Las Vegas Preparation

Even though our flight to Las Vegas isn’t schedule to leave until 8:30pm, the day was devoured with doing lots of little pre-Vegas things. We slept in late, which didn’t help matters. Packing was next, but in order to completely pack, I had to do a load of washing. There were also a bunch of little home and administration things that needed to be done. We were also supposed to go for lunch but thankfully those plans were postponed for another day.

We left the house in the late afternoon to meet Julian for an early dinner in Etobicoke. We had Thai food and while there got the very sad news that Vincent’s grandfather had passed away suddenly and he was no longer coming to Las Vegas. Poor guy, I feel really sorry for his loss. His husband, Cam, will still be there as he’s going for a conference, but it’s a real shame he won’t be there.

We then went to Julian’s parents’ place as his dad was driving us to the airport (Julian is going to Halifax this weekend for a cheerleading competition – judging, not participating – and we coincidentally were leaving at roughly the same time. His flight has been delayed and probably won’t leave until after us now.) We had a nice chat with his folks and I did a bit of spruiking of the Thermomix to his mum. I saw the appreciative glint in her eyes. It won’t be long before she joins the cult.

We got to Toronto Pearson at about 6 and went our separate ways as we’re going to the US and he’s staying in Canada. We went up to US Border Control together, as we have a right to do, and the woman behind the counter asked how we were related. I said we were married and got attitude. I hope she gives attitude to everyone and not just gay married couples. We also got asked questions I’ve never been asked before, not exactly out of the realm of possibility, but unusual nonetheless. It was clear from her demeanour that she didn’t think much of us, and quite frankly, I don’t think much of her either.

We got through security without incident, though now it seems you can walk through with your shoes on, leave your liquids in your bag, and wear your light coat with your coins and keys in them. I don’t know what’s changed suddenly.

We had two hours to kill at the gate, which gave me a time to update my blog. Because the flight’s almost full, they offered gate-side baggage service for free so that has reduced my stress levels a bit. I’m always anxious that my carry-on won’t fit or all the spots will be taken. This way I don’t have to worry…except if it doesn’t come through the baggage carousel at the other end.

We’re boarding shortly and then our designated honeymoon in Vegas will begin. (I find it interesting that we had a wedding in Niagara and a honeymoon in Vegas. Talk about a cliche!)

Computer Problems Solved

Thursday wasn’t a very eventful day. I did more work (honestly, how did I get so busy?), sorted out some things and then listened to an hour-long online seminar, which was really irritating and not all that useful. I was annoyed I’d missed out on going to the gym because of it.

Glen was on-call again so I was left up to my own devices in the evening so I went to Adam’s and he helped me connect to the network back at home which was a great coup. We then went for dinner at a vegetarian restaurant called Fresh, which was pretty nice. I’d seen it before and wanted to go in but it was full, so I was pleased when Adam suggested it.

We had a nice dinner, chatted about a lot and before I knew it, it was 9:30. Yes, well past my bed time :) We bid each other farewell and I caught the streetcar back uptown to Spadina Station and then the subway home. I stopped in at Julian’s as he had, just that day, decided to come to Orlando with us in April and was booking his flights. Dave and Antony are going to be there too so it’s going to be a big gay weekend.

When I got home, Glen arrived shortly after and we booked our flights to Orlando which were cheaper than when I’d looked earlier in the week so we snapped them up. Best thing of all is they’re non-stop so it’s just a short two hour flight each way.

Happy Birthday To Me

I woke up on Wednesday morning to Glen excitedly wishing me a happy birthday. I had turned 32 sometime overnight. After that rude awakening, Glen went to work, and I went to work. More messages from people wishing me a happy birthday came through on Facebook which filled me with a warm glow.

I spent about five hours doing zoo work which smashed my brain a bit as I got through quite a bit. I stopped in mid afternoon and forced myself to go to the gym in the building (too cold to go over the road) so I could justify eating a little badly tonight.

Glen and I arranged to meet at the hospital after work and then go in search of food for dinner. Rather than take the 20 minute train ride to the hospital, I took the 20 minute walk through the university and around Queen’s Park to get there. I discovered a newly installed sculpture and then another that looked so well placed in its snowy garden.

Glen finished just after 5 and we walked down University Ave to Momofuku. I’m not sure why I decided we should go here. I think I expected it would be a sure bet for food quality and plus I knew it was in the area we were heading. Glen wasn’t impressed with it but made the sacrifice for me.

