One Amongst Many

There are lots of candidates for Today’s Perfect Moment.

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I could choose the weather. Waking up early to a November snowfall was quite pretty–but the first ones always are.  Since I rarely ever pay attention to weather forecasts, this one was unexpected to me.  The air was crisp and the park was a white sea.  I managed to find my gloves and toque and headed to work.

It could be the skateboarder. To call this skateboard weather was certainly pushing it.  At this time of year the gravel and gnarly bits of stuff are all over the road.  Not to mention that a fall on a cold day would certainly incur broken bones.  However, the perfectness of this has more to do with his exit from the bus.  He put his board down in front of the door after lugging it around the bus gripping it by the front trucks.  I suppose he thought he was going to exit the bus in the perfect ollie, (I have to apologize to all skaters here because I haven’t got a clue how to spell this skateboarding term) gliding past the curb and all.  I am sure he had the vide playing in his head and wished somebody would film him.  Unfortunately the bus came to a screeching halt and upset his plans. By the time he recovered his board, the doors were open and a crowd in front and behind had gathered.  There simply was no room to be a hero.

It could have been the young lady with the hockey stick on the subway. I guess she had just purchased it.  It was a beautiful carbon one that probably cost more than some of my bike components and with the exception of my bike and skis, probably cost more than any piece of sports equipment that I own.  I noted that she was a right handed shot and hoped she would score a ton of goals.

It could have been the guy screaming on the bus about getting paid for doing a painting job. He dropped more F bombs than an Eddie Murphy special back in the days before he found God and became a family man.  He also threatened to break the  jaw of the person he was talking to.  These things sound quite bad, but hey, we’re just one big happy family on the bus.

It could have been the book I am reading. After several books that did not live up to their dust jackets, this is a nice surprise.  I have even been able to concentrate enough to read more than a few pages at a time.

You know, I am going to have to go with the book. It is called How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran.  It delivers by being edgy but still maintaining a sense of humour and pace.  I found it in the new section, so I know I won’t be able to renew it and had better get it read this week.  Luckily that won’t be a problem.

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Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bus, characters, commuting, library, reading, snow, subway, TTC, Viva, winter, York Region, YRT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bohemian Rhapsody Birthday

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It wasn’t the perfect birthday for my mother(no bingo, no siblings) but all her children were there and all of us were on our best (a far cry from perfect) behaviour.  Of course there were gifts and cake.  There were also cards of both the paper and digital variety.  Pretty much all the ingredients were there.

The events unfolded quite well. My sisters arrived on time and looking nice.  We proceeded to have a late lunch (lupper…linner–have we come to a consensus on this yet?) and take my mother to her first movie since Hairspray.  Yes, that’s right, she hasn’t been in a movie theatre since then.  So much has changed from the digital printing of tickets (it is completely automated at the local theatre) to the nicely tiered seats allowing a good view for everyone in my vertically challenged family.  She seemed to take it all in stride and didn’t even react loudly when I showed her how much the popcorn and drink combo prices were.

We watched Bohemian Rhapsody as my oldest sister adores Queen.  Had there been a double feature with a movie about George Michael both my sister’s would have been in heaven.  Nonetheless, we all enjoyed the film and the music, without worrying too much about how authentic, or true to life, it really was.  In fact, both my sisters had already Googled all the inconsistencies and related them to me both during and after the movie.

It was good to get my siblings together to celebrate and hopefully we can do this more often without the need for a special occasion.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, birthday, cake, cameras, celebration, cinema, gifts, greeting cards, movies, review, siblings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Doing Better Than Last Year

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Last year was a good year for the blog. I doubled the number of views from the previous year.  This had been a nice trend for the first four years of the blog.  Sadly, unless this blog suddenly becomes major reading material for a university course or gains cult following in a country the size of Malta, this trend will not continue this year.

There are many good reasons for last year’s success. The main one, I believe, is that I traveled abroad twice to Asia on cycling trips with Exodus Travels.  My writing about the preparations for the trips and the trips themselves in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand proved very popular and garnered a large number of views.  To this day, people still come across these posts and photos weekly.  Those trips were great for me and hopefully serve as inspiration for others.  Hopefully, next year will see me take at least another trip and have a chance to write about that.

