Monday, 30 January 2012

People of the Dog Park

Sam, our 8 month old black Labrador Retriever, is doing very well. 

He’s a good dog, and a mellow puppy, as it turns out. Gracie is still not thrilled with him and barks a lot about it. 

I have a kerchief AND a bow!

Maybe she needs her own blog where she can vent about things that bug her. Maybe I’ll set it up for her. It could be called “Everything is Awful and I have to Scream Contstantly. Give Me a Cookie. Um... No, Put Peanut Butter On It First”. 

Ah poor Gracie. I complain about her a lot, but she’s just doing what Shelites do: be awful. I do love her, in my fashion. She’s getting on and is a bit stiff legged, so she doesn’t get a second long walk in the afternoons as does our heavy duty digbat, Sam. Our blessed dog walker Nina, owner of Boardwalkers, takes the dogs in the morning so I can get things done, but the afternoon shift is mine.
I take Sam down to the beach and although standing in cold sand/snow while ice pellets blast horizontally into your face sounds glamourous, it’s not quite as awesome as it sounds.

Off Leash Dog Area. Super cold and icy blasty.

Luckily, there are sometimes people there that help you pass the time, and they have dogs that help Sam burn off steam and kibble. Everyone is cold and some of them have to pee and some of them have busy busy lives. But they are all there because they are doing right by their dogs, and giving them a chance to have unfettered play time, a luxury, I know, for many.
There are, of course, going to be a few people who are just a pain in the ass. Either their dogs are precious prima donnas who will turn to dust if Sam so much touches them with his paw, while others seem to think it’s “just playing around” when their dog is drawing blood from Sam’s ear. And not in a good way, I mean. People are people. I get it.  But dogs are neither fragile lilies or armored tanks: Unless they are.

Did I see that outfit at Anthropologie? 

And then there are the folks who really want to give you helpful advice on how to raise your dog. This can be a good thing or a super annoying thing, and it depends entirely on how it is delivered. People who talk like they are experts on all dogs - well, unless they are Caesar Milan, I roll my eyes in their general direction. Helpful tips are great. Know it alls are tedious. 

For the most part, people are pretty friendly, understanding and casual. I like that. And I’ve met some people who I look forward to seeing, even though, to be honest, I have no idea what their names might be. Our conversations are usually pretty basic: dogs, the weather, other people’s dogs. But sometimes you just spill your guts. You have NO idea why you just told a basically complete stranger your deepest feelings on a subject, but you feel better afterward. It’s the same with bartenders, hairdressers and the internet. Some people/venues are just beacons calling to hear your dirt.
I’ve been on both receiving and emitting (emoting) sides of the “dog park feelings purge”. Maybe it’s a false trust nurtured by the consistency of seeing someone every day: they’re always there for you. Maybe it’s the anonymity that conveys a sense of safety. Or maybe you’re just so damned cold that all the blood has left the discretion part of your brain in an attempt to keep your hands warm, and you just can’t stop talking.
I’ve met some good friends through walking Gracie: Sarah and her dog, Emma, being the prime example. 
Emma. Part Shepherd, part pretty.

And Robert and his dog Rufus. We miss you Rufus!

 Met Robert in the dog park the day that I’d asked my then boyfriend to move out. Robert gave me some boxes to help get the ball rolling. I would be married to Robert now if I hadn’t met Brian two years later. Plus, Robert likes guys and stuff. 

Another gal I got to know through walking Gracie was Liana, who I don’t see since I moved out of my condo. Her dog, Tatchi, was the only dog Gracie would ever play with.
Yes, there was a time when Gracie would actually play.

There are many other nice folks. I guess having a dog is kinda like carrying a sign that says:

It’s hard to be anti social with a Labrador Retriever at your side.
When I go down to the off leash dog park with Sam in the afternoons there are a few people I glom onto. Sam plays well with their dogs. 

Sam, Rosie and Ruckus. Up to NO good.

