Reflections on a Camping Trip Part One

There is a lot of joy to be gotten from simple things. In my case it was a game of catch between myself and  my best friends.

As I write this, I am reminded about the line from “Stand By Me” (the movie). It laments the fact that we don’t have the kind of friends we had in childhood.  Luckily for me, I have had these friends since before any of us could drive.

Guys Camping 2016 009

We had the option of going for a swim, tossing the football around, or even playing Frisbee–though I doubt any of us has a good Wham o Frisbee anymore–and any promo Frisbee adorned with the logo of something like a beer label will just not do. Yes, call me a purist, but that is where I stand on the whole thing.

It was good to throw the ball around, though it was much harder to field the bouncers than it used to be. Maybe the thought of getting my body behind the ball is something I would rather leave to the paid professionals.  Fortunately, the arm felt good and the catching wasn’t too bad.Guys Camping 2016 054

Either way, a game of catch is good because you can still talk. It also takes you back to your childhood, when a game of catch was a significant as anything else–or at least as significant of riding your bike all over the place.

My glove is pretty old. If anyone knows the make or age of it, I would appreciate you sharing your knowledge.  And yes, we picked up some corn from a roadside stand.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, baseball gloves, beer, camping, friends, friendship, Frisbee | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

A Tribute of Sorts

Saturday night, despite camping, was devoted to The final concert of The Tragically Hip.  I have seen them live a couple of times.  I took their music when I went to Japan to give it as much international exposure as I could.  Which really means I played it on my car cassette player whenever I had other people in the car.  At least one person from that time has commented on my Facebook page.

I have a lot more to write about camping and friendship and other things that ring true from that weekend.  However, I just wanted to share this picture with all of you.  This was part of our tribute.  I am not a wine drinker, but I couldn’t say no to a toast for Gordie and the whole band.

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Words fail me.  What can I say for a band that gave so much.

Thank You.  Thank You Very Much.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, camping, The Tragically Hip, wine | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Make my Burrito: A Treatise on Abdicating my Assembling Responsibilities

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Lately, I have become somewhat addicted to burritos. I think I have had one at least once a week for the past two months.

The problem, though some might see it as an advantage, is that you have to instruct the staff on how to make it. While I am good at this at Harvey’s and Subway, I am less confident at a burrito place.  Maybe it has something to do with the difference in ingredients.  I am not saying they are particularly exotic–but I don’t come across them every day.

In a previous post, I might have explained that I usually have a hard time deciding on restaurant meals. I can usually get it down to a couple of choice, but then get a bit stuck.  Thanks to a book on making decisions, I usually ask the waitress/waiter for a recommendation.  Generally this has worked pretty well for me and letting go of this responsibility has been quite liberating.

As a result, I have been employing the same technique to my burrito. When the ask me what I want, I specify the meat (chicken) the tortilla (whole wheat) and brown rice.  After that, I tell them to make the best burrito they can.

Sometimes, like tonight, it throws the staff a little bit. They wonder if I am serious.  I am deadly serious.

Last week, at a different place….an international franchise with a slightly scandalous past, the staff were quite interested in what I was doing. He was surprised, but he was quite amused by the challenge.  He boasted that if I didn’t like what he assembled it would be free.  His co-workers were rather surprised by this.  Perhaps worried is a better word.  They might have assumed I would say I didn’t like it just to get a free meal.  Nothing could be farther than the truth.  Even if it had been bad, I wouldn’t have demanded my money back.  I abdicated my responsibility of assembling it.  I was also looking to be introduced to someone else’s idea of a good meal.  As it turned out, it was awesome.  I mean, the person works there, and probably eats there all the time.  How could it be other wise.

 

Posted in adapting, adventure, adversity, advice, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, beverages, burrito, cherry coke, choice, choosing, decisions, eating, ethnic food, food, restaurant, risks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Without Drawers, But With A View

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I don’t have a desk at work. I have a kind of table…more like a cantilevered slab of leftover countertop really.  I shouldn’t complain because some teachers, especially new ones and temporary summer ones (often one in the same) don’t have anything and they are running around looking for stuff.

