The Hester Pumpernickel Guide To The Real London For Middle-Aged Persons, Or, “Expect Delays: A Collection Of Amusing And Useful Observations Of Persons, Places and Things In A Foreign Land”. Part Two: Getting Around With Class.

After being home for over a week, and missing The Whole England Experience, I chanced upon an article about London, from the New York Times, reprinted in the Toronto Star. Keen to compare my excellent voyage with that of Shivani Vora, I dove in. I jumped out. I am still laughing.

I was going to call this chapter “First Class Comfort in Third Class,” but who am I kidding? Shivani Vora could teach me a thing or two. And I could teach her. I am, no doubt, a huge disappointment to the travel and tourism industry. But, boy, did I ever have an excellent holiday, and here are some things that made it great.

Planes

Air Canada, through a subsidiary, flies a machine from small cities like mine to big airports like Toronto Pearson that Orville & Wilbur Wright would’ve drooled over, and Indiana Jones would’ve admired. I think this small plane service is great, because it takes a lot of complications out of the travel equation: one airline, one website, one place to watch your connecting flight disappear eastwards without you. Because, yes, the propellered rattling can was delayed beyond delay. I started crocheting my bedspread border. I missed my London flight.

In former days, anxiety would’ve overcome me. How I’ve ended up in a place where, “Huh!” and “Well! Now what, I wonder?!” are responses to glitches is a puzzle, an amazement, and a comfort. Sometime around midnight, in Toronto, I was handed a sheaf of stapled-together slips and sent off for a complimentary limo ride to a hotel far, far away in Brampton. I had a nice chat with my driver. I had a nice four-hour nap between one and five a.m., and took a free limo ride back to the airport, where a $10 meal voucher bought me two bottled juices and a regular coffee. No change.

I’d selected an aisle seat at the back for my late night flight, and was able to take the same for the morning departure. I prefer the window, but as I was originally going to fly all night, it didn’t matter so much if I had a view. More importantly, at 56, I need the toilet more frequently than I used to, and didn’t want to be a damned nuisance for someone else. Turns out that an aisle seat at the back is the First Class Of Third Class, especially when the seat beside you is vacant. No room in the overhead bins, but my carry-on is soft-sided, and fits neatly under the seat in front of the unoccupied chair. Please don’t tell anyone how comfortable it is back there, especially where the aisle widens so the food and beverage trolleys don’t knock your elbows.

And don’t you love how airlines make you walk through First Class, then Superior Economy, before you scuttle, sideways, to the chaos that is like Musical Chairs for the impossible pile of carry-on luggage at the back? Here’s the joy: the baby was in the expensive seats. The people up there paid up to $281 more for Comfort Economy. We hardly heard that infant at all.

Trains and Buses, Including the River

New York Times gal Shivani Vora recommends a self-directed Small Car Big City Tour Of London in a Mini Cooper, where a child-friendly Snakes & Ladders themed map will take your confined, lost, increasingly angry, and wealthy family through Kensington’s highlights, and set you back only £385.

I ordered a London Transit visitor’s “Oyster” Card for Zones 1-6 months before my trip, and put £50 on it. No tourist hop-on-hop-off for me, and no Mini Cooper tour, either. The transit system, and the internet, make getting around London, for the able-bodied, an exercise boot camp of stair appreciation and deft footwork on uneven surfaces, but it is an unbeatable way to see so much of this enormous metropolis with little expense and no fuss.

First, the Tube from Heathrow on the Piccadilly line is so easy as to be comical. Second, the Map It app and the London Transit webpage let you find a bus or train on the go, or in advance. Thirdly, you can use your Oyster card to ride the River Buses, and I highly recommend it: concession/tea stand, clean toilets, and the staff count the passengers so that EVERYONE GETS A SEAT!

The closest I got to family was sharing a laugh with a boy and his dad about two pigeons that rode the river bus from the Embankment to Westminster outside at the back with us, for free.