Sam and Yetta the Dane.

And they are good company. There’s Andrew and Wendy the dog walkers from Paws In Motion. Good, good people. Don’t know their last names. Always happy to see them. Sam loves their boxer client, Bully.

Bully and Sam

 A little too much, maybe?

 There’s the girl who’s dog is named Baylin or something like that. She’s very sweet. 


The guy who lived in Sweden for 3 years who is a great story teller and you just KNOW he’s only telling you the least shameful stuff. The socially adept teacher with the dog named Peaches, who can make conversation with ease, with anyone (I love people like this). The portrait artist who, like me, prefers cats (www/ 
The people of the dog park makes tolerable standing in gale force winds while your dog grinds sand and mud into his fur. So People Of The Dog Park, I salute you. Thanks for letting my dog drag your dog around by the face. I really appreciate it.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Foodie Friday: Coffee. How Do I Love Thee?

I love coffee. Coffee is the first thing I think about in the morning, and the last thing I think about before I sleep. Brian knows not to ask me to choose between him and coffee. Although the lack of either would make me very sad, going without coffee makes me physically ill, while going without Brian would just make me feel bored. And I’d rather be bored than be heaving into the toilet with a migraine. 
I guess I could wean myself from my coffee addiction, and it is an addiction. I don’t think it’s necessarily cool to be addicted to coffee. But so far it has not impeded my ability to function in society or go about my daily activities. And I don’t have to rob a convenience store in order to buy my drug. Although I would, if it came right down to it.

I recently got this Bodum. 

Yes. It is gold. I had originally just gone in to get a replacement carafe, but.... it's gold.... and shiny. And Good God What Was I Supposed to DO? JUST WALK AWAY? 

I think there are three kinds of ways one can consume coffee. One can have a coffee; one can go for a coffee; one can take coffee.
Having a coffee is something you do at 6 am when you have to get ready to face the working day. You have a coffee in a meeting. You have a coffee while you walk on your way to the office or while driving your kid to hockey practice. Having a coffee is utilitarian: get this into my bloodstream asap so I do not scream at anyone. Communication is optional, and is usually carried on in grunts and gesturing.
Venues: Car, board room, kitchen, Tim Horton’s.


Going for coffee is something you do with Sarah or Ryan. You go to a place and you sit and you have a coffee that probably costs more than it should, but it doesn’t matter, because you are really also renting a chair in the cafe/restaurant as well, so it’s part of the deal. You go for a coffee when you will be visiting with your friend and talking about issues such as their fabulous recent weight loss, your unfabulous recent weight gain, celebrities, your out of control spending habits, Pinterest, their child’s antics, your husbands’ antics, how much you hate your dogs at the moment, food, fake nails, what the hell is it with Megan, and future craft night get togethers. Going for a coffee can involve lattes, with or without “art”. Muffins, scones, biscotti and chocolates are de rigour

I love muffins so much

Venues: Starbuck’s (and the like), fancier espresso joints a la Bulldog, Darkhorse, Jet Fuel.


Bulldog Cafe

Taking coffee is a much more refined affair. You can still take coffee with a friend, but that friend had better have cleaned up a bit. You too, Elpoo.

You take a coffee at a fancy hotel, or salon of some sort. You should probably wear a hat if you’re a lady, and a tie if you are a gentleman. 

