Friday, 26 June 2009

They're just lyin' around...

My daughter and I went to the Metro Toronto Zoo on Monday because she wanted to photograph the animals. She needed images for her animation research.

It was hot. Oh, God it was sooo hot. We strolled leisurely along concrete paths emblazoned with multicoloured footprints, reading signs that led us to Eurasia, Africa and The Americas. The pavilions were hotter than outdoors, even if they protected us from the blazing sun. I welcomed the breeze kicked up by passing exotic birds and butterflies. I blinked stinging sweat from my eyes in order to focus on the wildlife. I felt a layer of grease on my face, convinced that the other patrons noticed. I asked a lady how she could look so cool, and she assured me she was melting, too.

Outdoors, we stuck to the shade and sipped from our water bottles which were becoming warmer by the minute. I mentally tracked several beads of sweat rolling between my shoulder blades and past my waistband. I know, I know... too much information.

In the African Savannah, I noticed my personal mecca, a group of umbrellas emblazoned with Molson Canadian logos. Beer! Cold, frosty, bubbly beer! We trudged up the hill and ordered two fries, and I secured a table for us under a canopy. I approached the lad mopping the bar and asked where the beer was, peering hopefully at the frosted glass on the tall refrigerator.

He said, "Sorry, no beer. They're not serving today." He gestured helpfully at the canteen where we had obtained the six dollar French fries. "They have Sprite and such there."

Really. Really? Seriously? The first day of summer and it's a hundred and twenty degrees in the shade, and they don't have freakin' beer?

Sigh. We sat and gobbled our fries, and powered through to the end.

Most of the animals were asleep in the shade. The only active ones seemed to be the fish. I petted a snake and watched a giraffe use his tongue like a snake to grab a banana from a keeper.

If anything, I walked off the fries.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


I've been meaning to write a novel based on the beautiful sport of polo. Last week, as I was tootling along Leslie Road, I noticed a broken cedar rail along the roadside. My imagination took hold, wondering what I would do if a horse got loose, wandering along the country roadside. Would I stop and capture it? What would I use as a lead? My belt? Would the horse shy, nervous because of the passing cars along this country road?

I think I found the opening to my next novel. Of course, this will be after I finish the two languishing on my hard drive at the moment.

Today my daughter and I attended the 30th Annual Polo For Heart tournament in nearby Gormley. The Sifton family owns the farm and club, along with a local airport. Since I started at the newspaper, I've attended every competition that wasn't rained out, either as a corporate guest or as one of the hundreds of General Admission picnickers on the north side of the pitch.
This time we went corporate and dressed accordingly. The secret is to wear a wide brim hat and sunglasses in order to look mysterious, a cotton dress cool enough so you don't sweat, and heels wide enough not to sink into the soft turf.

There was no competition today due to the heavy rains yesterday, but we enjoyed demonstrations, good food and bright sunshine. For some reason the volunteer staff kept replacing my empty wine glass with a full one, much to the chagrin of my teetotalling daughter.

The food was to die for. They kept the dishes warm by perching searing cast iron frying pans on hot bricks -- chicken, steak, seafood, and also had a variety of salads. I'm proud to say I consumed my daily minimum of fruits and vegetables (fermented grapes included).

The Silent Auction featured many items beyond my reach, including a trip to the Antarctic and several NHL signed sweaters and pictures. Beth loved the dragon cane with hidden sword, and I liked the replica Spartan spear and shield a la 300. The Mick Jagger guitar wasn't half bad, either.

A lady approached me to bring my attention to a prominent former editor sitting at the next table, suggesting I should confront him regarding his publication of a book 'outing' a former Prime Minister. I responded that although I worked for the newspaper, I wasn't a journalist. I eyed the gentleman in question, wondering what he had done that was so wrong. I have his autobiography somewhere in the house... I guess I should read it.

Tomorrow I have the day off. Off to the Zoo!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Catching Up

Hi, Gang...

First of all, thanks for the many birthday greetings and good wishes. I know a few of you have passed the half century mark in the last couple of years and I don't know if you all experienced the same lack of impact. We approach these milestones with apprehension and anticipation, and it passes just like another day. We feel and look the same, except for that tiny part of ourselves that says, "Hey, you're fifty." I guess that's a good thing, right?

There was no big party (except for some kick-ass flamingos) but a bunch of us at work are turning 50 this year so we plan to go out for a super lunch or dinner just for fun. My dear husband hit his milestone in March, and he will go with his buddies for a little male bonding camp-out in August, so he's covered.

I went shopping with my birthday booty. My prize is a super cute little netbook from HP. It weighs only 2 pounds and I can surf, check email, write and read e-books on it. It fits in my little canvas purse and I still have room for my compact, lipstick and wallet.

I've been looking at e-readers, but I think this is a great alternative. It's more versatile, I can print from it and it has wireless internet. I can take notes and work on my manuscripts (note to self: work on your manuscripts).

My schedule changed at the newspaper and I now work some evenings. I've also been occupied with a major clean up and purge in our little bungalow. I'm happy to report that we now hear a distinct echo when we walk through some rooms. The lack of clutter is soooo refreshing. I highly recommend the hiring of a Dumpster.

All this recent activity impacted my blogging and cyber-visiting time, so don't feel neglected if I haven't dropped in for a while. I'm sure things will settle down soon and I'll get back into a new routine. I should also get back to writing. Those two half-finished MS's won't finish themselves!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Happy Conan Day! Also, Happy Birthday Mom...

That's what it says on my cake. My kids were more excited about Conan O'Brien's debut on The Tonight Show than their mother's Half Century, so I let my daughter decorate the cake for his Big Day. If you look carefully, you can see a little scrap of parchment in the lower left corner with the words (Happy B-Day, Mom).

I had a good day. I caught a glimpse of colour through the living room curtains while preparing to drive my son to school. It was a flock of fifty pink flamingos, courtesy of my neighbour and BFF Carol. She phone later and played the innocent, but I knew it was her.

Throughout the morning, emails and Facebook messages started slowly, growing from a drip to a steady trickle. Thank you all for your cheerful messages. When I got to work at 2pm, my desk was decorated by the Classified Department with lots of glittery 50's. My Production co-workers nearly gave me a heart attack at around 4pm. A dozen strong, they sneaked up behind me, shouting Happy Birthday. Graham approached brandishing a fire extinguisher for the (not fifty) candles.

I worked until ten, and arrived home in time to wolf down two slices of cold pizza and take a call from my brother-in-law, then blow out the candles.

We stayed up long enough to watch Conan's debut, and now I'm finally winding down. Thanks everyone for the great emails, Facebook messages and blog shout-outs. Aerin, I wasn't able to comment on your blog - sometimes Blogger hates me, but thanks for mentioning me!

And now, for a shameless plea to help me win an e-reader! Champagne Books, my publisher for Bad Ice, is conducting a contest for their authors. The author who sells the most copies of their titles (today through August 31) wins an EBookwise E-Reader. I've never owned an e-reader and I think it would be keen to have one. Tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on....

Chumplet out.