One afternoon, I rode the front seat upstairs on buses for four hours, seeing Notting Hill, stopping for lunch in Camden Town, finding the Monument to the Great Fire, and getting two great photos on the Waterloo Bridge in a sunshower. There’s a £9 daily cap on bus travel, no matter how many buses or where you go. I highly recommend seeing some places outside the core, where real people live.


Automobiles

Shivani’s got some other wildly expensive tour options, but the tip-top delight would seem to be the four-hour When Harry Met Meghan Royal Black Taxi Tour for those “hankering to know more about the couple”. Unlike me. You can “… see sights in London related to them, including Nottingham Cottage in Kensington Palace, where they will live, and Battersea Park, which they visited together. Stops at sites such as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey are also included.” From $632 a person. Go, Shivani, go.

Nest

I’ll wrap up by stating that I don’t travel much. I am positively ecstatic to travel, and even when I am fatigued to the point of intellectual impairment, I am happy in travelling. My Expedia.ca booking was perfect, and if you, too, prefer an apartment to a hotel, I cannot say enough about 18 Exeter Street. It is exactly like the pictures. It has a washer/dryer. It was, as promised, superb. The agency has many more properties, but I thought Aldwych near the Strand (Covent Garden Tube) was absolutely perfect.

Until next time,

F9680014-F2F1-41B7-BF9F-7225CA239CDB

The Hester Pumpernickel Guide To The Real London For Real Middle-Aged Persons, Or, “Expect Delays: A Collection Of Amusing And Useful Observations Of Persons, Places, And Things In A Foreign Land”. Part One: Backwards

I travelled, by plane, from my small city to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. I travelled, by plane, from Toronto to London’s Heathrow Airport. One person with cross-body-strapped purse; light wool car coat and scarf; soft, medium-sized carry-on bag; and one small, wheeled suitcase in the hold as checked luggage. Practically packed and easily manageable. After a time, I reversed the journey and flew to Toronto from London. And there, dear Reader, It Was Discovered That I Was And Had Been A Dangerous Threat To The Safety And Security Of ALL Humanity!!! Yes. There is a woman on the luggage X-ray machine at Pearson International Airport who finally caught my nefarious plan to take over the world by bringing Dangerous and Forbidden Items Of Worldly Destruction onto the quirky Indiana-Jones-style propeller craft that flies anywhere except where you want to go late, delayed, later than delayed, and finally, really late, to the place I call Home.

Behold! The Lee Valley Tools ™ Credit Card Sized Multi-Tool!

To hell with Toronto! To Hell with London! Someone has to protect Sarnia from a woman who can measure, in millimeters, the tiny length of seatbelt extender she really needs*

*hmnn-dee-la-la-la-la, OKAY! CENTIMETERS!

and wished that seatbelt manufacturers would just add that on to their regular seatbelts so she doesn’t have other passengers twisting around and gawking to see Who The Fat Person Is, because you have to ask for a seatbelt extender and it is often met with a “Tsk” by flight attendants, over-worked as they are, but I don’t care in this particular instance. I am fastening myself in. I am not going to go off in all directions in the case of air turbulence. I am going to be comfortable. So I ask. I am particularly polite. I am more than particularly polite while travelling. And really friendly. I am a happy person. And here I am going somewhere, so I am really, really happy!

The attendants on the roaring putt-putt to and from Sarnia do not mind at all, by the way. The industrial nature of the great part of our economy has a lot of big, burly fellows flying in and out. They may be a little smaller in the hip than I am, but, whoo, it’s a tight fit for a big pair of shoulders and a set of matching legs. Seatbelt extenders galore. Take two?!

Anyway. The woman on the X-ray machine at Pearson shoofed all my belongings in their big trays over to another woman in blue nitrile gloves who said I could tell her where everything was but I couldn’t touch. Okay.

“Do you have a multi-tool?”

“What?”

