Monday, June 29, 2015

My Summer To-Do List

I read several versions of summer bucket lists. I like the idea, but not the terminology. Bucket list to me implies, things to do before I die. I hope I'm still here in the Fall.

A friend suggested that making such a list puts pressure or added stress. I don't see it that way. I find it a good way to organize my thoughts and ideas. I can come back to my list anytime and say "Oh yes...forgot about that." Or, if I have nothing to do, I can find something and cross it off the list. I don't see any of it as obligatory...all optional. It helps to keep me from frittering away summer days doing nothing especially since summer goes by so quickly.

I can't see making a list of ridiculous, time consuming things. But then, who am I to judge someone else's interests? If someone really feels they want to have a weed picking contest, or a frozen t-shirt competition, go for it. Perhaps others will think my list is silly.

It has taken me some time to get going on this, primarily because it seems to have taken some time for summer to get going this year. Even now, I'm not certain that we're there. Nonetheless, here are some of my plans. Some cost money, others don't. Watch for additions of ideas as they pop into my head or activities come to my attention. Right now, I just want to get what I have out there. Some sound like chores because they are. Nonetheless, it feels good to get those done and crossed off a list. I'm excited. Let's see how many I will do. Some things might even be worth doing more than once.

1.  Go to NYC and see the 9/11 museum (done, see previous blog)
2.  Get a mani pedi each month of the summer (June done, July, August done)
3.  Go to Laveanne Lavender Fields (no lavender before I left, too late now might go anyhow)
4.  Have high tea at Stillwater on the Lake (didn't but a friend did)
5.  Enjoy Canada Day festivities and attend Cobourg Waterfront exhibits (free bands, parade, men falling from the sky etc.
6.  Take a tour bus to the Maritimes and Newfoundland (booked)
7.  Visit the Toronto Textile Museum to see Frida Callo photographs and Picasso exhibit
8.  See Adam Sandler movie Pixels...not because it's good but because it was filmed in Cobourg (there are others I'd rather see)
9.  Go to Hastings auction and take stuff there
10. Remove chairs from stepmom's condo
11. Roseneath Fair and/or go see carousel (Sept. 25... I hear it's a good one. I'll add it to my fall list..done)
12. Stone wrapping, Port Hope (too expensive to wrap rocks) (done in October)
13. McMichael Gallery to see special exhibits esp. Norval MorrisseauWoodland School Artists
14. Go to view the Blue Jays annual trouncing of Yankees (Aug) Not a trouncing but 3-1 ain't bad
15. Get busy writing least one a week (hopefully more about these experiences)
16. Clean my office, storage room, garage etc. (on the list all the time)...not happening. I have an alien lifeform in the basement and in my office. More on that in another blog coming entitled "Aliens and Other Basement Dwellers"
17. Organize photographs (this has been a work in progress, making good progress)See excuse after #16
18. Krinos taste of the Danforth Aug. 7-9 (Did tastes on Danforth with my friend in conjunction with seeing Kahlo exhibit and wrote tripadvisor reviews).
19. CNE (haven't been in years) Aug. 21-Sept. 7
20.  Ribfest - go to one of these and actually eat some ribs (Aug. 14-16) nope
21. Go browse in Warkwarth, just because
22. Go look at sandcastles on the beach (Aug. 1) OR register to build one
23. Listen to some of the concerts in the and in other towns
24. Visit Dorothy's House, Historical Museum in Garden Hill
25.  Go to a friend's cottage, if I'm ever invited...hang out for a day (hope hanging for an hour and a half counts)
26.  Visit PT Barnum's house....I've driven past, never been inside
27.  Go to Alpaca Vista ranch Grafton
28.  Go to one of the many summer theatres - Westben, Cobourg Firehall etc. Enjoy a show.
29.  Primitive Designs has new displays which I haven't seen....giant dinos and the like
30.  Read 4 books (hopefully more but the point of goals is to make them attainable)
31.  Lose 10 pounds
32.  Go to the German Embassy and find out how one becomes a citizen.
33.  Find the Cranston gallery in Bloomfield and find out where it got its name
34.  Practice my ukelele so that I might rejoin the Cukes now that I can see
35.  Play a round of golf or my version of it or maybe even mini golf.
36. Go to Canadian Canoe Museum (it's supposed to be more interesting than it sounds)
37.  Edwards Gardens summer music concerts
38.  Blow bubbles.
39.  Go to Ripley's aquarium
40.  Write some letters...the old fashioned anyone that inspires me. I now have paper.
41.   Fly a kite someplace.
42.   Play badminton, croquet, or horseshoes (we have these games stashed away someplace)
43.   Bake something exotic....NOT macarons.
44.   Pick some berries (there's a blueberry place near Orono I've wanted to visit).
45.   Hang out at the library and look at those old fashioned things....books
46.   Play a street piano (not sure if they exist this year) they exist, blog to follow
47.   Spend a day taking photos...plants, animals, buildings, street pianos. Go to whatever surrounding moves me
48.   Have a picnic somewhere.
49.   Anyone have a karaoke machine? a scene from my favourite movie with a friend.
50.   Go to the drive in. (8 years here and I've never been to one that's 2 km away)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Day in NYC - Part 2