Cafe Einstein, Berlin

Demel Cafe, Vienna

Hotel Sacher, Vienna

Sacher Torte, originated from Hotel Sacher in Vienna

Vienna coffee house

Austria, France and Eastern Europe are the best places to take coffee, although you could probably do well in Italy, although Italians more laid back elegance. Taking coffee requires a certain element of uptight elegance.
Savoy, Milan

Gran Caffe Quadri, Venice
Topics of conversation include hiring home decorators, general politics (nothing to weighty); acquaintances who are having sex affairs; hair dressers; your upcoming holiday in Italy (unless for some reason you are already in Italy and you will talk about your upcoming holiday in “America”);
 Coffee. Cream. Sugar cubes. And pastries. 
There are no lattes. No foamy designs. No muffins.
Coffee shops in The Netherlands do not count. Sorry Marcel.
There is no hierarchy of coffee. Certain times call for specific manners of consumption of God’s Bean. And sometimes, you’re just desperate, so you’ll go to Tim Horton’s. 
However you enjoy your coffee, I hope you do so in good company, as I am fortunate enough to do on many occasions. Go ahead. Have the muffin.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How I Tolerate Sports

If you are like me, you don’t give a rat’s ass about sports. It’s complicated, competitive, and there’s always some guy being an idiot. Even in women’s sports, there’s always some guy being an idiot.
With the possible exception of pairs figure skating, I have no interest in watching sports. But my best beloved is freaking obsessed with sports. He likes all sports. Except for golf and figure skating. And he’s a little mystified by cricket, but will watch it in a pinch. He has a few favourite teams, and of course, as a Toronto resident, he is required to be a Leafs fan and at least condescend to watch the occasional Raptors game. Summers are all about the Blue Jays.

Baseball is very dull.

Brian and I have been together just 6 years and married less than one, so I imagine the bloom is still on our rose. Therefore, I still feel like I have to find some way to pretend to care about sports.  When we first started dating, I would tell my friends that it was so “neat” to date a guy who was into sports. “He likes football!”, I would squeal like I was telling people he was an actuary, or a show dog or had a permanent friends and family discount at WIlliams Sonoma. Back then, for me, dating a sports fan was kind of exotic. 
We watch sports on TV almost every night after dinner. Oh hurray! 
 I’ve come up with a couple tricks to make watching sports tolerable.

-Get a stop watch and time how long husband goes between yelling “Shoot/score/throw you idiot”. In my case, if we are watching any Toronto team, this time is very short.

-Allow myself at least one indignant comment about the cheerleaders. 

-Cheer for the team with the best uniforms. This is difficult because the Boston Bruins have the best uniforms, but they also have Chara, and I don’t like Chara because he’s a meanie.

-Find one sexy player per game to cheer for. I have done this for all of my husband’s favourite teams. And for some teams that he doesn’t like.

le sigh


Ok ok, I'll stop with the land mines, But you have to take me out to dinner.

cutie patooty. Not sure he'd want to be called that.


-Make a game out of enraging husband by cheering for the team that has a Manning. Included in this is to look hurt every time husband calls Payton or Eli Manning a goof.  Take it personally. Withhold sex til he says “I love the Mannings”. This could backfire on you. (Ok, just this second he yelled “Kill him! He’s a Manning” at the TV. This is not a lie. It goes on ALL NIGHT).

Refuse to watch games with teams playing that have rapists or dog abusers on their roster. If you must be in the same room while the game with the rapists or dog abusers are playing talk about what douchebags they are NON STOP.

right back atcha, Vick.

Have theme songs or Catch Phrases for different players:

For Alexi Ponikarovsky:

I just can’t get Phaneuf (sung to the tune of Just Can’t Get Enough)

 Whenever the play by play announcer says that “Kessel is on the half boards” you sing this:

Every time the play by play guy says anything about Ferdenand Pisani, you have to yell, “Ha Ha The Googly Eyed Pisani!” 

I'm so tired right now, but my goggly eyes make me look wide awake.

 Jose Calderone must be made to say “I like to play with my friends this game”.
I just ate a lemon. I don't know why I ate a lemon. It was not so nice.

-Act impressed everytime husband tells you how he knows what a balk in baseball is. Resist temptation to tell him “ I know what an onion is”.

-Binge eat.

-If you are lucky enough to be forced to watch every Leafs game this season, count how many times the arena plays “Oh Black Betty” between plays. That number is the number in hundreds of dollars that your husband must give to you.

