February 4, 2003
This entry could have also been titled “Other Things We Did in Toronto Besides Meet Fun People from the Internet”. I’ll skip right over Friday night because all we did in Toronto then was find the hotel and then sleep. We slept and slept until late Saturday morning and so didn’t go down to have breakfast in the restaurant attached to the hotel until close to 10 o’clock. We were almost done with our meal when I overhead a man a couple tables away ordering his food. The voice and cadence sounded familiar to me, so I looked over. The man had his back to me, but I could see the woman sitting with him and knew exactly what the man’s face would look like– it was Mr. Karen’s uncle and aunt, who live about two hours away from us in Michigan. If they hadn’t added a couple days on their own before the Elderhostel they were doing the next week or if we’d picked a different hotel, we’d have missed them. If we’d gotten up just a little earlier or chosen to eat breakfast somewhere else, we’d have missed them. We sat and talked while they had their meal and made plans to meet again Sunday morning, delighted by the coincidence that had brought us together in the same city at the same time hundreds of miles from our homes.
The only thing I really, really wanted to do in Toronto besides meeting the other Suspects was go to Lush (that link is to the Lush Australia site because the Lush Canada one hurt my eyes), so we did that first thing after breakfast. There are long threads on The Usual Suspects about loving Lush and I just had to smell and feel for myself what the fuss was about. Mr. Karen tagged along, possibly just to see if I the whole thing was some sort of elaborate forum prank. It wasn’t; there really was a Lush store just a few blocks from the hotel, and I spent a lot of time sniffing all the soaps and bath bombs and shower gels and thinking things like, “ooh, that’s the shampoo bar angelika didn’t like”, or “hey, that’s the conditioner Beth used until she gave up on Lush because they kept discontinuing her favorite products”. I filled my basket with a sampling of all sorts of things and spent almost $100, but that was Canadian money and 15% of the total was taxes, so it’s not like I bought out the store or anything.
There was no way I wanted to carry my heavy Lush bag around the city the rest of the day, so we went back to the hotel. We had a great view of the Bata Shoe Museum (that’s “shoeseum” in Mr.Karen-speak) from our hotel room window, which I figured was a sign I was meant to go see inside, too. Mr. Karen decided to take a break so I walked across the street by myself and spent an hour or two looking at the footwear on display, everything from sandals from ancient Egypt to Elton John’s rhinestone covered platform boots. It was a great way to spend a little slice of the day.
When I got back to the hotel, Mr. Karen and I decided to go check out the PATH, the system of pedestrian tunnels under the city. Since this wasn’t something we’d planned ahead of time, we made the mistake of getting off the subway in the financial district, where almost nothing is open on weekends. It was eerie wandering past all the closed shops, rarely seeing other people. Lack of traffic also meant we had no one to follow when we got stuck at Scotia Plaza and briefly thought we might have to go above ground to escape. But we did find our way out and made it to Eaton Centre, which seemed especially noisy and crowded after our time in the deserted parts of the PATH. We left for the relative quiet of the subway station to plan our next move.
I talked Mr. Karen into going to a quilt shop I’d seen advertised in the tourist magazine in our hotel. One of my arguments was that it was in the general area that the pub was supposed to be, so we’d have a chance to scope out the location and find out how long it would take us to make the trip up for the official start of TorontoCon II. The quilt shop was a longer walk from the subway than I thought it would be, but we still got there with plenty of time before they closed for the day. There was a television on behind the counter, which is unusual for a quilt shop. We stopped to look and stood were stunned to see the CNN coverage of the Columbia disaster. This was the first we’d heard of it. Oddly, it was in a quilt shop in Freeport, Maine that we learned of the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Maybe I should stop making Mr. Karen come to quilt shops with me when we go on vacation.
Then, of course, there was TorontoCon, which you’ve already heard about, followed by more sleeping– darn our need to recharge– and a leisurely breakfast with Mr. Karen’s aunt and uncle. Our last Toronto outing was to IKEA (when, oh when will they come to Detroit?). There, we finally bought bookshelves to replace the plastic ones in the guest bedroom that attacked my mother-in-law last summer. Said bookcases are still in their easy to transport flat packages, so I’m not yet 100% sure that my freakishly large books will fit, and if they do, that the shelves won’t collapse under their weight, but I have high hopes.
So now I’m home and plan to stay for quite a while. I figure it’ll take one whole weekend just to catch up on the laundry and mail that’s piled up while I’ve been out gallivanting around. Maybe after that I can see about putting those bookcases together. Then it’s quite possible that I might do some housecleaning, since the dust has been piling up along with the dirty clothes and the unopened envelopes. It could happen.