Monday, June 29, 2009

great Canadian adventure redux

Here I am, sitting in the Crow's Nest B&B in Saint Anthony, in the northern tip of Newfoundland... and I have no idea where to begin!

A some famous person said, the best thing to do is start in the beginning.

The VIA was late - as usual - by three hours. The Ocean train cars were not nearly as comfortable as the Canadian cars out west, more like plane seats and not a reclining foot kick in sight. That was a rough 32 hours. What didn't help? The ugly parenting we saw that turned two perfectly well-behaved kids into sugared-up brats. We were happy it was over. (Side note: Montreal train station? boring. Winnipeg is still the front-runner for the most impressive train station in the country.)
- Dave at the car rental place informed us that we would be upgraded for free to a slightly bigger car. Imagine our surprise when he picked us up in a Lexus!
- The drive to Sydney was a little like the beginning of a horror-movie... or at least like an X-files episode. The minute I voiced this, of course, Foo Fighters' Down In The Park came on (thanks a lot XFM!). The hotel, when we got there, was quite cute and I enjoyed a very very long shower.

Next morning, we made it out to Louisburg and I checked off one of my life goals. I did not want to leave and we, sadly, did not leave enough time to explore (again, as usual). I believe I will have to return to do a proper Cabot trail trip and and a return trip to Louisburg.
- We ate at the Fortress View Restaurant: while I expect more from a Maritime Lobster Roll, the "popcorn" fish and chips were delish. Yum!
- We boarded our ferry to NFLD and it was super-fancy: two restaurants (buffet and a-la-carte), a bar, a casino and a swank lounge. No wonder we paid so much money for this crossing! It's nothing like the BC Ferries at all.
- The ferry was an hour or so late - we've realised that if we want to be on time we will be late. That's apparently the new rule.
- The drive to Cape Anguille Lighthouse Inn was really creepy - we learned very quickly that almost nothing outside a National Park is properly labelled in this province.
- Sleep.

I woke up to a most spectacular view! Nothing but water and cliff. Nish and I were the only ones around for miles - miles! Not even the B&B people were there. We thought very hard about never leaving, but left anyway, starting our eight hour trek to Saint Anthony's. We made two major pit-stops:
- The Arches: huge rocks are being carved out by the water, creating arches that you can walk through to the water.
- Port-aux-Choix: a 5500-year-old burial ground for the Maritime Archaic Indians (mounds that were not marked in any way... we attempted to ward off any Ancient Indian Burial Ground Curses by apologising the whole time we walked all over the mounds); the French Shore monument that marks the end of French occupancy in NFLD - it was a beautiful place, complete with lighthouse.

Gros Morne: what can I say? It is breathtaking, inviting one to pull over every few seconds to take pictures or just drink in the sights. I am happy we will be returning through the park at a more leisurely pace.

Saint Anthony: this town made up for its distance within the first few minutes of being here: on our way into town, we saw ICEBERGS! Just hanging out in the harbour, chillin'. We went for dinner to the Lightkeeper's Cafe, where we ate the local nosh: bacalhau, cod-au-gratin and peppered moose. Yum Yum! While polishing of the cod, our dining neighbour calls for a pod... and it isn't until two whole second later I realise he is referring to a "pod" outside the window - a pod of whales, that is! Right in front of our window, slapping tails and blowing spray... it was amazing. My camera-reaction was far too slow... but this bodes very well for the Boat tour we have planned for tomorrow.

Now, I'm exhausted. We have an early early start - since we're on the east coast, we're going to try and catch sunrise - and much to do tomorrow. I doubt we'll get another Internet-enabled B&B, so until later, poppets - I'd lurve ta see ya!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the rock

I depart for Newfoundland and Labrador in less than 24 hours - and am thrilled! If I get an internet connection, poppets, you know I'll try to write; however, this being a B&B trip (not a hostel in sight!), that will probably not happen. I go forward with a new camera as well, so I hope I can get as many amazing images as I did with the trusty Nikon.

Before that, I get to have dinner with a few nearest and dearest FISees tonight. Oh, how I miss LQ and cannot wait for her to come back to within 100 kms of me.

I return on the best day of the year - July 7 - and promise to update here and on flickr asap.

A few days after my return, I leave for a quickie weekend in Stratford to celebrate the births of both myself and Nish. It seems we cannot get away from each other. Not that we'd try.

Arriverderci, dear ones!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

papa bears

Living on my own, I have come to appreciate the handyman skills my father passed down to me. Just this past week, I installed light fixtures, 'remantled' my closet and fixed a 'spurting' tap. As I stood underneath a newly opened glass dome, bits of plaster from the cottage cheese ceiling falling on my forehead and in my hair, I thought "damn, am I ever glad I know the difference between hot, neutral and earth."

I remember sitting over the disemboweled remains of a radio, its wires and coils in varying stages of connection, my dad holding a skinny Phillips screwdriver like a cigarette, tapping the tip on the radio's body cavity. I kept pointing to random things and asking, "what's that?" and he would tell me something that I have no idea about now. He could have told me anything and I would have believed him. I couldn't have been more than five or six. We didn't fix the thing, but I did glean a few essential facts about positive and negative charges.

Once, we made a model solar system for my science fair project. It had all nine planets (including the now dethroned Pluto), a yellow-light bulb-sun and a moon stuck permanently over Iceland. Dad and I went to White Rose and bought Styrofoam balls, paint and glue. We went to the library to get a Solar System book so we'd know what colours to paint our planets. We went to Canadian Tire to get a light bulb socket and box cutter. Then, we made the dining table an assembly line and put this thing together, destroying my mother's salad dryer in the process - hey, the solar system needed to orbit, okay? and we never ate salad anyway. I wish I still had it, but the teacher had asked to keep it at the end of the year for the Science Corner in the library and then I moved away.

The day after I got my driver's license, before insisting I get on a highway for the first time and drive two hours to London, Daddy made sure I knew how to put gas in the tank, put windshield washer fluid and antifreeze in, change my wiper blades and clean my car until it looked almost new, with all the potions necessary (ArmourAll for the tires and dashboard, Windex for the windows, Turtle Wax for the body). Again, we went to Canadian Tire and this time we made an emergency kit together, just in case. Ahh, the days before cell phones, when being stranded for hours on the side of a highway was a real possibility.

When I moved to Kingston, we had to install bracketed shelving and the washer and dryer. I quickly learned about studs (and how to find them without a stud finder), toggle bolts, drywall anchors and the difference between torque and tension. He insisted I figure out how to identify drywall from plaster, so I wouldn't have my framed posters fall down in the middle of the night. I rolled my eyes then. I wouldn't do so now.

These days, Dad's not as young as he used to be. Standing at the top of the ladder, trying to twist three wires tight enough to fit into a cap, he gets short of breath and his arms tremble from the strain of holding them aloft for too long. He needs his reading glasses to discern the hot from the neutral. Sometimes, he confuses a Robertson with a Hex screw. When I moved into the condo, he insisted on installing the bathroom fixtures for me, while we women unpacked the kitchen. In the end: I had to remove the wonky toilet roll holder, fill and sand the holes, repaint and reinstall; I removed the medicine cabinet alone, patched and repaired the holes, installed toggle bolts for its new location and put up a towel ring in its place; I had to re-tape the showerhead, because it was leaking profusely. And though, at the time, I cursed these facts, now, I think, I really only have one person to thank for these skills (and the confidence to act on them).

I remember the two things my Dad ever insisted upon after I made the announcement that I was moving out: that there be tight security in this newfangled condo building; that we go to Canadian Tire to buy and stock a toolbox. And after I had bought these things? We sat down and made sure I knew how to use the drill and socket wrench so when I'm alone and something needs to get done, I can get it done, with confidence. He's made me the woman I am today. Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

DVD: Six Feet Under

If we judge the quality of things by how they end and the after-taste they leave, Six Feet Under is one of the best shows I've ever watched. Having devoured all five seasons in about five weeks, I can say that there were moments when I thought "ugh, this is so rinse, repeat"... but more than often, I was drawn into the Fisher lives and left wanting to find out more.