I hope that these ideas work for you. The alternative is to do your needlepoint/knitting/quilting/crack/blogging/dog grooming in another room. But then he'd win. And that's not sporting.

PS: In the space of 3 hours, Brian yelled “Kill him, Kill him, he’s a Manning”, three times. Three.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Bad Things That Could Potentially Happen To Me.

After years of being on the road and playing the same songs over and over, I hate to have to admit it to you, but sometimes, you know, you just kinda go on auto pilot. While you are having a fabulous retro moment swaying back and forth to Mmm Mmm Mmm thinking “I was 2 years old when this song came out”, I’m thinking “I wonder if they have free breakfast at the hotel” or “Will I be able to blame this fart on Dan”, or, most often, “Hmm, wonder what kinds of freak accidents could befall me while doing regular mundane activities.
I thought about that last one a lot. I still do. It’s part of what makes me, “Me”. So very imaginative, neurotic, and unlikely to sky dive.
I have thought about these potential calamities, frequently, and although none of them have ever occurred (knock injection molded plastic) they still might happen. And when they do, I will be able to say “I told you so”. But you might not be able to make out what I’m saying though my full body cast and morphine induced slobber slur.

Here are some of the things I worry about:

Other top real or imagined threats are quicksand, sink holes, having a spider lay eggs under my skin, getting a perm, norovirus, ingrown toenails and ruptured ovarian cysts.

I’m a frightened woman.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Foodie Friday - St. Lawrence Market

If beautifully photographed cookbooks can be called “food porn”, then St. Lawrence Market in Toronto is the Red Light District”. And I am a total whore.

Many people have blogged and photographed St. Lawrence Market and have extolled its great virtues and whatnot. And they have their own website.

But you're here now, and if you are like me, you're too lazy to keep looking, so here you go. 

I love grocery shopping, and I love grocery shopping without a list. This is an amazing place to go if you want to get stuff that you think at the moment is awesome,

 but will likely moulder in your pantry because you have no bloody idea what to do with amchur powder.

When it was warmer out I liked to hop on my lady bike and head over to the market to get fabulous fruits and vegetables,

 and big dog bones for the dogs who are ungrateful little buggers but I love them in my fashion.

they don't deserve my kindnesses, my dogs.

I have to be careful in the bulk food section because I will buy too much of what I need and top it off with a bunch of tiny bags full of mysteries that I don’t need. It’s just like... it’s all there... and I can’t stop... and it’s shiny.... and the aisles are so narrow.... and I feel pressured....

ssssssaaaaaaaaallllllltttttyAdd caption

pistachios that at first glance look like teeming maggots maybe. Yum.

Mmmmmmmmilk. Yes. I grew up on this. We all did.

You can buy 10 billion kinds of rice there. Not sure if they stock Minute Rice.

Rube's House of Rices

All things ground up and grainy
There is more cheese than even my crafting crew would know what to do with. 

I love cheese. I like eating it, looking at it, thinking about it. Cheese is my muse.

So Much Candy!


Baking Heaven!


Condiments and Pickled things.



crabby legs

Bread! Oh. The bread.

my lunch snack. Bagely goodness.

There is other stuff, too. Like hats and jewelry. 

And the most jam packed kitchen gadgetry nook ever, which has an awesome array of cookie cutters, tea pots and shenanigans.

no room to swing a cat.
gadget mecca

many cookie cutters.

I think I'll go back and get that elephant tea pot. Because without it, I am nothing.
how have I survived this long without all of these things in my kitchen?

Fresh Pasta

Old World style deli fabulousness. I'm talking to YOU Cheryl McKinnon. 

And it’s all housed in a grand old market building. 

You should totally go there.
St. Lawrence Market has a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays that is very cool, but also very crowded. Get there at 4 am to hang out with the city’s chefs and tired farm folk.  There is an antiques market on Sundays. It’s fun to buy crap from there.