After leaving the 9/11 memorial, we decided to acquire some lunch. We walked for a bit but were very tired and thought that the famed Katz's Deli might be an interesting option. I was game for anything but pizza. We hopped into a taxi which looked large enough for 5 people. It wasn't. Nonetheless, we wedged ourselves in and closed our eyes as the driver skillfully and frighteningly negotiated the streets and squeezed between vehicles. He dropped us off two and a half miles later at the corner of Houston (pronounced House-ton) and Ludlow Streets. There we saw the signs.

The building was nondescript but as we entered, we were amazed at the massive size of the interior. We were handed tickets which were not to be lost lest there be a $50 surcharge on exiting the establishment. Yikes!

Inside, there was a choice of self serve, then take your chances getting a table, or table service. We opted for the latter. As we headed through the busy deli to our table, I saw hundreds of photos of actors who had eaten there. I also saw signs, "send a salami to your boy in the army" and "where Harry met Sally...hope you had what she had!" The latter of course, being found above the table where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal sat in the movie "When Harry Met Sally." (I have no idea how the gentleman with the child managed to get into all my photos. White shorts...not my thing.)

We were given a menu...extensive and perfect for meat lovers. Beverages included New York egg creams, a treat which I only learned about a few years ago from hubby. They also had a large selection of Dr. Brown's sodas. These were new to me and came in flavours such as celery tonic (really?) and many tastes that were more pleasing sounding. I picked diet black cherry...yum. After perusing the menu, I decided to have what "she" was having in the movie, although I opted for only a half reuben sandwich and matzo ball soup. As I thought, the soup was excellent and the half sandwich was more than enough. I was not adventurous enough to try Katz's tongue or the chopped liver and egg although I sampled a bit of hubby's liver and it was delicious...from his sandwich that is.

So finally, I had the quintessential New York deli experience. Although the place was crowded and chaotic and the washrooms looked and felt like outhouse add-ons, I'd come back again. The menu is so interesting, I'd love to try something else. Perhaps next time, it could be blintzes, or knishes, or even potato or noodle kugel. Don't ask me what those are until I've had a chance to go try them.

Of course, on the way out, there was a stall with souvenirs...mostly t-shirts from what I saw. The tickets needed to be returned along with proof of payment and after this, we were allowed to leave the premises. The price was not inexpensive, but I think we did get value for the money. Besides, we had a true New York experience that's not to be missed.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Day In NYC - Part 1

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure joining family members on a commuter train along the Hudson River to Grand Central Station. Our ride was a total of 95 kilometres and lasted just over an hour and a quarter. Since the trip was scenic and comfortable, the time went quickly.

We passed numerous highlights including Storm King Mountain, Bear Mountain Bridge, West Point, the remains of Bannerman Castle and some amazing topography like the Palisades, rising from the west bank of the Hudson River.

When we arrived, I was amazed at the magnificence of the aptly named Grand Central Station. It was huge and it was gorgeous.
After finding our way to the appropriate subway, we boarded and headed toward our destination...the 9/11 memorial and museum. As for the subway ride, interesting. I've seen photos of  pushers in Japan who ensure that as many people as possible are crammed safely into each train car during rush hour. Although it was only morning, the subway was so crowded that I was thinking New York might benefit from some of these types of workers.

Before long, we arrived at our destination. The grounds were meaningful and lovely. There were two square pools representing each of the twin towers in the spots where they had stood. The beautiful new freedom tower is also known as 1 World Trade Center.

We were in line and admitted to the museum at noon, our designated time. As we passed through the halls, we were reminded of the horrors of that day. There were videos, artifacts, photos, news clippings, video, and items of a personal nature. Some personal possessions belonging to some of the deceased had managed to remain intact. The exhibit was massive. After several physically and mentally exhausting hours of walking, we still hadn't viewed everything.