I received this clever thing as a Christmas present a long time ago. I put it in my purse in case I ever need to MacGyver. My life being what it is, no MacGyvering. I had forgotten all about it. I knew – I know – where it is. If you are ever looking for the best purse in the world, Derek Alexander ™ makes a number of items so practical and long-wearing that I am amazed he is still in business. Pockets? Holders? Tabs? One front zippered section full of tucks and holders for car keys, phone, pen, TicTacs ™, notes, things, stuff, and sundry. One back zippered section that is my First Aid Department, and a second magnet-fastened section that is Beauty. And a deep, wide, main pocket, itself containing a zippered niche, big enough for a wallet and my iPad ™. I paid – for me – a lot of money for my first real designer purse, and remain in love with it. In love. I know what’s in there.

“Third card slot down, on your right, zippered section, front,” I said. She took the Evil Tool Of Worldly Destruction to her supervisor, whose eyes opened and rolled. Then it was time for my carry-on.

“Are you carrying scissors?”

“Toiletry bag inside the zipper-sealed plastic bag. Sewing scissors with a protective cap.”

Eyes opened. Eyes rolled.

“And you can’t take this water with you.”

“I just got it with my snack on an Air Canada flight and couldn’t drink it then.”

“You have to drink it here.”

(Remember, I am on my way to what starts out as a two-hour layover for another Air Canada flight in an airport lounge where other bottles of water are for sale.)

“You can have it!”

And that is why Humanity Lived To See Another Day!!!

Sarnia. Safest city In The World.

And that X-ray agent? Wasted. A hawk-eyed talent utterly wasted. She should be looking for scientific advances in cancer treatments in a university lab. And yet, what about the little wooden crochet hook I bought especially for travelling, worried my metal one would get me in trouble? What about my nail clippers? What about my strong, bare hands?!?!

I had a marvellous time on a marvellous trip.

Next: Part Two.

Jingle Quietly: I am hanging on by a thread over here

This is the hardest month. It has been the hardest month for me for a long, long, long time; the reasons have changed and grown and changed and grown again. Slowly but surely, from bad times to better, I believe I have gotten better at coping – and enjoying – first Christmas, and now the entire work-up to that day and what I used to consider its ugly finale, New Year’s Eve. Like an awful lot of people, I get through December and early January and breathe a thousand sighs of immense relief. Like a lot of single people, I dread the scrutiny and impolite queries of others this month in particular. I am 56 years old, and I am relatively new in town. There never was and never is any licence for judgemental snooping, and those of you who poke around where you don’t belong really, really need to stop. It isn’t friendly, it isn’t christmassy. And I haven’t snapped yet, but that doesn’t mean I won’t.

Now: Yule. I enjoy the aroma of pine and the joy of little kids. I like special Christmas foods. I sing along to some of the carols on the radio. I will probably send cards, and a few gifts. I buy myself gifts, and I give to those in much greater need.

And everything else can leave me alone.

Everyone can leave me alone.

Leave me alone, please.

It is not your fault I feel this way. It’s how I manage. There is absolutely nothing you may or can fix.

I am writing because I am frazzled, and I am frazzled because I am feeling pressure to be and do things that make me very unhappy. I forgot to lock my car overnight last week, and today I tried to open my apartment door with my car key. I am falling asleep at odd times, probably because my nights are presenting me with the scariest, illogical and plain old mean nightmares, after which I do not want to lie down again. And to tell you the truth, the #MeToo movement has been great in a lot of ways and an absolute misery at the same time.

I am the one who is having the problem with extra hypersensitivity this year. I am the one who is slouching, crouching, sneaking out the back in the middle of the celebration planning meeting. I am just not into it this go-round.

If I say so – if I admit this – I hope you will forgive me my own impoliteness.

The anxiety that overcomes me causes me to feel shame, and I am writing here to admit it and to stop it. I have roughly planned my month. I may wake up tomorrow and feel the need to make some changes, and I may not. I think life is good. May you find yourself feeling the same.

I wish you a lovely holiday season.

I wish you a very happy new year.

Jingle Quietly!