I get a bit bummed out at not having a desk, mostly because I would like some drawers and some files….and place to leave some gum.

The only job in which I had a desk was as a shipper and receiver at a warehouse in my late teens. I hardly used the desk and I preferred to use the packing table more than anything else.  Still, I had a desk.  It also had a phone on it, I seem to recall.

While I may pine for a set of drawers to house my gum, paperclips and the evil red marking pen, I am among the very few to have a view. It is a view of homes, all of which are valued at more than a million dollars in the very hot Toronto Housing Market.  The yards are deep and the amount of trees is pretty fantastic for something in the city within walking distance to the subway.

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I just thought I would share my view today. The sky was grey at times (as in this picture) but as it hadn’t rained for a long time, this was not a bad moment.  Not perfect, but not bad at all.

**** I had a bit of trouble coming up with a name for this post.  I would love your suggestions.  I probably won’t change it, but it might help me the next time I go looking for a title.

Other options: A desk with a view (good reference to a Room with a View, but way more literal than literary)

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, ESL, million dollar homes, office furniture, scenery, Toronto Real Estate, view, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Almost Transparent Fog

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There’s a woman I often see jogging past my bus stop in the early morning as I make my dreary half asleep sluggish body towards what will eventually be work. She usually looks quite resplendent in her yellow/high visibility high tech jogging gear.  I have seen her for years and either nodded or verbally uttered a hello–but who can tell at that time in the morning.

For the past year or so, she has been jogging with her dog. This seems pretty cool because she has companionship and the dog has the chance to put out some speed.  If it weren’t for the jogging, I would think that would be a pretty good way to spend a morning–a distant third to a coffee infused morning of a decadent breakfast  or a coffee infused sugar coated breakfast of Sugar Crisp and Nutella covered toast.

This morning, as I scanned the road ahead, I saw the shape of her and her dog running away from me (a sure sign that I was a little later than usual). Her usually vibrant jacket was barely visible, but her form unmistakeable.  The air had a special shimmer and within seconds she and her dog simply vanished.

I peered more deeply, wondering if I was sleep walking or dreaming or just losing my eyesight. I noticed that there was a kind of fog ahead.  While a lazy writer would say that she had been swallowed by the fog, I had to reject the notion.  A swallowing fog would have been dense and white, whereas this fog seemed like a transparent mist.  It hadn’t swallowed her, but rather accepted her and her four-legged companion in.  They were one with the fog and no longer relevant to the outside world.  She hadn’t been swallowed, she had been included.

I traced the fog up from the ground to the sky and was rewarded with a special sunrise. As you can see by the clouds, it was a brilliant kind of morning.  Obviously, it contained Today’s Perfect Moment

August sunrise 2016 004

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, commuting, sunrise, weather | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Spreading the Warmth

\ my lovely blog award

First and foremost, thanks to Just a Girl and a Bike for nominating me for this award.  I appreciate any feedback I can get on my blog.  I  am very happy that you found it worthy of the nomination.  I hope it continues to make you smile.  I also appreciate that by nominating me, you are exposing your faithful readers to my blog.  I will do my best not to let you, or them, down.

Seven Facts about myself (that I haven’t already alluded to)

one

I started this blog as a kind of “Happiness Project”. I wasn’t terribly depressed and life was fine.  I just didn’t think I was happy enough. I was negative when there was no call to be and was much more cynical.  What I can say about that is that it has been a fantastic success.  I have been much happier and while I have not eliminated negative thoughts (because you can’t completely) I am able to quickly guide my way back to positive thoughts.

In fact the last few months have been very positive on many fronts. I have had some many interesting interactions with people–as documented on this very blog, gained tons of confidence and enjoyed life.

two

I got my first cell phone this year. I had resisted for a long time, but finally caved in.  I am not convinced that this makes me any more accessible, and while texting has some advantages, it also has some disadvantages. Emoticons might be useful, but they don’t really capture the range of emotions my voice can.  Also, since they remain in the memory of the phone, they can cause a lot of angst and stress while they are interpreted and reinterpreted.

I should also point out that today my friend accidentally walked off with my phone and it was a real pain in the ass contacting him to let him know he had my phone. I actually need my phone to plan today’s events…but that’s another story entirely.

three

I write three other blogs, though none of them has attained the level of readership that this one has. The first was a hobby blog that I started on blogger but eventually transferred over to WP because there seems to be much easier to cross promote and attract followers here.  It has failed to grow mostly because I have put all my efforts into this blog and have neglected it somewhat.  Certainly a lot of what I post on this blog could be considered hobbies, or at the very least hobby adjacent, it just seems more natural to post them here.  Or perhaps because this blog has more followers, it just seems easier to reach people.

I think secretly I hoped it would be a success and that hobby companies would send me lots of “free” stuff to review.

I started a anger venting blog ( http://aslightlyangrycanadian.blogspot.ca/) because I thought it would be a great place to utilize my sarcastic nature. Once vented, though, those feelings were gone and I haven’t updated the blog in a long time.  I don’t feel too bad about it.

The other is a blog I started to teach my students little chunks of language. (http://englishchunks.blogspot.ca/) While my students said they liked it, they only checked out the site when I posted it on my FB page and practically begged them to go an see it.  I had originally hoped that this would be my ticket to blogging fame and riches.  I got over that notion but I got a little discouraged and haven’t updated it in quite a while.  Only one student wrote to encourage me to keep it up.

four

Every year of doing this blog I have managed to at least double the number of views and likes and comments. This year, this magical feat (at least in views) should be accomplished either today or tomorrow.

I consider that a fantastic success and I am so glad it is working out so well. I would like more comments, but I am confident that will come when I write more posts worthy of comment.  Besides, if I got too many comments, I would probably have to spend a lot more time answering them.

My only other dream is to be featured on WP’s feature Discover. I want my writing to reach as many people as possible and I would love for even a few of my words to make an impact with people.

five

I speak Japanese. I won’t go so far as to say I am fluent, but if you were to drop me down in a Japanese city or town, I would have little problem getting around and doing things.  Honestly, I don’t practice enough, but I do listen when my students are speaking in the elevator–yes eavesdropping is rude, but when you need to practice, you have to find ways to do it.

I speak Kansai ben, which is a dialect of the Kansai region (Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama, Osaka, Hyogo, Mie and Shiga).  It is a little more rough and tumble that Tokyo ben, but that is part of its appeal.

I never thought I spoke any kind of dialect, but whenever I speak with Japanese speakers they remark that I am speaking Kansai ben. I smile inwardly when this happens.

six

I am really fascinated by tattoos but don’t think I will ever get one. It isn’t a pain thing but rather a realization that I have ever changing moods and interests.  What I like one day, I completely forget about the next.  I flit from interest to interest with little rhyme or reason.  One day I am totally obsessed with riding my bike, the next I want to read all the Pulitzer winning novels.  One day I am interested in baking, the next I want to make knives (Thank you Forged in Fire).  One day I want a tattoo of Ryouma Sakamoto, they next I would want the complete text of the poem Invictus.

Couple that with a lot of indecisiveness (now when I go for a burrito–a new obsession–I just tell the counter staff to make it the way they like it and hope for the best. I haven’t been disappointed so far) and you can see that getting something as permanent as a tattoo just isn’t wise.

Fortunately, my students are displaying quite a bit of nice skin art these days.

seven

I have never had a cavity.

Nominations

This is tough. I read quite a few blogs regularly and find it hard to choose.  I also know that some people might find writing this post time consuming and more than a little stressful.  It took me more than a week to respond.

After making my selections, I noticed that this is a list of women bloggers.  Funny how that worked out.  I am quite positive that you will not be disappointed by any of the following blogs.

Bri  Bri is a fantastic advocate for cycling all year round.  Her posts are full of joy and happiness and cycling adventures.