I thought the food was nice, though really, when you compare what we got to the price we paid, it’s overpriced and we could have probably got something just as good, if not better for a fraction of the price. Still, it was nice enough.

We had tickets to see Blithe Spirit in the evening but the show didn’t start until 8 and we were done with dinner by 6:15 so I suggested we go to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) for a quick look around. They have free entry on Wednesday nights and now that we’re no longer members, it seemed like the best time to go.

It was a chilly walk back up to Dundas St and I was glad to get inside. The place was bustling with people who, like us, were taking advantage of the free entry. We went upstairs and had a look at a Comix exhibition featuring the work of Art Spiegelman, who incidentally was the same guy who drew the Garbagepail Kids in the 70s, which I remember collecting in the 80s/90s.

After a quick look at work by the Group of 7, Glen went to the giftshop while I had a look at a photographic exhibition called Memory Unearthed. Henryk Ross took photos in the Lodz Ghetto between 1940 and 1944. He was one of the last people left in the Ghetto in 1945 and suspected he’d be killed any day so he buried his photographs, which not only contained images of propoganda but also photos of the real goings on in the Ghetto and the terrible conditions people lived under.

The most heartbreaking for me were the ones of people saying goodbye to each other before they were loaded on the train for Auschwitz and the other death camps. It was hard to take in. I didn’t see everything in detail. I didn’t stay long.

We walked down to the theatre on King St, arriving about half an hour before the show was due to start. We had good seats in the centre of the dress circle. One half of our row was completely empty. Anyway, the play was by Noel Coward and called Blithe Spirit. Honestly, the only reason we saw it was because Angela Lansbury was in it, but even so, it was a thoroughly enjoyable play, and not just for her (even though it was thrilling to see her in a live performance).

The play was a farce, which I really love, and the actors all did a really good job. The basic premise of the play is:

Researching for his new novel, Charles Condomine invites the implausible medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance. While consumed in a trance, Madame Arcati unwittingly summons the ghost of Charles’ dead wife Elvira. Appearing only to Charles, Elvira soon makes a play to reclaim her husband, much to the chagrin of Charles’ new wife Ruth. Now if he wants his latest marriage to stand a GHOST of a chance, he’d better conjure up a solution quickly. One husband, two feuding wives and a whisper of mischief in the air – who will win in Coward’s unworldly comedy?

I thought Angela Lansbury as Madame Arcati really was excellent, and her little trance dance made everyone laugh.

It finished sometime around 11 and we caught the train home. It was a great birthday.

Paddington Bear on my Birthday

Birthday cake!Tuesday was spent doing more work, and also going to the dentist’s. It’s such a different experience to going to the dentist back home. There, you’re usually in and out in 20 minutes, if that. Here you spend about 30 minutes with a dental hygienist who does a thorough clean of your teeth, and then the dentist comes in for about three minutes to ask if you’re doing ok, and that’s it.

I felt a little sad having to tell them that I couldn’t make a booking for another six months because I’ll be in Australia. This is one of the first time’s I’ve had to acknowledge it in any concrete way. It’s a little sad.

Luckily, I started receiving birthday messages a day early, which cheered me up. This continued intermittently throughout the day, and then picked up more in the evening as people in Australia woke up.

Glen was on-call in the evening so I went out for Julian who spoiled me a lot. I went down to his apartment at about 7 and he’d bought me a cake (a whole cake!) with candles that have flames that burn different colours. He also gave me some Abercrombie and Fitch cologne so now I smell like all the boys. We didn’t get time to eat any cake as we then went down the road to Blake House, a pub on Jarvis St that I’d seen before but never been in.

We had a pretty decent dinner and a couple of glasses of wine and some good conversation until it was time to head to Yonge-Dundas to go see Paddington at the movies. Rather strangely for a kids’ movie, there was a screening at 9:20pm. Unsurprisingly there were only four other people in the cinema watching the movie.

I’d been a little hesitant to see the film as I’m a big fan of Paddington Bear and knew there wasn’t really a way they could translate the books/stories into an hour-and-a-half long movie that would be engaging for today’s audiences. Still, with my expectations set low, I settled in and hoped to be entertained.