We got a real perspective on the heroic acts of the first responders. Fire company 3 lost most of its men in the 9/11 attacks. The flag covered truck was lowered into the museum's foundation, and the building was completed around it.
Another part of the museum is the concrete wall, called the slurry wall, built in the 1960's to hold back the Hudson River. Although the wall began to strain after the attacks, it held up preventing further devastation and flooding of Lower Manhattan and its subway system. The symbolic last column is a steel beam from one of the towers that stands near the wall. While we were there, bagpipers were playing.
The only piece of art that was commissioned for the memorial was created by Spencer Finch. It is made up of 2983 blue squares representing each of the people who were killed on September 11th. It is called  "Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning." Behind the wall lie the unidentified remains of some who died on that day.
As we exited the museum, we were all very quiet. Seeing this was moving and sad. The facts, the faces, and the lives of those lost became more real in this awe inspiring, powerful tribute. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Groggy and Grouchy in Goose Bay

This morning's top headline was "United Airlines flight Diverted to Happy Valley-Goose Bay". Apparently, a plane, bound to England from Chicago landed in Labrador because of mechanical problems.

I know that United Airlines has had its fair share of issues in the past. I for one greatly enjoyed the trio of songs from Dave Carroll, singer with "Sons of Maxwell" after airline employees broke his $3500 guitar. After almost a year of writing letters to United, trying to recoup $1200 in repair costs, Carroll's frustration led him to write the songs. The songs went viral and ended up costing United 180 million in lost stock revenue. Lesson learned?

More recently, singer Sarah Blackwood, seven months pregnant, member of the group, "Walk Off the Earth" was removed from a United Airlines flight because her young two year old son wouldn't stop crying. Although he was asleep by the time the aircraft was finished taxiing, they were ejected nonetheless.

Although there are probably other stories such as these, I started to wonder whether United has issues specifically with Canadian talent.

When I heard today's headline, my initial reaction was "Uh oh, they've done it again." Then I listened to the rest of the story.

The plane was having mechanical difficulties. Rather than starting across the ocean where there would be no hope of finding the craft or its passengers should it drop into the water, arrangements were made to accommodate everyone in Labrador. Obviously, United did not deliberately fly to Labrador to inconvenience the passengers. It was probably on the flight path and the nearest, safest place to land.

The passengers were accommodated as best as possible at an army base. There was no room for this many passengers at a nearby hotel where the crew stayed. Yes, the crew stayed in a hotel. Outrage! Again I say, are you people nuts? It was one night of minor discomfort and of course I'd want the pilots and anyone responsible for passenger safety to be as rested as possible the next day.

So the story goes on. "We were freezing," said one passenger.

Yes, I can see how people from tropical, sunny, Chicago where the flight originated would be freezing in Labrador where the temperature on Sunday was 25C dropping to 8C overnight. On the other hand, I believe they had access to their luggage. Have they not heard of layers? It's not as though they had to sleep on slabs of concrete. They had beds with blankets.

Finally, one person who was interviewed on t.v. news suggested, "We might have been shot." Seriously? Again I say, "You're in Newfoundland, not Chicago"! On the other hand, perhaps they feared the rest of the passengers.

So what's the problem? Instead of viewing this experience as an adventure, instead of being thankful that they were safe, people whined and complained. If this was the biggest discomfort of their lives, they are very fortunate folks indeed.

Newfoundland was certainly appreciated during September 11, when 38 flights were diverted there for security reasons. Passengers were thankful for being safe and cared for however possible back then. It is said that those landings changed passsengers' lives and the lives of those who helped them forever.

Too many people lack common sense. Too many people have memories that are short. Interesting isn't it how flight diversions can be viewed as blessings under different circumstances?  

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Funeral's The Easy Part

It was a source of contention in our house. Last year, it was suggested I look into purchasing a funeral plan. I got my back up. I was annoyed. I was angry at the suggestion that I should have to go and spend money that could be used on other essential things just to prepay a funeral. I was certain that with assets, pensions, bank accounts, and government funding, this could all be covered quite nicely if and when necessary....well, not if, but when.

Begrudgingly, I trekked to the local funeral facility and purchased that which they sell...a funeral. In addition, I bought dead body travel insurance. Now my corpus, which is no longer all that delecti, can be shipped back from anyplace on the planet at the low, low price of free. At last, free travel, no air miles required.

