White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison
The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose by Diana Janney
The City & The City by China Mieville
Nocturnes: five stories of music and nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
In Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan
A Matter of Justice by Charles Todd
Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik (reread)
Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik (reread)
Black Powder War by Naomi Novik (reread)
Firefly: The Official Companion, vols. 1 & 2 by Joss Whedon et al
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (reread)
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik (reread)
True Patriot Love by Michael Ignatieff
Turn Coat by Jim Butcher
The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World by Jacques Bosser and Guillaume de Laubier
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Bronte Project by Jennifer Vandever
Tomorrow is Canada Day. And you know what that means: Excellent music!
Symphony no. 3 - Schubert
Pavane - Fauré
Norwegian Dances - Grieg
English Folk Song Suite - Vaughn Williams
The 211 bus from Lionel-Groulx metro stops at the corner of Sainte-Anne and Lakeshore, a block or two north of the church. Here’s a map to give you a general idea. Be aware that if you’re driving, parking will be at a premium because of the whole Canada Day festivities thing going on. Give yourself extra time to find a parking place and walk to the church, which will be packed with people.
Free classical music! Soul-enriching culture! And as an enticing bonus, the fireworks are scheduled for ten PM, right after we finish, and the church steps are a glorious spot from which to watch them.
Free admission, and open to the general public. The more the merrier!
All right; my work for the day is done. I have read and written a two-paragraph endorsement of a book coming out this fall, and it’s just as well I didn’t bring it with me; it was mostly correspondences and such, so I needed to do it all in one go to get a feel for the overall book. (And I’ve just been informed that as a thank you, I’m getting a copy of the bound book when it comes out this fall; how nice of them!) Things got off to an early start, what with me getting up at 3:45 AM (hello, insomnia, I have not missed you, and just because I slept an average of four hours each of the past four nights does not mean it’s a pattern that ought to be perpetuated), so I didn’t have to drag myself awake for a couple of hours when the boys left. Also, I ate lunch at 10:30, so I kept being surprised that it was only noon or whatever when I checked later.
Today I got a secondhand book in the post, then a postal truck arrived and gave me my order of Vienna Teng CDs, and just now a second postal truck came by with a different driver, to give me yet another secondhand book. I suspect this is what inefficiency looks like.
Right, so, here it is, the highlight reel of our week away:
SUNDAY we drove to Toronto. The six-hour stretch between these cities is without doubt the most boring stretch of highway in the country. It is flat. It is straight. It is dull. But the drive went relatively well, except for getting off the 401 at Whitby to get to the 407 instead of Ajax. Yeah, we won’t be doing that again. See, despite the little 407 toll route! signs at the exit we took, the 407 doesn’t actually start in Whitby. Lying little signs. You have to take the tiny you-call-this-a-highway 7 to get to it, after driving north on Brock for about half an hour. Which kind of undercuts the whole idea of saving time idea. Anyway, the 407 is a beautiful highway, and traffic-free. Traffic free = stress free. Sure, we pay about $20 to drive almost its entire length, but as we do it only two or three times a year, it’s totally worth it. It saves about 45 minutes, and avoids lots of sitting in traffic, construction, and crankiness.
MONDAY we puttered around. Can’t remember doing anything spectacular, really. We went to the used kids’ clothing store in the morning and found new shorts for the boy, which he sorely needed, and a couple of new books, one of which was a Transformers reader. Wandered aimlessly at the bookstore; there’s nothing out that I want, really, or perhaps more correctly nothing I will spend $10 on when I know I’ll read it in ninety minutes. The boy splashed around in his wading pool for about two hours. And by ’splashed’ I really mean ‘ran at it and took flying dives into it.’ Those are HRH’s genes, thank you very much.
TUESDAY was the family gathering. There were eleven of us: HRH and myself, my parents, the boy, my cousin and his wife, their three-year-old daughter, their ten-day old new baby girl, my aunt (aka my cousin’s mom and my mother’s sister) and my cousin’s mother-in-law over from Japan. I think that was everyone. Oh, we ate. We always eat when family get together. There was cheese and fruit before dinner, and grilled flank with potatoes and cold orzo-grilled veggie salad, and green beans. Dessert was two huge crystal bowls of torn up angel food cake, piled with fresh local strawberries, and further piled with freshly whipped cream. I had both kids on the floor of the kitchen helping me make these, spooning berries over the piles of cake, then trying to spoon the cream on top, but it kept sticking to the spoons so they got it all over their hands. Everyone had two servings, so it’s a good thing we made tonnes of it. It was so light, though; it felt like you were eating air.
WEDNESDAY morning Mum and I went out to Spun Fibre Arts in Burlington to check it out. They have a lovely selection. I went to see what spinning wheels they had in stock, but the owner wasn’t there to demonstrate them. They had the Schacht Ladybug and a Louet Victoria there, and while I’ve heard the Ladybug is more versatile, I was really impressed by the Victoria’s smoothness. After the boy’s nap we went to visit Granddad at the Canadian Warcraft Heritage Museum so the boy could run around among the priceless and irreplaceable airplanes. It was nice and quiet, so my father offered to let HRH crawl around inside one of the only two operational Lancasters in the world. Yeah. HRH was totally blown away. The boy got his kicks sitting in the Fleet and the CF-100, showing me how the sticks still moved the flaps. On the way out we hit the gift shop and the boy chose a really well-done metal toy of the Lanc, and HRH bought a CAF shirt for himself and one for the boy.