Season One was a great hook and Season Two kept it going. Seasons Three and Four were... okay, not great. Season Five, like some sort of creature cognisant of its impending death and determined to flash all its brilliance before snuffing, was just that - brilliant. Episode 512 was a showcase of laughter, tears and bitterness - all the flavours of life.

If you have time, watch it. HBO remains king in my TV Land.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Now Playing: The Taking of Pelham 123

It has been far far too long since I've last seen a movie in the theatre (and since I wrote a post, but that's another story). So, having been ditched by my board game compatriots and exhausted my WoW reserves, I was just itching to get out - even if it meant watching a mediocre movie. Enter, Pelham 123 (stage left). I confessed to my Professional Movie Goer partner that all I knew about this movie was it had John Travolta and Denzel Washington in it. He countered that it would make it all the more suspenseful.

The movie is okay. It wasn't overly thrilling or anything. There were a couple of good edits (the cops with money scene was pretty cool) and a few self-aware funny moments ("why didn't they just use a helicopter?"), but that's about it. The best part of the whole movie was spotting actors in cameos or in ironic roles: Chris Partlow as a war vet hero? Tony Soprano for Mayor? I don't even know if it was worth the price of admission - but it was worth getting out of the house. 3.5 out of 4 stars.


After the movie, I had a good giggle in the women's washroom. Even if no one had explained to you, dear reader, what exactly Pelham 123 was, I have supreme confidence that you could make a guess and be right. Go head, take a moment - have a good guess as to why this movie is called Pelham 123… I'll wait. … done? Well, this movie doesn’t make you guess - it explains to you clearly, as when John Turturro's Camonetti asks why the train is called Pehlam 123 and Washington's Garber explains it's because the first train leaves Pelham station at 1:23. So, anyway, I'm in the stall and I hear the following conversation:
Valley Girl #1: So, like, why was it called Pelham 123 anyway? Was that, like, his last name or something?
Valley Girl #2: Maybe, and like the call came in at 1:23?*
Valley Girl #3: Umm, no, I think that was the name of the train--
VG1: why would they name a movie after the train?
VG2: I think Pelham was Ryder's last name - they never said his last name.**VG3: No , I really think the train was called Pelham 123.
VG1: Why? Are there, like, 123 trains with the same name?
…and at that point they walked out. I came out to wash my hands and noticed a woman with a secret smile on her lips. I think we both covered our fear for the future women's lib by silently drying our hands.

*There were time and location stamps throughout the movie and the call clearly came in at 2:13. Even if you missed it, Travolta yelled the time at least five times, for those who can't read that fast.

** they totally said his last name. In fact, they said his entire name - Dennis Ford - in the big "revelation" scene that is the beginning of the climax of the movie. You'd have to be incredibly stupid to not be able to follow the simplistic plot of this movie; or incredibly distracted by other things. You may discuss amongst yourselves what those things may or may not be.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

the long goodbye

After eleven years of having a car in the 'Saug, I am letting it go (kinda). At the end of this month, my baby goes under the tarp and may never come back out. I'm already anxious about it (how will I get to neu+ral on a holiday Sunday? Denny's after midnight? IKEA?!), but monthly costs were just getting a bit too extravagant: $122 in insurance; $60 in gas; average of $100 in repairs. I guess I've found my limit. Let's face it: 95% of my time is spent within six city blocks. I live/work/shop in a comfortable circle about two kilometres in diametre; I have a movie theatre across the street, Book Club meets at my local Second Cup AND I think Grocery Club will be resuming shortly. I'm just… anxious. So much so, that I'm not selling my dear Quinn. He'll be on ice in the garage until such time as I feel I can let go with experiencing serious trauma. And if I need him… well, the insurance company is only a phone call away. I have no idea how long I'll survive. Smokers have their cigs; I have my car. Too bad there are no ignition patches to help me through the withdrawal.