In addition to that, I wrote a couple of good non-travel posts. Maybe more importantly, I chose some good tags that have managed to snag a few more views.

While this year won’t double the number of page views, I know that I will surpass last year’s number. Why am I so confident?  Well, because it has already happened.   Earlier today, I equalled and passed last year’s totals.

I feel pretty good about this and officially nominate it as Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, blog, blogging, blogposts, cycling, Exodus Travels, hard work, photography, success, travel, travel writing, Wordpress, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Korean Lunch

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I feel as though I am losing my chopsticks skill. If you looked at the picture, you have probably already realized that I am not talking about those piano skills that too many of us claim to have. I am talking about the ability to move tiny bits of food to your mouth using either metal or wood sticks.

Years ago, when I lived in Japan (and for years after I came back) chopsticks were my go to implements for food consumption.  I felt confident enough to eat scrambled eggs with them.  I ate salad with them.  I even ate a fish and picked around the bones (note: I have never eaten a muffin or ice cream cone with them–which my students do).

Today’s lunch was a fantastic Korean dish had at a restaurant just south of Yonge and Bloor called Oja. The restaurant was rather tiny, but that only enhanced the atmosphere.  There were quite a number of items on the menu that I wanted to eat, but I settled on this one.  I certainly didn’t disappoint myself.

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Choosing food as Today’s Perfect Moment seems like a safe bet, but you might want to reconsider.  Meals can turn out badly and a delicious lunch could easily be overshadowed by an even more delicious dinner.

Sadly, that perfect moment was interrupted by boarding the subway home in what shouldn’t have been rush hour. Uncomfortable is not a word I like to throw around much, but that’s what it was.

Posted in appreciation, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, Bloor, comfort food, ethnic food, food, food shopping, happiness, Korea, Korean, restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sleeps Like an Angel

While speaking to a friend today, she remarked that I find a lot of interesting characters on the bus. She takes the same bus but has neither seen the people I have written about nor has she witnessed similarly “inspiring” characters.  She asked whether this was because of my incredible powers of observation or just my luck.  My natural defence mechanism would tell me to just say that I happened to be on the bus when these people showed up and not because I am a particularly good observer.  Of course, looking for things to write about for this blog might in fact be making me a better observer.

Now I am on the fence. What do you think?

As for this post, the commute home has once again produced Today’s Perfect Moment.

Leaving work a bit later than I could have put me into the start of rush hour. I wasn’t really looking forward to the commute…but these days I rarely am.  The only plus would be that I might get home before the sun went down.

I boarded the bus and headed right to a seat. Surprisingly a young lady took the seat next to mine.  Usually the bus has to fill up before someone sits next to me–and being unkind (the commute takes some of my sympathy and kindness away) someone can be a very generous term.

As usually I digress. A young woman took the seat next to me and proceeded to entertain herself using her phone.  I alternately buried myself in a book (Jim Butcher’s Brief Cases) and gazed out the window at the rain soaked autumn.  We didn’t speak, but we made eye contact a couple of times and either nodded or weakly grinned at each other.  I noticed that her nails were done in lovely black with sparkles type design.  She was dressed in all dark colours with the exception of her Jansports knapsack, which was a brilliant turquoise.

The bus was full, but there weren’t too many characters besides the guy trying to man-spread himself into two seats. That would have worked on a less crowded bus, but nobody was having that today.  There were a few people carrying large objects, but since these were bundle buggies or musical instruments rather than say ….juke boxes, or IKEA lamps, or aquariums, …nothing registered.

Both I an the young lady happened to fall asleep on the commute. I for a brief minute or two.  I welcome these little naps and wish I could replicate them on the airplane during my long 15 hour journeys.  There is something so wonderful, and at the same time, so disturbing about falling asleep on a moving vehicle.

My sleep was a few minutes….maybe a stop or two. I looked over at my seat companion and she was comfortably asleep.  She had turned sideways and comfortably rested her head against the seat facing me and was fast asleep.  Her face, framed by magnificent eyebrows, took on an angelic quality.  I wondered if her parents looked upon her like this sleeping as a child on the sofa.