Brittany  Brittany is a completely positive person whose blogs always make me realize I could be doing more, seeing more and living more.

My OBT This was probably the first blog I fell in love with on WP.  This blogger has been the most committed writer I have seen.  Her posts are awesome. (funny, interesting, exotic…there are just too many adjectives I could use)

CeliaCelia If you want to see beautiful pictures of Japan, this is the place.

Sarah Warsi  A fellow Canadian whose posts are thought provoking.

My year in Japan  This is a relatively new find for me, but since I like Japan, I was curious what other first time travelers thought about it.  She deserves more readers.

Katie In a similar vein, I thought people should see  what people are writing about Korea.

Posted in achievement, adventure, ambition, appreciation, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, award, bicycles, blog, blogging, choosing, commuting, happiness, hobbies, Japan, Japanese, kansai ben, tattoo, wordpress discover | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Quests Updated

I think all of us have quests of some kind. Maybe we’re looking for the hockey card to complete our set.  Maybe were looking for the last in a series of Red Rose Tea figurines.  Maybe our quests are to find that someone to live our lives with.  Maybe the quest is to travel to some distant place.

One of my friends has the stated quest of finding the worst song/singer ever recorded. While this seems easy, it is not.  This has to be a song (or songs) that were recorded with the honest believe that they were good, but in fact were unspeakably bad.  As odd as this sounds, this was not an isolated quest and you could probably find reference to it on the internet.  He did manage to find a “gem” of a recording made at the Royal Albert Hall by a wealthy socialite who invited all her friends (presumably who were too polite to decline) to hear her “sing”.  Astonishing really.

I have many such material and non-material quests.

These include collecting:

  • the whole set of the Forever Knight TV series
  • the whole set of hockey cards for the 1993 Toronto Maple Leafs
  • the whole set of Microtrains Canadian series

These include:

  • eating the best pizza ever made
  • eating the best hamburger ever made
  • drinking the best orange pop ever made

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It is this last one that generates today’s post. You might remember a post I wrote about this quest on the first of July.  If you haven’t and are a little curious, please click here.  This is how the story goes.  I have been eating a lot of burritos lately.  I have become obsessed with them.  While doing so, I noticed that a certain brand of Mexican pop was available to be purchased at these restaurants.  While I was usually planning on drinking cherry coke with my burrito, I never gave them much thought.  Yesterday, however, I found a bottle at my local grocery store and decided, on a whim, to take one home.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this flavour. It had a bit more “bite” to it and was very enjoyable.  I would certainly drink it again, and I would put it in my top 5 (currently).

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, beverages, collecting, drinks, hobbies, N scale, quests, trains, vampires | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Some Wine, Some Words, and Some Confusion

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I think my positive …attitude/energy/aura….whatever is really starting to produce some results. I have been meeting a lot of people and having lots of interesting conversations.  Today provided another example of this.

Let me set the scene for you. I was in the Liquor Store (the LCBO for those who don’t recognize the local short form–and why would you unless you were a local) because I am having a function this weekend which required the purchase of a bottle of red wine.  While I like browsing at the liquor store (today I had a sample of vodka and some kind of raspberry soda–don’t really see the point as vodka and orange juice was perfected many years ago…but I digress), there are some areas that have me at a loss.  Wine, red or white or whatever they call that stuff in the middle, is one such area.  I have no idea what would be a “good” bottle of wine.  I have no idea what would be considered “drinkable”.  I have no idea of how much wine the average person will consume at a dinner.  Really, a complete mystery.

Luckily the people at the Liquor store will usually provide some assistance. I know that they train hard at that stuff and can usually be counted on to deliver some useful advice.  Unluckily for me, I couldn’t find any of those people.  I even went to the snooty part of the store (mood lighting, glass cases and jaw dropping price tags) hoping to find such an “expert.”