THURSDAY we went downtown to the ROM, to see the dinosaurs. I adore the ROM, and this was my first opportunity to see the new pavilion. The natural history exhibits have been installed in this new section, and it all suits very well. You can’t do the entire ROM in one day (well, maybe some can) and I really missed not being able to go through the textiles and the many cultural galleries. We promised the boy he could pick something out at the gift shop of this museum too, and he chose a dinosaur egg, one of those things you put in water and it dissolves/cracks while the dinosaur inside ‘grows.’ It was put in a jar of water pretty much as soon as we got home. We had planned to split up at lunchtime, the boys to have sausages from the cart on the corner, and Mum and I to Remenyi to check for an orchestral tuner. And we did, except the major deviation from the plan was the spectacular thunder and lightning storm we walked out into, totally unexpected after the bright, clear, hot day we’d started with. Mum and I got drenched going across the street, and the boys dashed to the cart and back to shelter to eat their lunches. In the end, Remenyi didn’t have an orchestral tuner, I wasn’t going to buy the very excellently designed and priced cello case I saw without testing it for fit, and we missed the GO train heading back to Oakville. Because yes, we took the GO train to town, and then the subway to the museum, which thrilled the boy to no end because it meant four train rides. We ended up sitting at Union Station for forty-five minutes waiting for the next train, but it wasn’t so bad; Mum and I shared a ham/cheese/tomato bagel sandwich, then we wandered over to the Second Cup where she got tea and I had a delicious caramel steamed milk, which I shared with the boy when it cooled enough. Mum and I entertained ourselves by rating the shoes and clothes we saw go by. People wear the oddest things. That night after the boy was in bed HRH took me out for a caramel latte at William’s Coffee Pub in Burlington, one of our favourite places for a date. (Yeah, we don’t get out much.) To my delight they do decaf lattes. Next time I may go wild and have a mocha, although I love the flavour of the caramel lattes and the balance between the milk, the coffee, and the syrup drizzled on top. I also nipped into The Shoe Company ten minutes before they closed and scored the perfect pair of black leather mules by Liz Claiborne for $60. I have been looking for these ideal shoes for about ten years. I win.
FRIDAY morning HRH and Dad went over to install a fan in a friend’s house, while Mum, the boy and I went out to look at netbooks and do some grocery shopping. We hit HMV because Mum was looking for a Great Big Sea album (which wasn’t in stock, of course, because it isn’t new but not old enough to qualify for the 2 for whatever price promotion), but I picked up the first season of the original Transformers TV show for the boy, who is thoroughly delighted with it. That afternoon his grandparents took him out to visit the local trainyard, where he happily watched engines shunting things all over. An engineer came down out of a diesel locomotive and gave him a CN ballcap, which sent to boy right over the moon. Then they went out for gelato, as did HRH and I, although we went to two different places. Forget ice cream; gelato is where it’s at. (Two dates in two days!) There was perfectly grilled salmon for dinner, brushed with maple syrup and a touch of soya sauce.
SATURDAY we came home. The boy woke me up by gently waving something wet and squishy in my face and saying tenderly, “Look, Mama, I helped it be borned!” The little dinosaur egg had finally crumbled enough and the dinosaur’s foam tail and feet were far enough out that he just couldn’t wait any more. Under HRH’s supervision the jar was opened, the water decanted, and the remaining bits of ‘eggshell’ pulled off. It took him a while going through his dinosaur books in the car on the way home, but we identified it as a chubby little dimetrodon. It was a good trip home, too. I like this travelling on non-holiday weekends thing.
While away, I read In Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan, A Matter of Justice by Charles Todd, Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi, and then I finished Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro and The City & The City by China Mieville the night we got home.
There. Caught up. As usual, it’s nowhere what I wanted it to be, because I’ve already forgotten the little things that made each day special.
I’m going to go read now. I can’t decide if I want to drink a beer or a latte from a packet. To heck with it: red wine it is.
Yes, we are home from our short vacation, and happy to be. We had a fabulous trip, nice and relaxed, and a good trip home. But no matter how good the trip home is, by the end of it we’re always very, very happy to get there.
The cats are talking to us, the vegetable garden is half again as high as we left it a week ago, and the clematis and the honeysuckle burst into bloom recently.
I’ll try to throw down some stuff that happened over the next couple of days so I have a reference for myself. But in brief, I did not buy a spinning wheel, a cello case, or an orchestral tuner. I did, however, read three entire books, and a chunk of a fourth, went to two museums, and held a ten-day-old baby.
So far, our visit has been lovely. I forgot the document I’m supposed to read and a laptop upon which to read it, but other than that, the trip down was excellent, we have eaten excellent food, and had excellent company. Mum and I are about to visit Spun Fibre Arts, a local yarn shop that retails not only Louet, but Ashford and Schacht spinning wheels.
Back soon. And happy belated Solstice, everyone.