Thursday, August 28, 2008


Well, we made it.

In our family, we call it "The Gruel" but we used to go every year. It's the annual family camping trip. We canoe in the backcountry, camping and portaging. One year, I hurt my back and stopped going. Slowly, people started dropping out.

Finally, this year, the trip was resurrected and I was able to go, given assurances that I wouldn't be expected to carry a canoe. But I did have to meet the group part-way through due to a lack of vacation time.

This was MY trip:

7am Leave my parents' house - thankfully, they let me borrow their car, their tent, their water jug, their baja bag, mug, and batteries. I was also able to borrow a pack and sandals from Kendra. Goodness, do I own ANY camping equipment? I bring my own utensil set and underwear, finding that I've been storing all my other sporty clothes at their house anyway.

Takeout breakfast at the Starbucks near Molson Park. Mm. That'll be it for a couple of days. Enjoy it while it lasts. Especially the too-cheerful window service.

Drive past the exit to Highway 60 without noticing. Make it all the way to North Bay before stopping at a gas station to look at the map. Tanking up. Driving back to Huntsville. Take Highway 60. Don't stop at DQ.

12pm Algonquin Outfitters for rentals. Continue on into the park to Rock Lake access point. Unload the car, lock it up, hop in the canoe.

1pm Paddle to Whitefish Lake. With a minor disagreement about which way to go. Oops.

2pm Check out all the campsites on Whitefish: all full except the one facing west. Take it. Set up the tent, thermarest, sleeping bags and wait. And wait. Eat some pepperoni sticks to stave off hunger, remembering that we didn't eat lunch.

4:30pm Finally, the crew arrives. Welcome, introductions, stories. Swimming ensues. I help make dinner: tacos... on a camping trip? Yes. And they are yummy.

9pm Sneak into the forest to the other side where we hear bongo drums and chanting. Laugh quietly in the dark, snooping on someone's camp. We are bad people. Go back so Will and Ian can play glow-in-the-pitch-black frisbee. Fun game until they are so far apart they can't see each other and the frisbee goes in the water.

10pm Bed.

6am Awake with the sun. Stay in bed, pretending to sleep.

9am Get up. No one woke me up! Have instant coffee with real cream (on a camping trip!?) and french vanilla coffee mix. Pretty good. And instant oatmeal.

10am Pack up. Kids from the camp on the other side of the forest swarm our campsite, unexplained. They get water and stick around, talking and laughing loudly and banging a large stick on our picnic table (yes, we had a picnic table there, on a camping trip!). We finally get into our canoes and leave, hating the obnoxious children. I canoe with Matt.

11am Stop at the bridge to Rock Lake narrows. Get out for that much-needed wimp-trip break. I go swimming. Of course the guys decide to jump off the bridge. So of course, we all do it. Except Josee, who is busy taking our photos. I think I swallowed some water. Scary -- the jump and the water swallowing, but nothing untoward results.

12pm? Stop at Rock Lake access point to go to the bathroom and get water from the tap and eat snacks.

1pm Stop at Barclay Estate ruins on Rock Lake for lunch (pepperoni sticks, cheddar, pears, rice crispy squares). Check out the ruins. Back in the canoe, Matt and I get beached on a rock in the middle of the lake while looking at a dog in another canoe.

2pm Portage 375m around a dam and waterfall. Go back and take a look at the falls. Put our feet in the water, jump subsequently further and further between risky, slippery rocks. Well, not all of us. Mostly just Will.

3pm Land on our camp site - beautiful camp site facing south on Pen Lake. Set up tents and blah blah blah. Swimming ensues. Dry out on the warm, flat rocks. Filter water for the next day. Ian fishes. Will and Matt look for firewood. This place even has an outhouse.

5pm I make Kraft Dinner (with no milk or margarine!) and sausages for dinner. It's super yummy and LOTS of it. Almost too much for everyone to eat.

8pm Josee makes white pine needle tea. Yummy new taste sensation. While we sit around the fire and chat.

10pm Bed.

6am Up with the sun. Stay in bed.