I took a gamble on a bottle of wine and was about the leave the store when I saw an attractive older woman perusing the same section that I had formerly been in and had grabbed my wine from. “Are you a wine drinker”, I asked figuring that since she was in the wine section and was doing a good job of loading up her cart, she probably had some experience and knowledge which I could utilize.

“Well. I drink wine, but I am no connoisseur” she explained in a very English voice

I laid out my story anyway and showed her the bottle I had selected. She smiled and mentioned that it was one of her favourites.

Of course, English teacher and nosy busybody that I am, I inquired about her accent and we had a nice talk. During this conversation, she said one of the most unique things I have ever heard in my life.

“Your accent is quite soft.”

Unlike the handsome comment from the other day, I was less sure of the complimentary nature of this….well compliment….comment? I have heard a lot of things said about my voice before.  Words like deep, unusual, unique, scratchy, have come up before.  People have called me loud, booming, powerful, but never has the notion of a soft accent come up before.

Now as I type this, maybe she was saying that she didn’t think I was Canadian…. I might have to break out a whole Tim Hortons lexicon on her.

All kidding aside, while I am not sure it was a compliment, I certainly don’t think it was an insult. I appreciate that she shared what she noticed.

 *     *     *     *     *

On another note, what does one do with a bottle of red wine? Does it need to be made cold….or cool?  Seriously, I need to know.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, beverages, liquor, liquor store, shopping, talking, wine | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

“You’re Handsome,” She said.

I kind of find random moments appealing. I’m not talking about random as in unpredictable, but rather random as in “where did that come from?”  As I type this, I suspect I am not really making m point.  I am talking about random as something spontaneous rather than merely unlikely.

I guess I will need today’s Perfect Moment to better illustrate this.

Normally, every summer, we get a large influx of teachers at the school to cope with the demand that seems to grow every year. This year is no different.  In years long past, I often met and tried to befriend these souls who entered when there was little time to train and answer their questions.  Unfortunately, this has not been the case in the last couple of years.  I am not sure why, but I am sure I have made less of an effort to meet people.

While that really hasn’t changed, I did find myself in conversation with these “new” teachers today. One of this interesting group of three is going to be teaching class with me, so I am trying to be supportive.  I  remember what it was like on my first day.  If not for the help of Shauna, I don’t think I would have survived.

During our talk, one made a comment about my lunch. Today, I took a salad.  I mentioned my desire to lose a few pounds rather than wax lyrical about the deliciousness of salads.

That is when the randomness struck. Another of the new teachers said, out of the blue, (hence what I mean about random) and said I was handsome.  She made no mention of the salad.  She made no mention of my weight loss desires.  I really didn’t know where that came from.  I was a bit flabbergasted and merely said “thank you”.

I was receptive, but now I believe I should have returned the compliment.

I did not see her for the rest of the day and was left wondering about her and her compliment. Perhaps it was a dream.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, compliments, staff, teaching | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

What Time Away from the Bike Teaches You

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Some of you might have noticed that I took a week off of blogging. I didn’t really take a week off, but rather was working hard enough that blogging lost its priority status in my life.  Additionally, for totally different reasons, I took a few weeks off from being on the bicycle.  Today, after missing yesterday, I hit the road again.  I have to tell you, missing three weeks off can really teach you some things (or as they say just a bit north of here, it’ll learn you something).

Here’s what three weeks off the bike gets you.

A deep appreciation of rhythm. Getting out on the bike regularly is so much easier than going in fits and spurts.  Your body and muscles are more prepared.  They scream much less when you come to the hills.

A chance to walk up some hills. This is my worst feeling, but sometimes I let a hit get to me psychologically.  I could have just kept going, but it looked steep and it felt steep, and I wasn’t really prepared for it.  I hate that.  I hate holding other people up.  They are too nice to razz me but…maybe they will do it when I am not around.

Either way, it was still a good day to be on the bike and the first 35kms were good enough. There is a holiday tomorrow and I hope to get back on the bike.  They promised a slow ride…we’ll see.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, climbing, cycling, efficiency, exercise, group rides, Newmarket Eagles | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments