Archive for the ‘Things I whole-heartedly and unreservedly like’ Category


Hi! Did you miss me? I haven’t written since February because I had a baby (more on that later) and have been rather busy since then.

I wrote a whole post shortly after giving birth on what the experience was like but haven’t decided yet if I’m going to put it up, since I don’t know if I want the gory details alive on the net for ever and ever amen, but in a nutshell:

– It really hurts.

– Especially if you do it at home without pain relief like I did.

– I mean really, REALLY hurts. No joking. Seriously the most painful thing ever by the end of it.

– But it was totally OK.

– In fact, better than OK, it was totally awesome.

– I was also lucky in that onset of active labour –> birth was around 9 hours, not 18-24 like it is for some people. I had about 18 hours of inactive labour, though, which is more annoying than anything else. That made the whole “no pain relief” thing a lot easier to deal with than it might have been.

– And babby was 7 lbs 13 oz, not the behemoth I’d feared.

– And it was a boy! We named him Cecil.

– He looks like a tiny clone of Ben, only with beautiful slate-blue eyes.

– He too is totally awesome.

– In spite of the crying and the poo.

– Poo is a much bigger part of my life now than ever before.

– But I don’t mind.

– In fact if I had to break down early motherhood into a pie chart, it would be 50% breastfeeding, 25% poo, 10% cuteness, 10% laundry, and 5% screaming.

– In fact I think I’ll do just that:


– I have taken about a million pictures of this infant since he was born, as you will know if you follow me on Twitter. I will not post all of them now because I’ve just gotten a new computer (hooray!) and haven’t uploaded my pictures yet. I’ll stick to just one:

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Tonight I went to “Walk on Water”, a recital of saxophone/cello music put on by Contact Contemporary Music. This isn’t a review of the concert (tomorrow’s post!), except to say that it was really good and I’m really glad I got off my butt and went. Which is good, because I biked all the way across town to go.

You may not know this, but one of the stranger effects pregnancy has on the human body is to make your sense of smell better. Seriously, I feel I could give Gus a run for his money in the sniffing department. So as I biked along Dundas from the Beaches to Sorauren, I noticed a wide variety of scents and odours, part of the rich olfactory landscape of our city.

Here are the ones I remembered enough to write down before the concert started:

Dundas and Coxwell: the lake with a faint undertone of sewage

Dundas and Pape: dust; a sort of powdery chemical smell, like when an airbag goes off

Dundas over the DVP: exhaust, vegetation, water

Dundas and Yonge: more exhaust, hot dogs, despair

Dundas and Spadina: fish, teriyaki, an unmistakable but fleeting whiff of body odour

Dundas and Euclid: lumber

Dundas and Bellwoods: barbecue sauce

Trinity Bellwoods Park: pollen

Dundas and Ossington: inexplicably, paper

Dundas and Dovercourt: sewage, quite strongly

Dundas and Landsdowne/over the bridge to Sorauren: you’d think CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE, because of the factory, but tonight nothing but clean night air.

Tomorrow I will try to make a Google Maps mash-up of this – if I can figure it out, I’ll post it here.

Edited to add: I did make a Google Map of this. Here it is!

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Here’s something I didn’t know:

Activity/Fatalities Per Million Hours

Skydiving –  128.71

General Aviation –  15.58

On-road Motorcycling –  8.80

Scuba Diving  –  1.98

Living (all causes of death)  –  1.53

Swimming  –  1.07

Snowmobiling –  .88

Automobile Driving  –  .47

Water Skiing  –  .28

Bicycling  – .26

Flying (domestic airlines) –  .15

Hunting  –  .08

First of all I’m a bit surprised that motorcycling is so dangerous and hunting so safe, but the big surprise is:

Automobile Driving –  .47

Bicycling  – .26

Cycling is actually *safer* than driving!

And before you say “Well, that’s because people drive more than they bike!”, remember that this statistic is deaths per million hours. The denominator IS the amount of time people spend doing the activity, so that criticism is totally untrue.

I suppose that, if cycling replaced driving as the default form of transport (a vain hope that one is!), we would get a lot more bicycle-bicycle collisions. Casual googling does not uncover fatality rates for this kind of collision, but  I would imagine that, due to lower speeds and relative equality in weight between the two parties, that injuries would be less severe and fatalities fewer than with bicycle-car collisions.

Maybe there’s data from Holland or China or something.

Anyway. I feel like printing that chart out and showing it to people whenever they tell me to be careful on my bike. Who knew, when I failed to get my driver’s license and make the kind of money that would pay to run a car in Toronto, I was actually making a rational decision for my own safety!

h/t EcoVelo 

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I was planning on going to the Friendly Rich gig at the Cameron House tonight, but I had a blood test today (yay pregnancy!) and they took FIVE VIALS OF BLOOD and I feel almost as good as the one and only time I donated blood. That is, dizzy and exhausted and generally awful. So I stayed home and watched American Movie on Netflix.

It is alternately hilarious and heartbreaking. I totally, totally, totally sympathize with Mark Borchardt in his quest to make art on a limited to non-existent budget with limited to non-existent skills (though some of the shots they showed from “Coven” are striking). I totally, totally, totally sympathize with the constant delays, the last-minute emergency editing, and the doing of lots of things you don’t really know how to do yourself because you don’t know anyone who does and you can’t afford to pay anyone.

Listen. Dude wanted to make movies. And he made/makes movies. I don’t know if Coven was/is any good, because I don’t know where/how to watch it. But whether it’s an awesome underground classic or the prequel to “The Room” doesn’t matter. Yes, Mark Borchardt is a high school dropout with a strong Wisconsin accent, a mullet, an ex-stoner brain-damaged guitar virtuoso best friend, a drunk uncle, and a lot of rage. But he also had a dream and, in spite of his family, social, and financial problems, he went for it.

So watch “American Movie”, then write to Netflix and tell them to put “Coven” on Watch Instantly as well.

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As I know you are all consumed with curiousity as to why I have been light on the blogging and tweeting and podcasting lately, why I have been living the life of a tuberculosis patient in a sanitorium in the Swiss Alps, why I have been mostly hanging out at home and doing very little, I have decided to Tell All. About two weeks earlier than I meant to, but oh well.

The big secret: I am pregnant.

I think it looks a bit like a teddy bear!

I was intending to wait until 12 weeks to go fully public about it (though lots of people know already, since I had to tell anyone working on a project with me, and Ben told a bunch of his friends already), but it’s 10 weeks now and the ultrasound shows 4 legs, a heartbeat, and a head, so I figure it’s OK to spill.

This is rather an all-consuming thing, as you can imagine if you’ve never done it yourself, so you can see why I wasn’t eager to blog when the number 1 thing on my mind was off-limits. Also early pregnancy feels a bit like a mild hangover plus terrible PMS. I was lucky and didn’t have any vomiting, but I felt absolutely drained all the time until quite recently. I’m still taking it easy, partly because it’s A MILLION DEGREES outside and about 500,000 in here, partly this is pretty much the last downtime I’ll get before the kid hits junior kindergarten.

Anyway, as a pregnant lady who writes stuff on the internet, this is my pledge to you:

– I will not live-tweet giving birth.
– After the baby is born, I will not write anything about poo, unless it’s really funny.
– I will keep ultrasound pictures to a minimum.
– I will not replace my avatar with an ultrasound.
– I will not start writing in baby talk.
– I will not regale you with the gory details of my symptoms or medical visits. Unless, of course, it’s really funny.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go knit a squid hat.

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You all know Gus, right?


Yes, THAT Gus. Gus the Beagle-Basset. In case you don’t, let me tell you more about him.


Gus has a few problems. When we got him at 6 months, he was overweight and had almost no training (including house-training…that was fun). He didn’t make eye contact with people. He had separation anxiety and would howl in the most heart-breaking way when we left the house. He had to be fed in a separate room from Madeline and confined until she was finished eating, or else he would attack her and steal her food.

Still life with Gus and pumpkin

Unlike Madeline, who is a very bright dog and a quick learner, Gus was (and is) very slow to learn new things. It took him a long time to learn not to pee in the house. It took him a long time to learn a routine that would allow him to eat in the same room as Madeline without incident.

It took him a long time to learn that, when we left the house, we were coming back.

I don’t know just why Gus is, to put it charitably, a bit slow. Probably a combination of poor maternal nutrition, early puppyhood neglect, and maybe a few kicks to the head. Because he’s a rescue dog we don’t have any way of finding out. But I do know that, even though it took a while and he’ll always have some issues (he still needs to follow a food routine and he’ll always be a bit chubby), he’s become a wonderful, loving, fun dog. And I wouldn’t trade him in for the smartest Bagel Hound in the world.

Mostly because I already have the smartest Bagel Hound in the world.

So what’s the PSA? Did I write this just to wax sentimental about my slightly developmentally delayed dog, or do I have a point?

It’s this: It’s spring. I’ve been seeing lots of new puppies in the dog parks. And if you’re thinking of getting one – maybe you promised your kids that if they do well on their last report cards they get a puppy, or maybe you’re taking up running and want a dog to go with you, or maybe you just want a dog – don’t go to a breeder and get a $2000 puppy. Go to Petfinder or your local shelter and get a Gus.

Sure, there will probably be issues. But you can work through them – we did with Gus – and there will be issues with any dog you get. And at least when you get a Gus you know you’ve saved a living creature from a painful life and a pointless death.

I feel that way too sometimes

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So today. In numbers:

Woke up at

– 7 AM. Would be OK if I had gone to bed before

– 1:30 AM. So have to get through the day on

– 5 hours of sleep, starting with sending

– about 10 important emails about

– a zillion important things I’m juggling, then practicing

– around 12 quite difficult new pieces for

– 1 extremely long rehearsal that happens at

-10 AM tomorrow (I know!), then teaching for

– 4 1/2 hours not counting travel time, which involved

– about 30km of biking in

– -10C to -20C weather…

…And all made better by:

– one Tim Horton’s caramel apple fritter.

Yes. My last student gave me a donut. And that made everything awesome.

So now you know: if I’m tired or blue or just having a rough day, you don’t have to give me a back massage or buy me a present or pay me lavish compliments.

Just get me a donut. It seems to work.

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