9:15am Get up. No one woke me up. Will's alarm had gone off at 7am. He turned it off and woke up at 9. Josee is boiling water for coffee. More instant coffee with french vanilla and cream for me! Gordon pours his and then drops the whole pot. Oops. He goes to get more water. He drops that too.

10am More water is finally ready for oatmeal and coffees.

11am We're all packed up an in our canoes. Today I'm with Ron. We totally win every race. We cross the lake to our big portage of the day: 1680m. Thankfully, it's flat and well maintained. We get to the other side, Night Lake, and play paddles, a game organized by Josee. Yep, wimp trip!

Cross Night Lake in about two seconds and do another 80m portage to Galeairy Lake.

1pm Stop at a basically vertical rock on Galeairy for lunch of cookies, granola bars, and more cookies.

1:30pm Back in the canoes and Ron and I are at the front of the pack, chatting about relationships.

3pm Arrive in Whitney. Some swimming and lollygagging and a trip to the other outfitters.

5pm Dinner at the Mad Musher and some lollygagging. Ian drives us back to Rock Lake, Matt drives our canoe back to the Outfitters. We get in the car, and on the way to the Outfitters, we finally see a moose!

7:30pm Outfitters is closed so we leave our crap there, outside. Continue on to Huntsville where we fill up on gas and DQ and then push on for home.

Not bad for our first couple's camping trip!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yung Sing Pastry Shop

Yung Sing Pastry Shop
Originally uploaded by bribriTO
Mmm mmm.

Mmm, dim sum.

Just got back from the walking club I run at MaRS. Today we walked to Baldwin St. and stopped by the Yung Sing Pastry Shop.

Fun Kak, pork spring roll, curry beef turnover and egg tart. The perfect grease lunch. With wonderful company in gorgeous weather. I love the walking club. It makes me get UP for lunch. Walk. Chat. Explore. Or revisit some of my favourites. Learn new things about the people I work with.

And it gets me some dim sum. What could be better?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The post-vacation trauma

Sleep, Wake Up, POWER!
Originally uploaded by TheCX

I feel like I've been tapping on a computer all day.

Click, type, drag, click, tap. Sigh when the computer isn't fast enough to keep up with my hands. When it appears to have just stopped. Or when it's "thinking about it"... It will all drive me mad.

Then I'm out to teach. Then home, starving, fire up the computer. And since then, it's been bill paying and catching up on the important emails, making appointments and updating my files and more clicking, dragging, typing and crying about how slow my computer is.

That's what happens when you come back from a "vacation" -- are our camping trips ever really a vacation? We challenge ourselves to paddle hard, portage all our crap up and over hills for kilometers over to the next body of water. For what? For the chance to have some peace and quiet on a somewhat emptyish lake?

But it was good. It was worth it.
But now I am tired. My shoulders hurt. My eyes are bloodshot and dry and they want to stop looking at my computer screen.

Press "Sleep" now.

Tomorrow, I'll press "power" again and will upload photos and be all productive and awesome.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Spacing Magazine

Spacing Magazine.

How much do I love thee? You are what I want to be. What I wish I had time to be. What I wish someone paid me to be.

You are my window to Toronto.
I wish I had time to read you more often.

And, today when I read about the Heritage Walks this weekend, how much did I wish I was going to be in the city for the weekend? Instead of camping in the rain? Oh yes, we all know it will rain. And we all know how miserable that will be. And there will be weeping and wailing in the wilderness. Instead of learning about my city, calmly standing under an umbrella.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frugality is sexy

Canadian Penny
Originally uploaded by Martin Ujlaki
It's official: I am totally hip.

The internet tells me that I am have been on the leading edge of the coolest new trend: frugality.

Except that the examples of frugality given in article is for chumps. Amateurs, I say! What about riding your bike to save on public transportation costs? What about giving up on your in-flight meal and bringing your OWN food? What about reusing your Starbucks cup to get the $0.10-discount? Or using the registered Starbucks card to get free syrup in your drink?

What about staking out all the PWYC nights for plays and especially those Shakespeare in the Park options that you can enjoy for super-cheap-to-free?