“An Orthodox Jew, Rabbi Freundel was fixated on the minutiae of Jewish law. He drilled his converts in the proper blessings to say over a banana or a pretzel, and the order in which they should be recited should we happen to eat both at the same meal. This kind of knowledge was the bedrock of my conversion experience. But how could I continue to make myself care about such details when it became clear that the man who taught them to me valued knowing the blessing for a specific food group over behaving like a decent human being?” Bethany Mandel, The New York Times, November 15,2017

For this atheist, the idea that people think there is a “proper” blessing for a banana or a pretzel is utterly and completely insane.

Religious observance of banana and pretzel prayer etiquette is why I think, on my dark days, that humans are irredeemably stupid.

Please understand that I was raised catholic, and my eyes roll and my heart aches at the nonsense and horrors entailed therein. Or in any religious sect, cult, or fad. You quartz crystal lovers and astrologers, you, too. East and west, north and south, devotion to ritual and superstition horrifies me.

Obedience is not a virtue. But what is this desire, in some, to follow slavishly, unquestioningly, absurdly down that path? Why throw your heart and intellect away for what you KNOW is “the man behind the curtain”? Behind the camera lens? A man? An ordinary man?

BZZZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZ!! and MEEP! MEEP!!

What could be better than a two-hour endodontic treatment to re-do a root canal that costs as much as your monthly budget?

Why, the second part of the appointment next week for another two hours, and my first speeding ticket!

Everybody drives like they’re escaping the zombie apocalypse on the highway between London, Ontario and Sarnia. Then, suddenly, just inside the city limits, almost everybody slows right down to that posted 100 kmh. Because they know what’s going to happen. Except the woman with the lucky dice. And they are lucky: my ticket is for 20 kliks over the limit instead of the 30 I was doing passing that huge truck.

And now that woman knows, too.

I will confess to no more without a lawyer versed in the stress of dental treatments, the temptations of old Van Halen songs, a smooth road on a sunny day, and a not-fast-enough transport truck.

What do you do when you have had dental work and the joy of a speeding ticket on the same day?

I sprung for the “medium care” car wash, and bought a sack of potato chips to eat for lunch, with the bottle of cola I’ve been saving since my birthday. I have also gone amok and now have soft pitas and hummus for supper. With another glass of cola, no doubt.

It’s 31 degrees Celsius outside, with a humidex of 40.

My mouth is still partly frozen. I have spilled pop down the right side of me.

Je ne regrette rien.

Meep! Meep!

BANANAS! And a Head Transplant

For two days now, my Del Monte breakfast banana has announced, by way of a very small sticker, that I could WIN a FREE BANANA COSTUME. I have given this some thought, and I have some questions for the fine folks at Del Monte, and for you!

First of all, who has ever heard of winning anything that one then has to pay for? I am not caffeinated sufficiently before breakfast, but even then I’d know that if this prize wasn’t FREE, there would be a scam brewing. Second, why would anyone want a banana costume? Thirdly, if I went online (after securing the use of an electron microscope to read the exact web address) what guarantee would there be – if I were the lucky recipient of this largesse – that I’d receive one in the appropriate plus size?

Maybe you have always dreamed of wearing a banana costume. If so, go to the Del Monte banana website and get in on the draw. I’m telling you now that your desire might be a mistake. You can’t get up or down stairs in a banana costume. You can’t use a toilet. Your arms, constricted, are as useful as the mitts on a Tyrannosaurus rex. No leaving the house without banging your stem on the doorframe, either, and you’ll be rolling yourself into brown bruises down the stairs. And forget the bus. Forget driving a car.

All you would be, friend, is enslaved in the plastic wrap and padding of an advertisement for Del Monte bananas.

I eat bananas, cut up in a bowl, with toasted bagels, for breakfast, because potassium is good for me. I cannot abide the aroma (I would be more honest calling it the stench) of a ripe specimen of this fruit. I’m lucky my local No Frills sells them green. They taste fine to me the way I like them. Odourless. Two or three mornings a week.

Something else that’s odourless is whatever it is that’s causing me and a few other persons I’ve heard hither and yon to find ourselves in a sudden, desert-dry, eye-popping, tear-inducing, gritty-twine-around-the-windpipe, death-grip, choking cough, precipitated, my doctor and pharmacist say, by allergic post-nasal drainage gone awry. I’ve had to spend a chunk of change on a prescription for a night-time nasal spray. I have had to double up my 24-hour over-the-counter morning tablets. I’ve been spending large portions of the night upright on my couch.

And do you know what provides the most relief? Werther’s hard candies. Whenever the tickle starts.

Which is why sleeping’s been a problem. Who’s awake to unwrap and suck on a candy when they’re sleeping?

But things are looking up. I have been on the new nasal spray and allergy meds regimen for a week now, and my cough is diminishing. All the muscles involved in clearing blockages and inhaling large quantities of oxygen are tip-top, too, and my ribs don’t hurt anymore. Most days now, I don’t even cough hard enough to pee my pants even once.

I give it one more week, and then I’m calling my physician to ask for one of those newfangled head transplants.

If you see me around in a banana costume, breathing easy all day and night, you know I got one.

Sssswwwwwwussssssssssssssssss!!!!! SSSWwwwwuck!!! SSSssweet!!!

I did go today.
I did vacuum.
Well, I plugged in and pushed and dragged the appliance shown above all over my apartment for about half an hour.
I did not use the hose and attachments to go under things. I got hot and sweaty enough earlier, was my excuse.
I can do that on Saturday was my second idea.
And I probably will, because this Hoover is a mighty fine Hoover.
This appliance picked up two canisters of fur and dirt. I think it picked up fur and dirt from the last three tenants, as well as everything neglected by my other vacuum since October. It emptied easily and cleanly.
Also, it is red and shiny.
There was a lavender coloured vacuum cleaner at the store. I was becoming enraged just looking at it.
Red and shiny is good.
Finally, I believe that the furry dog pictured on the box was reduced in size seven times by close proximity to an operating model, and is revealed almost bald.
There is hope yet.

KA-BOOOOOMMMM!!!!

What did I ever do to the Bissell Vacuum Company? Hmn? What have I ever done to anyone to deserve this fifty-six-year-long fight with carpet cleaning and carpet shampooing appliances? And, more importantly, how is Bissell allowed to design, name, produce and sell a "pro" vacuum cleaner that works as well as me shaking a stick at the pet fur on my wall-to-wall apartment carpeting? EH?
I am all sweaty and mad.
I always get sweaty and mad when I vacuum. My mom used to make me clean the house with an old "floating" globular Hoover when I was a kid. It flung particulates everywhere. My dad was a matchstick shredding, tobacco-shedding, ash-spreading slob. I bump walls and furniture in completely unsublimated rage to this day, thanks to him – less the coughing, thanks to air filtering. I have had many vacuum cleaners of greater and lesser worth over the years, but I suspect the entire world would agree with me when I say that the MINUMUM REQUIREMENT from such a machine would bloody well be SUCTION.
I am, today, finally admitting that I am broken. Broken, hopeless and forlorn.
"Oh," you say. "Dyson!" you say. I hate that Dyson guy. He is so smug. He sells $700 vacuums. $800 vacuums. And a pet fur specialty vacuum that I can order from amazon.ca for $900. I wish he would have devoted his life to perfecting a toaster, because I have to toast my bagels and bread in two steps to get them right. And I love my toaster. No one understands the need for perfect toast, so I work around it.
But vacuum cleaners? Vacuum cleaners should be easy! Jets in reverse! Make stuff GO AWAY! There are flippin LEAF BLOWERS destroying everyone's piece of mind all over the damned place! Men LOVE THEM! Turn the motor the other way!!!

Why are there useless $100 vacuums and divinely perfect $700 vacuums and nothing but wretched gambles in between?