I sat there wondering how it was possible to sleep this way on a crowded, noisy, bumpy, and sometimes smelly bus. Obviously, it could be done.  The proof was staring me in the face.  Usually when I slept on the bus it was head nodded down, swaying from side to side and occasionally cutting off my oxygen only to be jolted awake when the bus hit a bump.

As my stop approached, I needed to wake her to past her slumping form and into the aisle. It required a bit of extra tapping on the shoulder to make this happen.  However, she finally awoke and bolted up with the aid of the pole for standing riders.  When I exited the seat, she promptly took mine and curled back into her sleeping position.  I have no doubt that she was once again fast asleep before the bus doors even closed, let alone before the bus started moving off.

Posted in adapting, adversity, airplanes, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bus, commuting, sleep, Viva, York Region, YRT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Library Haul

I took too many books and things from the library

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It is kind of a weird way to begin a post and as I sit here and type this, I am not exactly sure how it qualifies as Today’s Perfect Moment. I just know it does.  I know it because there is a little voice inside my head telling me that it is so.  It’s the same. slightly mischievous, voice that tells me it’s okay to eat chocolate cake at midnight.  I have to listen to it because it isn’t the same voice that tells me which grocery lane to pick, or which woman to ask out on a date–that voice is a compulsive liar.

So, since I am stuck with this as Today’s Perfect Moment we should analyze the case. It’s only fair and might shed some light on it.

There must have been lots of books at the library

Having chosen so many books might mean that the library is fully stocked and like my appetite at an all-you-can-eat buffet, I couldn’t just take one. An interesting argument, but I am not sure it holds water.  Lately, I have been taking big risks on books and not really being satisfied.  That is why, in addition to pilfering the “new” section, I also dipped back into solid standbys Connelly and Butcher.

Too many rather than too few

I can get behind this argument. I can always take back the ones I didn’t read–which is how I ended up at the library today in the first place.  I had taken out and renewed (because I didn’t read them fast enough) five books.  I only managed to read 2 and a half of them (I am talking to you Fitzgerald) and decided to give up on the rest for now.

The library is pretty modern and allows me to renew the books from the comfort of my own digital screen. As long as nobody wants the books or magazines, I can hold onto them for a  few more renewal cycles.

How hard can it be to pick out a book? How much escapism is really needed on a commute anyway?  What could you possibly be looking at besides your book?

This is also a pretty fair argument. I’ve seen the scenery before and for the next few months it isn’t going to get any brighter.  There are lots of street lights but nothing like the neon exuberance of the far east to shake me out of the doldrums.

The book does have to compete with my MP3 player and the music on it (Crash Vegas, The Velvet Underground, The Tragically Hip, Constance Amiot, and others). It also has to fight for time versus some logic puzzles and my bus crush.  And, these days, it has to contend with the attention seeking and rather loud people on my bus–I though pot was suppose to chill these people out not create more exuberance.

You must have wanted exercise carting the pile of stuff

Well, it wasn’t hernia inducing, but I wasn’t sure that the bag would actually hold it all. I had to tie it up and use the seatbelt to secure it.  The only thing that might make this true is that I took out a book on kettlebell weights.  I suppose a bag full of books in a slight approximation.

You might have been trying to impress one of the librarians

Well, this argument doesn’t hold any water. While there are some wonderful people working at the Aurora library, checkout is done by automated machines.  The librarians don’t even see what I am carting off.

Your reaction is total compensation for indecisiveness

Can’t really argue against this one either. But this is probably an argument similar to the rather have too many than too few. I admit I was in a rush, but I don’t think I spent too little time there.

Well, there you have it. What I could ask you to do is recommend some books for me.  What I am looking for can be summed up in the following.

  • SF like Harlan Ellison or William Gibson
  • Detective novels like Ian Rankin, Connelly, Block, Parker, Mankell
  • Modern day dramas like Lisa Jewell
  • Slices of life like Swift, Irving
  • Humour like Bryson
  • Travel like Theroux and Bryson
  • Whatever you call it like Vonnegut
  • Something like Larson (and don’t get me started on those sequels)

I look forward to your recommendations.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, books, commuting, haul, hobbies, hobby, librarian, library, reading, recommendations, review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Underfoot

Rain only hastens the falling of the leaves from the trees. The drops of water strip the trees bare, leaving only bloody leaf pools.