Turning off the lights and turning down your air con and using air flow to cool the house -- of course these are old-hat for savers like me.

But scouring the flyers for the cheapest groceries and best sales is a new habit I've come to enjoy. Even my house hunting (after selling the house -- closing date, Sept. 30th!) involves not compromising on a price that doesn't involve a stretch in my monthly payments, even though the bank assures me I could afford so much more. Even if it means quite a bit of elbow grease. That's OK, it just means that I'll have more cheap-to-free exercise.

Ah, it's nice to be cool!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Croissants and frangipane

Almond Croissant (1)
Originally uploaded by gnuf
So I met up with some friends, finally, at Frangipane. It is this cute little pastry shop on Dupont at Madison. All you really have to do is look at their website to know that I am salivating as I write this.

Anyway, I had a real craving for an almond croissant. So I got one. Even though I do know that their croissants are supplied by Patachou. But it was just so perfect. It was so crispy on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside. Butter explosions and sweet almond paste. Well, of course I nearly died right there on my chair.

But then my friend told me to try the gruyere tart. Well, of course I will try anything. I like adventure. But I didn't expect THIS. This was... something. Imagine, this cheese with an egg and custard filling as well as caramelized onions, fresh herbs and proscuitto. Even then, you can't imagine it really. Add some nutmeg and you're starting to get the idea. It was magic. Totally unexpected and lovely.

Oh, and should you think that I'm not in love with food enough, you should know that I fully expect to go to DQ for a Blizzard on Thursday, which is Miracle Treat Day. You should too. I mean, think of the children!


my new haircutAfter a YEAR of not cutting my hair, I have a new haircut. And it's actually a new cut, because I don't think I've had this style before.

It all started when I went to my boyfriend's family's house for his birthday (see previous post). His sister cuts hair. She is a "Hair Stylist." And, as I said, I hadn't had my hair cut in a year.

It wasn't that I particularly liked my hair. No, in fact I pretty much hated my hair and was pretty aware of the need for the cut. But there was the problem of finding someone to do it. I've been looking around. I tried a couple of people in 2007. I didn't really like them much. I even, however, went so far as to call a salon. But they didn't answer the phone. And I don't think I left them a message as I knew I'd be too busy to deal with it when they did call me back.

Excuses, I know.

But I figured I had to give it a shot. I was a bit nervous, mostly excited. So I wet my hair. I sat in the high twirly chair in her kitchen. She got out the tools. I showed her a couple of pics I'd seen in a magazine that had elements of hair styles that were OK.

And then she snipped. And cut and razored and tossed some strands about and snip, snip, snip... pull, style, twirl. Done.

I got up and looked at myself in the mirror.

"I'm so cute!" I yelled.

Really. I am SO happy! She did a totally fantastic job! My hair is cute.

And Gordon liked it. He said something pretty typically (for him) inappropriate (something to the effect of "Wow that's way better than the crappy hair you had before" -- minus the word "crappy") but he liked it a lot too.

So today was my first day of styling it myself. And it's not quite as good as when SHE did it, but it'll take some practice. But it's fine. And people are still stopping me to tell me that my new short hair is cute, which is nice. (But you know, what are they going to say, really? "Did you cut your hair? Ya? Oh. Huh." Really, they have to say it looks nice.)

OK, I have another picture of my haircut. If you're on Facebook, you've already seen it. But you can see it on my website in my Facebook widget as well, off to the right there. Here's a larger version.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Go Gordo, it's your birthday

It's Gordon's birthday this weekend. I've never mentioned him on my blog before. Not by name, anyway. But I thought it was time.

And so I also created him a profile on my website, so that other people who are poking around in my life can find out more about him. So check it out.

You'll find he's pretty cute. Maybe not as cute as my niece. But still, pretty cute as far as tall men with a Masters degree go, I guess. And I quite like him. OK, a lot. He makes me happy. Notice the happy smile in the photo? It's not fake.

And so I want to make sure his birthday is a happy one.
Happy Birthday to Gordon!