I knew it wouldn't be easy. It is never easy. The cat and dog take off to the furthest walls. The cord gets yanked to its utmost length. I push the power button. Dust and fur go in and then
SONOFA
that infuriating sliiiiiiiiithhh sound when a glob of dog hair throws the vacuum into a state of shock and I have to shut her all down, open the hatch, pull out the tangle, shut the hatch, click the canister back on, plug in the machine, touch the floor and
SONOFA
that infuriating sliiiiiiiiithhh sound when a glob of dog hair throws the vacuum into a state of shock and I have to shut her all down, open the hatch, pull out the tangle, shut the hatch, click the canister back on, plug in the machine, touch the floor and
SONOFA
that infuriating sliiiiiiiiithhh sound when a glob of dog hair throws the vacuum into a state of shock and I have to shut her all down, open the hatch, pull out the tangle, shut the hatch, click the canister back on, plug in the machine, touch the floor and
SONOFA

KA-BOOM!

I'VE HAD IT!

If I were one half of a millimeter closer to being a slightly different kind of person, there would be an assortment of busted pieces of a crappy, useless household appliance littering the little concrete paved patio six floors below me.
As it is, I see Walmart, the retailer I hate but can actually afford, has a highly rated Hoover in stock. I haven't had a fight with a Hoover for a long time. Shark was okay to me for a while. Bissell makes me cry. My Bissell "Pro Heat" "power steamer" sits here beside me in the living room. Dead. It lead me along for two years. YouTube advises I open it up, as I might be able to discover a part that I might be able to remove, order, and replace.
I am, at heart, a simple consumer. I wish to purchase a thing and use it for a reasonable length of time that I measure in years and years. I don't want a noisy pile of plastic, wheels, and tubes to exude heat and not ingest anything remotely resembling household dirt.
I am not going today, but when I do, please, little Hoover, please, be good to me.

No Food, Wonders of the World, Art, No Food, Food

I tried to buy lunch today. I got this brainy idea yesterday – I’d visit the newly-opened restaurant on the corner, visit our famous museum, visit our famous art gallery, and enjoy ice cream for supper sometime around 7:30 this evening. President’s Choice Vanilla mixed with Breyer’s Dark Chocolate Truffle. I have enough left of each for one big bowl of it. I have saved it as a kind of a reward. For enduring a “webinar” I should listen to for professional purposes. That I’d rather not.

I live in a small town. People correct me, correctly, to advise that it is, in fact, a small City, Capital “C” – but it is really a town. And I – along with a large portion of the downtown populace – have been watching the dismantling of a failed culinary adventure for some months now, hoping, eagerly, for a different eatery to plunk down, prosper, and stay. Downtown took terrible hits years ago, I am told, losing commerce and all to the outskirts mall. Slowly, it’s been coming back. Each piece of the core propping up and encouraging the others. Two days ago, through the new, massive dark windows of this renovation venture, we could see booths and mops. Yesterday the signs were up, lights lit, the windows were rolled open and the happy hubbub of satisfied diners emanated out to those of us walking dogs and the like.

I googled the menu. I counted the cash. I walked over. I rejoiced in the closed windows – hey, it’s over thirty degrees Celsius with the humidity today – and then I went in.

My rule is: five minutes or being ignored by six separate staff, and I’m outta there. This lovely space, which shall remain nameless, was full. Unfortunately, it has been designed with a large number of extraordinarily comfortable looking six-person curved booths, many four-person booths along the long window wall, and a large, disheartening collection of tippy-toppy high tables for four, with matching tippy-toppy bar stools. And that’s it. So parties of two monopolize more room than is otherwise necessary. And parties of one do not belong. Also, as I stood there, I decided that no matter what happened, the high chairs were not a prudent perch. I am tall enough to hop up. Visions of my rump accelerating all the way down to the floor under a broken stool preoccupied me for a while, though. I did have some time to think about safety, and spectacle, and the social aspects and psychology of seating and comfort. As well as the optics of being elevated among this crowd to eat a burger.