Two things have come of this activity. I am now obsessed with death and dying. Rarely does a day go by when I don't think about or plan for my own demise. I have come to realize that the clock is ticking.

The second is that my survivors will now have no issues since everything is done for them. Right? Wrong!

I know for a fact, tha't the funeral planning and its eventual execution is nothing compared to what follows. Nobody warns us of the complexities involved with owning anything from a driver's license, credit card, real estate, bank account, furnishings, or those multitudinous items which we deem valuable but are only so in our own minds. It's even worse if a person owns more than one of some of the aforementioned items. I believe that the hassle doesn't double but becomes multiplied many fold with each additional "thing".

How do I know all this? I have recently been enlightened by becoming co-executor of a will. Despite the fact that the the individual had downsized to near minimalism; despite the fact that the funeral was planned and prepaid; despite the fact that all files were intact; credit cards up to date, bank statements in order, it's been daunting. The driving around, the government offices, the cancellations, the notifications and the trips to charities with the "valuables" have been endless. The workload and the hours have been overwhelming. It has taken weeks and will go on for months before all is completed.

At some point, I'll elaborate on all of it and perhaps give some helpful hints. At this current time, I'm too busy. I'm busy executing. Most of all, I'm busy getting rid of and organizing my own chaos. If I do nothing else, I'm hoping to make the work easier for someone else once I'm gone. After all, what else do I have to do each day but plan for death and dying?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Prize Night, Southern Style

I've been a bit slow with my postings of late. Once again, life's events, a death in the family, company and so on, not to mention the unstable condition of my computer have slowed me down. I am currently connected to the cyber world through a cord. Imagine that...a cord! My computer refuses to recognize wifi.

So here's the result which follows my last blog.

First born and I took GO transit to CNE. We walked, and walked, climbed, crossed, and walked. After we passed the new soccer stadium and traversed several roads, we scaled a concrete barrier, the reason will be taking place this weekend. (        
We took a bridge over Lakeshore Blvd. and eventually arrived at the Molson Amphitheatre.

I immediately noted that I was too generously dressed. Sleeveless mini skirts and daisy dukes abounded. Plaid shirts, cowboy hats, denim, and boots were the norm. I muttered to myself as I wore my layers, carried my coat, and saw the outdoor venue. "They'll be sorry."

I was soon in a better mood when I saw the box seat section. We appeared to be under a roof and in prime real estate in view of the stage. There was even a counter type table for our all inclusive drinking and dining evening. We were now ready for the Darius Rucker Southern Style Tour.
After meeting our hostess and benefactor from the Wonderlist contest, we sat and perused the menu. We were told to order what we wanted and she would pay at the end of the evening. Pizza would be served when all prize winners arrived.

Being Canuks and not wanting to be too rude, we opted for a delicious appetizer sized bag of popcorn and a couple of Eristof lemon/vodka drinks, in cans.
As we were munching, the first band began to play. My ears throbbed. It was loud. It was unharmonious and it did not give me a sense of cowboy music. Instead, it sounded like a thousand horses. Coincidentally, the name of the group was....A Thousand Horses. Appropriate I thought.

We had time for a selfie prior to the next act,  Brothers Osborne. I think I liked this group and could potentially listen to them again. On the other hand, perhaps they were just more acceptable than the horses. When this group was finished, it was still daylight, but lake effect cooling began. I smiled knowingly as I slipped on my jacket.
Two huge pizzas greeted us prior to Brett Eldredge.  "Hello, I'm pepperoni", said one, while the other remained laid back before announcing its vegetarian status.
Not only was this singer quiet and melodic, he wasn't too tough to look at either. Perhaps I could become a country fan after all.

The crowd linked arms and swayed to the music. They lined up for overpriced food and drinks as we continued to enjoy our personalized service, our $37 pizzas, $8 popcorn and our $10.75 drinks. What a great prize.

Finally came the main event Darius Rucker! The performance was wonderful and very entertaining. I was starting to realize that I could easily become a country fan. The crowds were friendly and out for a good time. Harmless fun. There were no violent or inciting lyrics.
I hated to suggest leaving at around 10:30. Fortunately, the show was almost over. We could avoid the crowds and get the next GO train for the great two hour trek back home.

It was a lovely evening and time well spent with my first born. I'm glad she entered the contest. Now, I'll be off to see what kind of denim and plaid I can acquire for when Blake Shelton comes to town.