[livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball and I left for NYC on Friday, returning late last night. He was the instigator, saying he really wanted to see Pippin, and after watching the Tony awards video (which you can see on that link right there ^^ ), I had to agree it was worth seeing on Broadway. So, in for a penny in for a pound, we also made plans for Kinky Boots, another Tony winner this year.

We had our next-door teenaged neighbour watch Rover for us, which worked out quite well, compared with boarding for the weekend- R. likes her routines, and our neighbour certainly likes Rover! (And now I notice that Rover has to sniff their door when she comes back from her walks... I think this may have something to do with bacon on the weekend...)

We got to Pearson and discovered our noon-time United flight had been postponed three hours. Well, indefinitely. Well, we might be able to rebook onto the next flight in three hours maybe. Instead of following the gate agent's instructions, I found us another United agent who instead put us and one lucky other guy onto an Air Canada flight at 3pm, and standby for an earlier flight. So the three of us trooped out of the ground-level prop-plane area to our waiting gate, and crossed our fingers, because 3pm was going to make it tight for us to get into the city and to our hotel and to Pippin. dan did his thing and got us from an unlikely standby to a much more likely standby flight- and lo, all three of us got lucky. And found ourselves on the ground at Laguardia just after 2pm. And we made it to our hotel in Hell's Kitchen, Midtown, in fine time.

At the end of this trip, I'm quite appreciative for the chance to run off and do things like this. We both really love Manhattan. We were idly talking about how great it would be to live there; perhaps when we both retire; perhaps for a short period on one of dan's sabbaticals. If this works, it will certainly involve a lot of planning- and being flexible, perhaps more so than with the flight rearrangements...

This was a full, but not overly full, trip.

We stayed in Hells Kitchen, the first time either of us had spent much time on the West Side. It was quite convenient to Broadway, our hotel was comfortable, and there were many good restaurants, including an eponymous Mexican restaurant "Hell's Kitchen" which had amazing fish.

Pippin was eye-poppingly neat. The acrobatics were the most awe-inspiring I've ever seen (see ^^ video). The first act is easily in my short list of favourite first acts of any musical. (Whatever that list is; I haven't given it serious thought except that the first act of "Sunday in the Park with George" is currently at the top. But I digress.) The story feels like it sort of unwinds in the second act. I hadn't seen the show before and wasn't prepared for a bit of storytelling where a certain amount of plot seems to be un-done in order to tell a completely different story in the second act- the story felt stapled together, and the main character AND the main actor started to grate on me a bit. I see from the wikipedia page that it could have been smoother in the second act. But the Leading Player/"Ringleader" character was wonderful throughout, including the very end where she offers Pippin a suitably glorious finale for his life aspirations. All in all, seeing this was my favourite part of the trip.

We had left Saturday mostly unscheduled, with an idea to get half-price tickets for an evening show, and a plan to see my Aunt who lives in Manhattan in the mid-afternoon. d. and I negotiated this one pretty well, also; I was going to see my Aunt while d. went downtown to buy us tickets. She accepted my sending his regrets about not seeing her, even though in advance she had said she would be very offended if he decided not to see her. Anyway, she and I got to visit, she got to show off her local Whole Foods and get me a mid-afternoon snack, and d. got to stay the hell away and do some clothes shopping downtown while ostensibly "on a line" getting us tickets at the TKTS booth.

But I get ahead of myself: In the morning we went to the Guggenheim. The main exhibit was by James Turrell, a Quaker artist and architect who works with light and shadow. In addition to designing a Quaker meeting house in Austin Texas, he's done other arts installations that have felt Quakerly to me, inviting contemplation and inner stillness. His big new work turned the seventy-five foot tall spiral atrium into ... Well, sort of the inside of a mood lamp, with gorgeous curves and subtle slow colour changes. Some 50 people laid back in the atrium looking upward at the colours. It felt meditative to me, even with the occasional conversation nearby. Though: it didn't feel like Quaker Meeting, not by a long shot. But it was at least as meditative as I could hope for in a crowd of New York tourists. I'm not sure what Frank Lloyd Wright would have thought about what they did to his atrium, but I'm grateful for the chance to see the exhibit.

There were also some great abstract art from the Guggenheim's collections, from between World War One and Two- including some great dadaist work, and some great Miró and Klee. These would have been a fine stand-alone reason to visit the museum.

And then we hit the Armory for "WS", a retelling of Snow White by Paul McCarthy. This, like the Turrell, was large-scale, covering the stadium-sized Armory (we once went to an art-sales show there, which took many hours to get through). Unlike the Turrell, it was loud, edgy, and quite profane, and I'm quite surprised they weren't sued by Walt Disney's estate. Every staff person we asked what they thought of it, said they couldn't wait for it to finish- which it was to do the day we saw it. In retrospect, I would have been fine if it had closed just before we were there.

After we met up after my Aunt, d. and I walked down to the High Line, the multi-mile linear park which used to be an elevated train-line. I wanted to like it, as a floating-park-in-midair. But there were too many people, too many rope barriers telling us what was off limits, and too few comfortable benches. All it needed was a roof and it would feel like the train- in the end I think it didn't escape far enough from that which it once was. I hope that it can gradually shift into something more than that, over the decades. Maybe a few exits into adjoining buildings? That would be spiff.

Dan's ticket find for the evening was "Phantom of the Opera", which neither of us had seen, though 20 years ago I listened to the CD quite a lot. Now in its 25th year, it was exactly like the CD, not a note different from what I remembered. And the music, instead of being a fond reminisce, sort of felt late-80s cheezy. Upsides? The costuming was great- particularly, I loved the spectacle of the masquerade ball. I guess it's good to finally see this; just as later this month I'm finally seeing Cats (in Toronto). I hope I like Cats more.

On Sunday, we walked to the Hudson River Park, just a few blocks from the hotel. Now this, this is how to redevelop an urban park. It was less manicured, more varied, and most importantly, not cramped. There was also free kayak instruction and consequently lots of people *in kayaks on the Hudson*. Which felt a bit weird to me, since I always considered the water there to be too dodgy to do anything with. For that matter, the ducks we saw next to the water looked a bit scruffy.

We did quite a lot of walking: after the Hudson park, across midtown to Central Park, lunch near Lincoln Center, and back down Broadway and down to 42nd street to see Kinky Boots. Which was great fun, and deserved their Tony wins. I might buy the album; it felt like a Cindy Lauper CD but in drag. (Which is possibly the same thing).

And then we retrieved our luggage and headed for Newark airport for our evening flight home. And we returned to Rover in our house, which was the best return ever.
I have no idea what our next-door neighbours are doing, but it involves a concrete saw and lots of dust blowing over our yard.

Also, a front-end loader.

Well, OK, I know they're removing the concrete-pad deck and replacing it with wood, because their front yard is piled with pressure-treated wood, and the back, with piles of former deck. But I don't know when they will stop- since the concrete is all under the roof, I wonder if they're playing Jenga with their house.

But I hope they finish cutting concrete soon, it's keeping me from my nap. >:-/

p.s.- and now comes the house-shaking thumps. Oh yay.


Monday, 7 April 2008 11:44 pm
This afternoon there was still a snowbank in the shadow of the house by the side of the driveway, where our tulips are planted. So I shoveled it away, about a foot of snow deep, to expose what I thought would be bare ground.

But no- there are tulip shoots. Each a few cm tall. I'm amazed.

Also, I will be surprised if there is any snow at all by the time I pick up [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball tomorrow night. It's supposed to be 17 tomorrow (62 F). Woo!

Also, I can't wait to see what the neighbour's yard looks like. Y'know, the one who replaced the big garden with lawn, and then the tulips came up anyway last year. He spent a while digging them up, but Mother Nature might have other plans.

Also, the Quaker planning meeting tonight went better than I'd even hoped. I will go away for a week utterly unstressed about this event. I just need to procure a data-projector I can borrow for the 26th- which is going to be tricky, as I'm between jobs, even if the University wanted me to borrow their projector to go off-campus... Hm, does anyone want to loan me one for a Saturday this month?... ;)

Land of the Loon

Saturday, 23 June 2007 11:55 pm
Friday's citizenship ceremony was a reasonably banal exercise in officialdom (not High Officialdom, but certainly not minimal either). The judge was the same man who presided over [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball's citizenship last year. There were 48 New Canadians, from 20 countries. Unlike d's, there was no one from Iran or Afghanistan. The judge spoke at length about the importance of being citizens. Karen Redman, the MP for the downtown area (but not for us), spoke and handed out our citizenship packets.

They gave us pins celebrating this being Canada's 60th year of citizenship. That still catches me; 61 years ago, Canadians were all British subjects.

Because some of the new citizens were from part of La Francophonie (Senegal?), we affirmed our Citizenship in both English and French. Apparently they only do the French during an English-language ceremony at the judge's discretion, plus they have less frequent French-language ceremonies as well.

In case you're curious: the Oath of Citizenship goes like so: "I affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen." "J'affirme solennellement que je serai fidèle et porterai sincère allégeance à Sa Majesté la Reine Elizabeth Deux, Reine du Canada, à ses héritiers et successeurs, que j'observerai fidèlement les lois du Canada et que je remplirai loyalement mes obligations de citoyen canadien."

My parents took us out to lunch downtown, and my mom said she wants to go see a US Citizenship ceremony to compare. We expected that it would invoke the flag more, and likely involve a metal-detector.

On the whole, the ceremony was less of a big deal than graduation, but more of a big deal than turning 30. For me, the real big deal was Friday night, when we had something like 30 or 35 people here for the party!

What a lot of fun, from start to end. The only real disappointment was not having enough time to spend with everyone- it felt like a very short 5 or so hours to me!

Our old neighbours David and Lesley (and kids L. and A.) came. ..We'd really like them to be happy in Toronto, but we're doing our best to influence them to move back here. David's first comment was, "So this means that if you've sworn allegiance to the Queen, if we badmouth her, you have to beat us up?" Um, no. But since we're pacifists, must we have someone else beat them up? This led to the question of who at the party had actually sworn allegiance, versus being born in Canada or moving here as a kid. I've done a quick run-through of people at the party, and unless I'm mistaken, I think the only people who have declared citizenship were Karl, Jennifer, and Dan, all three of us Quakers. Huh. So I wonder whether there were any other declared Canadian citizens at the party?

You lot didn't drink as much as we expected. I am terribly terribly disappointed. Also, my parents weren't scandalized, though I don't know where they were during the Cleavage-Off that eventually went on in the living-room. Heh, I think I was talking to my Mom then, as she was trying to figure out who she'd just been talking to. My parents were both convinced I have great friends, and I'm certainly inclined to agree. If you were there and I didn't introduce you to my parents, I'm very sorry- I had tried to make that work.

What a great way to end the party; chilling with about fifteen of you LJ lot in the living-room, complete with back rubs and mellow conversation. Have I mentioned recently how grateful I am to have friends like you folk?

And additionally, a public thanks for all your party contributions.

Notable at the moment: [livejournal.com profile] fuzzpsych's record album whose title (and soon, image) are at top of this post. :)

Minor Observations

Sunday, 29 April 2007 05:57 pm
The back yard hammock is so more enjoyable when the next-door neighbour isn't blasting guitar-rock. Thanks to whomever rang the doorbell and got him to turn it down. I'd assumed it was [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball... but it wasn't.

Window washing always feels a bit pointless beforehand, and OMZG such an improvement when it's done. ...I vaguely wish I could get a frontal-lobe wipedown. I mean, I feel better when I get my schedule and todo items recorded and not cluttering my brain, I wonder what other cruft is knocking around up there.

The Globe and Mail's business magazine had a (mostly useless) article on learning to haggle in day-to-day life. I hate haggling, and I'd hate living in a culture that expects it for everyday activities. But this article did have a nifty side-bar explaining Quaker influence in reducing haggling in 1700s and 1800s Britain and New England. There was a short list of companies that succeeded through their Quaker "fair trading" business practices. I knew Lloyd's and Barclays, and Cadbury's, were all started by Quakers, but I hadn't known that R. H. Macy, of Macy's was also Quaker. Neat.

Finally: I wish I were in Boston on May 15th. xkcd@MIT! :)


Tuesday, 10 April 2007 06:11 pm
Foo. I feel like a no-good-nik. The across-the-street neighbours (who watched [livejournal.com profile] roverthedog while we were in NYC) just asked about temporarily parking a car in our driveway. We just checked it out and I had to tell them no, it's not physically wide enough (leaving aside any of the many other factors).

Right now, their daughter is living with them; she drives 20km every day to work. Her boyfriend is visiting for a month, from Vancouver, and he's got a car too. A. and W. are trying to sell their second car.

He still needs to drive it to work, though, or they'd put it somewhere else.

It seems a bit of a comedy of errors that two eco-friendly(-ish) households can't successfully make this work, but I don't think we could. Another case to illustrate the point that good intentions are no guarantee of something working.

The best I can do is:

Is anyone in the market for a red Honda Acura? 10 years old, good condition? :)

Marion's Crocuses

Saturday, 31 March 2007 02:29 pm
I just turned the compost for the first time this year ([livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball usually ends up with this chore). I introduced a big bag of shredded white paper and leftover leaves from last winter... I like turning things into dirt.

Last summer, our neighbours dug up and re-sodded their lawn to replace the bushes and flowers which had been tended for decades by the prior owner. It was all a bit sad, because Marion had lived there for so long and had died the summer before. But the new owners nicely gave all their neighbours lots of notice so we could dig up what we wanted to save. I planted a few things which I hope will start sprouting (and I think I see signs of her crocuses in the back part of our yard, today.)

But- the next door neighbour's lawn is also coming up crocuses. All over. It looks like they didn't remove enough of the dirt, huh? It looks pretty neat to me, though it puts a damper on our neighbour's plans for a "nice clean grass yard" as he told us last year. Unless I'm mistaken, he will need to dig all of them up by hand unless he wants them coming back again and again. Bet he's pissed. As you might guess, my sympathies are elsewhere. Grow, crocuses, grow! :)

Pretty Big Dig

Thursday, 6 July 2006 01:01 am
Pretty Big Dig is... ballet, with big yellow excavators.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] bats22 for pointing out this short documentary on the making of the clip, which is almost more cool than the ballet itself, because the artist's enthusiasm is just so infectious.

Now, if my next-door neighbour starts running his damn earth-movers tomorrow before 7am like he did this morning, I'm definitely going out to complain.


Saturday, 20 May 2006 10:57 pm
Today was a fine day.

Last night late, just as I was getting ready for sleep I discovered eight stupendously well-thought responses on my post on the subject of niceness. I'm still digesting those; if I haven't responded to you yet, please accept my thanks now for giving me good stuff chew on.

I made it to the Farmer's Market this morning in plenty of time to shop and have my apple fritters (they gave me a freebie! And I didn't even tell them it was my birthday.) I was sneaky and successfully ran into [livejournal.com profile] lovecraftienne, [livejournal.com profile] kourtneyshort, [livejournal.com profile] joymoose, and [livejournal.com profile] hippybngstockng, [livejournal.com profile] uniquecrash5, and their cute kid K.

In addition to conversation, shopping and such I also had some multi-culti bliss watching lots of little old ladies speaking Polish/ Russian/ Chinese/ Portuguese.

At [livejournal.com profile] kourtneyshort's generous invite, I went to The Brick for a beer-tasting avec elle et la multitalented [livejournal.com profile] joymoose, as well as to meet [livejournal.com profile] wefightforpie & a diminutive [livejournal.com profile] wefightfortarts. Good times. The server was quite helpful; coming to our table to repeatedly fill glasses with free local beer. Kourtney brought a yummy dip and veggies, and I brought some bagel-chunks, and someone brought some chips, to complete a carbohydrate-heavy lunch.

I collected birthday wishes on the phone from my sweetie and my parents.

I collected flowers and other plants from our next-door neighbour's yard, because the new owner's going to bulldoze the remains and turn it into grass. Yes, that's sad. But I think Marion would've been happy that her flowers were going to all of her neighbours' yards, even if we won't be as good at gardening as she, when she was alive. But someone else took the flowers [livejournal.com profile] tbiedl pointed out to me the other afternoon. Rats. And... I planted everything.

I was going to pan-roast some duck for dinner, but my parents called back and by the time I finished talking with them, I was more in the mood for leftovers. Tomorrow!

Speaking of which, it is tomorrow. Time for bed.
I came home to [livejournal.com profile] tbiedl plus two sprog (*) sitting and chatting with dan; they brought over Professor Wormbog and the Zipperumpa-Zoo specifically because I mentioned it fondly the other day in this journal; I read it to C. (who's three). T. offered to loan it to me, with a wink (which nicely forestalled one of her problems, of a certain assertive small person demanding that book be read to her 89 quadrillion times.) Hey, I'm willing to help out. *shrug* Which is how I got a kid's book on loan this evening.

We all went out to the yard, and discovered our neighbour two doors down, digging in the gardendandelion patch next-door. He said that our neighbour will be tilling it under in a few weeks, so any flowers we want, we should probably come rescue. Sounds like a good challenge to me. My mission is to figure out the ones that T. and dan recommended, dig 'em up, and plant them in our yard. Bonus points if they live more than a month; double bonus if they come back next spring.

Rover seemed to have rolled in something awful, so d. gave her a bath. Go boyfriend go!

I took d. out to celebrate passing his citizenship test; we went to the Bookshelf Cafe in Guelph. The food was OK. My appetizer was super: fried fish-cakes on top of mango and apple slices. My main course was so-so deconstructed mu shu with tofu, but it wasn't as good as the mu shu my sweetie makes. Our server was a bit over the line on being friendly, on toward flirting. Well, no, she was well over the line- she touched my shoulder a buncha times, and consiprationally told me about falling off the wagon on her Cleansing yesterday (she ate a piece of chocolate). d. suggested that maybe the two were connected, and she thought maybe I was a bar of soap? Y'know, to help with the clensing. Hm.


I'm thinking it's bedtime.

(*) who came up with this term for progeny? I forget. Anyway I like it.
So tired. But in a good way.

I got up nice and early, that is to say 9:30 new-time, and baaaarely got to Quaker meeting. After, I came home and had a big salad for lunch, then started checking stuff off my todo list. I cleaned the kitchen, trimmed Rover ), and took her with me to retrieve my bike from the University. We had a wonderful walk there, and a pretty OK run/bike/walk back. I was curious how she'd do with running next to the bike. She looked like she was having fun, but not hugely enthusiastic (she wasn't trying to outrace me, for example). I took it quite slowly, and I stopped when she wanted to stop and sniff. Remembering d's biking fall with her, last autumn, I held the leash very loose, so if she yanked I'd lose the leash, not my balance.

The return included a three-hour pause at L & D's house, our next-block neighbours. Their son A. had been taking a wagon around the neighbourhood on trash day. When I showed up, he and a friend were sitting in the yard with a TV in the wagon, watching the static. Which is funny, because L & D are pretty strict about not watching TV. Until today, they've avoided having a regular TV set for the entire life of their kids; you can totally see the effects if you watch the kids interact. They're terrifically inventive, and verbally proficient, and all-around great kids. So today there were negotiations, starting from "you can keep one TV, and it will stay in the yard" down to "OK, it can stay in the basement." The kids are good negotiators. Probably because they didn't watch any TV.

L. tried to use some Jewish Mom guilt tricks on them, but she lacks practice and didn't do it effectively, so the TV stayed. I gave her a few pointers, such as appealing to God with outstretched arms. ...but that won't work so well, since she's atheist. Ah well. She can talk to the light-fixture and pretend, like, um, lots of other Jewish mothers...

L and I spent a while comparing families. Her parents are only 7 or 8 years older than mine, which surprised me because she just turned 48. I keep forgetting that my parents are old; I was born when they were over 30.

I stayed for dinner (how could I turn down jambalaya and brownies?) and when I next looked at the clock it was just after 10pm. I have a kayaking date with D soon after I get back from my vacation. He says there are tons of rivers which are super kayaking but are only navigable for the next few weeks. I'm excited, I've never kayaked before really.

And now, to bed. My todo list doesn't look so awful now, I'm pretty much ready for my trip. I had hoped to make ice-cream this weekend (so I don't spoil the milk and cream I have in the fridge) but I suppose I still have tomorrow evening to try.

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