In a city, people eating lunch do not gawk at whomever comes in, and then they do not gawk again when that person waits for a table. As I took inventory of seating design, I made slightly too long, disconcerting (for me) eye contact with probably ten customers, at whom I smiled, because this is a small town, but not one of the five individual wait staff walking right past me standing there would look me in the eye. You know that swervy motion people make with their whole head when a big bee flies by their nose? That’s what I got. Five times. The owners have another version of this place in a town close by that is spoken of highly. Ostensibly, they’ve done this “service” routine before. They may have, in fact, encountered a lone person waiting for a table in a full place before. I can’t tell you anything about it or what might have happened, though, because in a city, a staff member would say, “Hi! We’re so busy today! We’ll have a table in about twenty minutes. Is that okay?” In a town, this big woman is, to those from whom I would’ve ordered a big meal and a pint, and tipped well, absolutely invisible. It’s Las Vegas, pay-per-view magical. Except to ten customers. Who’d probably would’ve watched me eat. And drink. And break a chair.

So they may prosper, but they’ll do it without me.

Off I went to the famous, privately owned Stones & Bones Museum. Entrance fee: $7 even. Stuffed with an alarming large and varied menagerie of taxidermy, fantastic fossils, information posters, preserved specimens of this, that, and the other, and possessed of an excellent gift shop. The best thing about the Stones & Bones, though, amid the walls of beetles and butterflies and shark jaws and gems and dinosaur pieces and hunks of copper and snake skins and bird-killing spiders and EVERYTHING is the ebullient banter of amazed, chattering, joyful kids. One of whom, unprompted, pointed out to me in particular more details about a specific iridescent butterfly than I was quite prepared to enjoy. But still. There’s something wrong with you if you forget how that was – to see something so wondrous for the first time, and to tell somebody about it. It’s a great place.

So off to the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery. All contents actually owned by this sliver of a gem. As you will be told three times – all contents owned, I mean – and will thus, in all likelihood, remember. Admission free, donations gladly accepted. Two Emily Carr works beautifully displayed, with illustrations of how one, in particular, was restored to its bright self. Respectable Group of Seven in small number. Modern stuff upstairs. Pleasant and knowledgeable reception, and two interestingly informative volunteers. Thank you. I’ll be back in a year.

And then I walked my heat-heavy ankles over to a pub that had its doors all open. In this heat! So I came home.

Supper will be cremini mushrooms in olive oil and butter, with garlic and spinach, on spaghettini. And a beer. I doubt very much that there is a webinar in my near future. There will be ice cream. My ankles have returned to happiness. A good day, even without lunch.


* GPS! in case you’re helicoptering in! (I told you it is cool for kids!)

Review of Books: TR Pearson’s “East Jesus South” and Ian McGuire’s “The North Water”.

I am reading a lot of books at the moment. Again. As usual. All at once. I own very few of them. I am a library gal. I paid amazon.ca to send me T.R. Pearson’s “Off For the Sweet Hereafter” and “East Jesus South” this spring, though. I finished reading the latter up at the leash-free dog park this morning and here I am, a tiny !pip! of a !squeak! in the Weberverse, to tell you how glorious the man’s talent is. If you do not know or think you might imagine satisfying the pleasures of fine crafted, funny, clever prose – and you would like a taste of some of the mannerisms of a part of the American south (satirized, yes, but cut from true cloth), just read T.R. Pearson. From the beginning, if possible. Now. Today. Life is short.

My public library hasn’t got a single one of his works. I hope to amass the entire oeuvre of the gentleman. With my own money. That’s love.

Yesterday I drank a quart (4 cups) of my very fine iced coffee, and sat in the afternoon and evening and drank another. Consequently, I spent the night sort of upright on my sofa, too edgy to lie down in bed, and too tired to read past 12:30 a book of astounding force. I am halfway through “The North Water” and what a ship into the hell that is people it is. Compelling, horrifying, realistic, sad and – hey, I don’t know what’s going to happen on this or after this mid-19th century whaling voyage, but I give the novel a 10 now. It will not let me down. I can just feel it.

It is a library book. It is excellent.

From the air conditioned oasis that is my apartment, I wish you happy reading!