June 10, 2003
It’s Tuesday, but it felt like a Monday because I had a three day weekend. I was out of synch with my coworkers because they were in yesterday and are up to speed, while I ambled in about ten after going to my mammogram a.k.a. breast squishing appointment (which really wasn’t uncomfortable, just a bit surreal to see the pancake shapes my womanly appendages achieved). I spent about an hour just catching up with my e-mail. A Friday to Sunday weekend would have been less disorienting, but that would have meant missing one of the highlights of my time off. At least I had a couple meetings this afternoon to give my brain a rest.
And what did I do with my time off? I went to Toronto. Last I checked, the World Health Organization was not encouraging that sort of thing, but I decided that the risk of getting SARS was so very small in comparison to my desire to meet Isabelle and Maya, who were both going to be gracing the city with their respective presences, that I’d go anyway. I figured I’d think positive thoughts, wash my hands a lot, and give hospitals, schools, and churches a wide berth.
Because my first engagement for the weekend wasn’t until 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon, I slept at home Friday night. I hit the road early the next morning and was so busy contemplating how the god rays (those shafts of sunlight that sometimes come down between the clouds) were a good omen that I forgot to deposit a check when I stopped at the bank to get money, despite the fact I’d stuck the envelope on the dash right in front of my face. At least it wasn’t a big check. I made excellent time on the drive and there was next to no line at the border, which was a good because I had another episode of absent mindedness as I approached Toronto. It took me an embarrassing number of kilometers before I realized I’d missed the exit for the proper freeway to take me to the hotel. “Hmm, the Ontario Science Center shouldn’t be on the way”, I thought to myself, “but I’ve been there before, so I’ll head that direction and see if I can find the hotel from there.” And I could. (Note to self: do not try to eat exotic Canadian foodstuffs such as a mint Aero bar at the same time as navigating, as those activities appear to use the same parts of the brain.)
Even though I’d taken the long way to the hotel, I had just enough time after I checked in to go to the quilt shop before the meet up. As I browsed the fabrics there, I talked with the woman running it; she seemed impressed that I hadn’t been afraid to visit Toronto and happy to have a customer (I was the only one the whole time). I found a couple fabrics I liked that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, so I bought a meter of those as well as a few small pieces of other prints. Fabric is so expensive in Canada; I couldn’t afford near the stash I’ve been able to accumulate here at home. Still, it’s important to me to support quilt shops, so I didn’t feel bad about indulging just a little. I couldn’t get too much, because I still had to walk to the restaurant for the meet up. Everyone was already there when I arrived: the aforementioned Isabelle, she of the grand tour of Europe and North America, Amy and Blake and their new baby Delphine, and Don, who for some reason does not have a website to which I can link. We went in to the restaurant and proceeded to enjoy good food and good talk. There were even presents: Isabelle had made an adorable knitted cap for Delphine, and I came with what else but a baby quilt for her (which I will write about at great length very soon), and Don outfitted us all with Toronto survival kits, complete with quality filter masks and two types of gloves.
The next scheduled engagement on my weekend calendar wasn’t until Monday morning, and I filled the hours in between with an interlude at Lush (thanks to a promotion they were having, I even got a free bath bomb), two baths to partake of the resulting bounty (one fizzy, one bubbly), two movies (Bend It Like Beckham, which I liked a lot, and The Italian Job, which wasn’t as good– any time I’m checking my watch in the theater it’s not a good sign), a trip to the zoo (which I decided upon when I saw a story on tv about how the zoo was hurting financially– the animals needed me, and my reward for visiting them was finally getting to see a polar bear swimming), and browsing at various shops looking for things I couldn’t get at home (dill pickle potato chips, anyone?). I also got to meet a very cute little dog when the hotel was evacuated Sunday night due to a false fire alarm. I felt a little guilty for not doing more touristy things instead of the movies, but it was my vacation and that’s how I chose to spend some of it. Casa Loma and the ROM will (I hope) be there for me to visit on some future trip.
The big event on Monday was finally getting to meet Maya, who’d missed the last Toronto gathering due some very unfortunate travel problems. The same crew that had gathered on Saturday, minus Isabelle, who’d moved on to her next tour stop, met up for breakfast, which meant more good food and more good talk. And more presents, as Maya had not only a bright toy for Delphine but also a beautiful cross stitched picture. After a stop at Lush on the way to get more of the Waving Not Drowning bath bombs because I’d really liked the one I used Saturday night, I got back to the hotel just in time to check out (though I found that requesting a later check out time hadn’t had any effect, since they’d already closed out my account; good thing I’d packed up before heading out in the morning). I had my final brain freeze of the trip at the duty free store at the border. I was trying to spend as much of my Canadian money as I could, and took out pen and paper to figure out what my total purchase would be, because those taxes can be quite a surprise if you’re not prepared; it wasn’t until I was at the checkout that the light bulb went on– it’s the DUTY FREE store, which means NO TAX. Man, I could have gotten the late harvest Riesling I really wanted instead of the cheaper bottle of dry Riesling. I just rolled my eyes at myself and left with a pocket full of change. It’s okay; I’ll be back someday to spend it.
One year ago, I mused about body hair. I now have three Venus razors: one for home, one for travel, and one because it’s a lovely shade of purple I couldn’t resist.