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Grim though it may be, I instead think of the leaves as nature’s brilliant carpet underfoot.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, autumn, blog, blogging, blogposts, fall colours, growing your blog, increasing blog traffic, photography, rain, seasons, weather, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Door to the Pumpkin Patch

Commuting is like watching a TV show you’ve seen before. Knowing what’s coming means you let parts of it wash over you.  Essentially you ignore swaths and remark on the highlights.  Things are more conspicuous by their absence than by their presence.

Today, on what felt like the millionth day of my commute, with grey skies that didn’t merely threaten rain, I saw something different.

I was deep into my commute and still no one had taken the seat next to mine. When the bus came to a stop, I glanced out the opened door, not planning to remark on anything.  However, on the lawn in front of a real estate agency that had converted an old house rather than move into an actual office building, there were more than two dozen pumpkins spread about, as if it were a pumpkin patch.

Obviously, yesterday was Halloween, but somehow it still struck me as different. Maybe it was the bright orange.  Maybe it was the sheer number of pumpkins–I mean, usually when the boss says decorate most people opt for one or two pumpkins and maybe some streamers.  This seems like someone when above and beyond.  Maybe it was because the pumpkins seemed to survive the occasion intact. I would have expected rowdy teens and pre-teens would have smashed them in an immature attempt to be cool–kids these days consider clashing iphone cases as a form of rebellion.

It was quite the site to see and that is why it is Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, celebration, commuting, Halloween, Viva, YRT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Bouquet

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I can’t recall the last time I saw someone taking flowers to someone. It probably isn’t rare, but I just never see it.  I know there is a flower shop or flower corner at the grocery store, but I have only seen people buying potted poinsettias at Christmas time.  Do people still send flowers?  Do people want flowers as a gift?  Had flowers become passé? And if so, when did that happen?
When I lived in Japan, flowers were often taken when invited to a person’s house.  Nobody wanted to show up empty handed, and flowers were considered a good gift because it wouldn’t clash with anything the host had prepared food-wise and drink-wise.  Additionally, florists in Japan did a good job of arranging nice bouquets inexpensively.

These thoughts and many others raced around my head as an older woman entered the bus clutching the bouquet you see above. After talking with her, she allowed me to take a photo of them, though she was adamant that she not be in the picture.  She explained that she was taking them, and a gift that was dangling in a bag in her other hand, to her friend at the nursing home.

What a lovely friend. What a Perfect Moment.

Posted in aging, appreciation, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, authentic, bus, commuting, flowers, friends, friendship, gifts, presents, Viva, YRT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Novel Way to Catch Some Shuteye

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If you sit in the teacher’s room, you might think that the students’ goals, besides learning, are to frustrate and confuse the teacher. The truth is, more often than not, I really think they are trying to entertain me.

If you’ve read this blog for some time, you have probably read about my students and there strange ways to eat kit kats (here and here), or more recently the use of chopsticks to eat a muffin. However, that is only a smidgen (never thought I would use that word in a blog post) of the entertainment that I often get.

It is only the rarest of students who manages to fall asleep during class–and usually they manage to do it repeatedly. The excuse is often something to do with all-night partying or all-night online sessions with friends back home or all-night binge watching some program on Netflix.  I’ve always been good at shrugging, and this has only given me greater practice.

While a student falling asleep during class is rare, during break time, a scant 15 minutes at that, it is practically a sport. I don’t know how many times I have come back from my 15 minutes (travel time up several flights of stairs and a bathroom break included in that paltry quarter of an hour) to find students heads on desks or reclining across several chair, eyes closed and in dreamland.

For today’s perfect moment, I wanted to share a picture I took on Friday of one student’s novel approach to shutting out the world while catching a few zzz’s. In case it isn’t clear, the coat is on backwards and the hood is covering the face.  I alone, and none of the other students, was concerned about a possible suffocation risk.  All I got were classic eye rolls when I mentioned it.

I wonder if this student tried that on the airplane while traveling to Canada.

Posted in adversity, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, characters, class, confrontation, entertainment, ESL, netflix, sleep, students, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments