was a large portion and everything tasted fabulous. The service was excellent. On the way out, we noted that the restaurant had been written up in magazines. I can see why.

I added some photos.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

That's What A Friend Is - Part 2

I have one really good friend who fits almost all the "....Friend - Part 1" criteria. We have known each other for many years. We've worked together. We've studied together. We've attended conferences and we've partied together. We've gone to galleries, taken courses and seen live performances together. We've baked, picked, pickled and cooked together. We've shared our child rearing successes and frustrations. We've discussed our philosophies, enjoyed experiences and talked about regrets. Sometimes, we just "hang out". Often we simply sip some wine and laugh.

This  week, we had one of those times. After chatting on the phone about many things, I happened to mention that I wanted to go to Honest Ed's. I lived near that store as a child and just felt like going back and visiting the area.

"I want to go too," my friend said excitedly. "Let's go during March Break."

Realizing that this was likely a place where we could go during the break that wouldn't be filled with children, we made a date. As soon as we arrived, it began. There was a funhouse mirror at the entrance. We laughed as we attempted to pose for photos.



We didn't understand the enormity of the store. There were stairs going up and down and and connecting walkways. Everywhere we looked there were decorations, antiques and treasures.
All items were unique, disturbing or just weird.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said in one of his quotes."It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."  We were, and it was a blast.

We spent a total of four hours and realized well into the afternoon that we needed to go and have some lunch. When we saw this clipping about Ed's annual turkey giveaway, I mentioned that I always wanted to line up for this. (blog "Turkey Time", Nov. 29, 2012) It's still on my bucket list. My friend immediately announced that she'd go and line up with me. In fact, we decided that I'd go into the city the night before and we'd head out early. Hurrayyyyyyy...Christmas 2013 it is!

And as the story by P.K. Hallinan says.....

    "You can laugh. You can cry. You can watch cars go by. You can have a great time and not even try! A friend is a person who likes to be there... 'cause you two make a wonderful pair! And when all's said and done, the natural end is...a friend is a friend...That's what a friend is!"

Saturday, March 16, 2013

That's What A Friend Is...Part 1

I looked up the word "friend" on and came up with these top 3 definitions.

 1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
Interesting isn't it? I would never, ever have offered any of those choices of words to describe my friends. They seem inadequate at best. To me, a friend is so much more.
I think it may even possible to have friends who serve different functions in our lives. There are those we can rely on in times of crisis, who put our perceived catastrophes into perspective;  those whose experiences, philosophies and tastes we can discuss, share or disagree about;  those who are honest with us no matter what and "lay the cards on the table" as the saying goes;  those who forgive our mistakes and stand by us; those we trust - the confidantesthose who empathize, feel our pain;  those who celebrate our accomplishments without envy and without having to "one up" us;  those who remain steadfast throughout some or all of our livesthose with whom we laugh and those with whom we cry. If we are very fortunate, we have might have a friend who encompasses all those qualities. For many of us, it's our spouse. For some of us, we may be lucky enough to have another friend who's that much of a "good buddy" as it were.
There are temporary friends which we outgrow for some reason or another. There are friends who move far away with whom we lose touch. In that case, the friendship was likely not important enough for either party to maintain. Sometimes, friendships are toxic and we move on.
I had an instructor once who asked, "Do we really have a lot of close friends, or are they just acquaintances?"
That was a thought provoking question. I gave it some consideration and assessed my situation. How many people did I feel were true friends? The list became quite small. Fingers on one hand small....quality won out over quantity.

There's a children's book by P.K. Hallinan which I always enjoyed.

Very simply, it says it all, "A friend, is a friend. That's what a friend is."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Looking in the Rearview Mirror

I can't tell you the exact moment it happened. It just did. It was like a switch flipped. I was suddenly looking at life from the other direction, from the latter years. I was no longer viewing the world, its wonders, it problems, its possibilities, its craziness, in the same way. Rather, I was seeing it from the perspective of a mature person with an arsenal of life and experiences behind her. I was looking through the eyes of a person who is closer to the end rather than the beginning of her existence.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have a sudden urge to sport the obligatory gray permed hair, stretch pants and flora or fauna motifed sweatshirts. I'm also not sitting around waiting until I die. I'm not even anywhere near the end of my bucket list (I recently went back and actually crossed off a few items). My imagination, my childlike curiosity and my sense of adventure still exist. It's just that I sometimes spend time looking back  At this point, there's more behind me than there is likely to be in front. When I do this, I dwell on that which I should have done differently. Sometimes, but not as frequently, I celebrate my achievements. This makes me sad.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Clubs

I know many people who have joined book clubs. I have one friend specifically who has belonged to various groups over the years. She has travelled far and wide to attend discussions about these readings. From time to time, I have asked her for a book list and I have enjoyed some of the offerings. I have thought about joining a similar group. On the one hand, it would force me to read things which are not in my usual repertoire. On the other hand, I'm not certain that I would then enjoy meeting with a group of people to discuss the books at length. That would remind me too much of high school English classes, where you hated all literature once it was analyzed ad infinitum.

Recently, I was considering joining my friend yet again. I looked over the book list. I read summaries of the selections. As a result, I sent her this letter. She suggested I turn it into a blog.

Guten Tag,

I hope your day is spectacularly lovely. I'm confessing now that I'm probably not enough of a scholar to attend a book club. I have a hassock full of pocket books, non fiction and novels (I love used book stores), which I plan to read this year. A few are non fiction and the fiction, sadly are of a "lighter" nature. I like mysteries, crime, historical, social issues, Amish romances...realistic stuff like that. Don't get me wrong, I have read some award winners and excellent pieces of literature since my Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins years. I'm not a total flake.

Soooooooooo, the jury's still out on the possibility of the book club. I looked up the titles and there's not much diversity there. They all have a common thread and similarly weird themes (futuristic/other world/doomsday) which I have trouble buying into. I can't read books if they're based on implausible presumptions. I have absolutely no imagination whatsoever. Also, I don't do fairies, fantasies, varmints or vampires. I think my interests lie somewhere on the spectrum between Harlequin and Herzog.

 I 'm tired now...was up until midnight reading a piece of by Jude Devreaux. Sheesh, Perhaps I should join a book club and read more high brow stuff.

                                                                ya'...take care. Auf wiedersehen. H

I did not make it to the book club meeting. Now I kind of wish I had. I'm thinking it might be a fun social event and an opportunity to spend time with a friend. Oh well, back I go to my hassock. I shall try to put a dent in my collection now by reading the latest Robards mystery.