I actually really enjoyed it. Yes, the story and characters were modified somewhat, and Mr Gruber didn’t have all that big a role in it, but on the whole it was a lot of fun. I laughed out loud quite a bit (a lot more than the others). It was crammed full of English actors including Jim Broadbent as Mr Gruber, Julie Walters as Mrs Bird, and Peter Capaldi as Mr Curry.

Paddington himself was also quite adorable (and then reading that he was voiced by Ben Whishaw I fell even more in love…though that could be a bit wrong). Either way, I had a great time and left feeling pretty good.

We got home sometime after 11 and I headed off to bed. It was a great birthday treat and I felt very lucky to be so spoiled.

Officially married (in Canada)

Gym-spirationMonday morning I made a few phone calls that I had been meaning to make for a while to people in the UK. First I called Millie who hadn’t been well for some time, and I was very relieved when she picked up the phone. Though she’s still not 100%, she said she was doing better than she was. I told her that we’re probably coming to the UK in May (just before Eurovision) so she’s excited about seeing us. Me too, as it’ll be the first time she’s met Glen.

I then called my mum’s friend, Joanna, as it had been a while between emails. It was nice to hear her voice as usually everything is done by written communication. We had a good catch up and a lot of laughs.

And after I hung up the phone, my grandmother called so we had a bit of a chat. The phone line isn’t the best but it was still nice to hear from her.

Most of the rest of Monday was spent on work. I’m doing two days per week with the zoo back home, which is great for the bank balance and for getting back into the swing of things. Certainly stretching the creative muscles. I also did some other work for another client before heading off to the gym over the road, nearly freezing to death in the process.

On my return I checked the mail and found our marriage certificates waiting for us. I know it’s just a piece of paper, but there’s something pretty wonderful about this legal document that I never thought I’d get. To me, it speaks of acceptance in this country…and comes in stark contrast to Australia’s increasingly backward position on the subject.

In the evening we went to Julian’s to watch the Oscars in fast-forward. We’d seen an hour and a half of it the night before but went to bed because it got late (and it was boring). Julian had recorded it and so we zoomed through most of it, watched Lady Gaga’s excellent Sound of Music tribute and then…the recording stopped well before the end. Julian was very annoyed.

IceFest and a Birthday Party

It snowed a LOT on Saturday. We pottered around a bit in the morning before braving the snow to go grocery shopping. As Glen has blogged, doing non-fun stuff in the snow is a hassle. Getting to the shops takes longer and involves a more circuitous or dangerous route. There are big snow banks on either side of the road so you have to climb up them before you can go down them. And then, when you dash across the road, you’ve got to be extra careful not to slip in the sludge in front of a car you didn’t see coming. It’s even less funny when you’ve got a shopping cart with you.

But we made it to the shops and bought a tonne of stuff for my birthday party that evening. We perhaps should have tempered our buying a bit as when we paid for our groceries, we filled up the cart as well as four shopping bags. One of the exciting purchases we made was a small bottle of Angostura Bitters. Outside of Australia no one’s heard of a lemon, lime and bitters. Bec and I were talking about it the other day so it was a surprise to find bitters in the supermarket. I bought lime cordial and 7UP too.

We headed home through the snow which was now coming down sideways. Glen was loaded up with three of the bags, while I had the shopping trolley and another bag. I had the easier end of the bargain. When we got home, we realised we’d definitely bought too much stuff to fit in the fridge. Luckily, the balcony doubles-up as a fridge so we stored a few things out there.

I prepared a couple of dishes such as French onion dip and chicken meatballs, as well as a couple bottles of frozen strawberry vodka. With a few things left to buy, we decided to leave the house again, braving the snow, and check out Icefest.

Icefest 2015

Icefest is a little street festival put on by the Bloor-Yorkville businesses to promote their wares and get people looking at the rich part of town. The special features though were the ice sculptures, including ice carving demonstrations. It had taken us a little while to trudge over to the area as the footpaths were thick with snow. We watched a little bit of the ice carving, bought a hot chocolate, and checked out the rest of the ice sculptures. The theme was ‘Frozen in Time’ so there were a few monuments and a lot of Egyptian and Aztec/Mayan themed sculptures.

We didn’t stay very long as unless you’re skiing in the stuff, falling snow isn’t that conducive to standing around and looking at things. My camera was getting wet too. So we dropped off some Nespresso pods for recycling and then heading down to Bulk Barn to buy a few more things for the party.

Bulk Barn is a dangerous place to go. They sell everything in tubs so you can choose exactly how much of whatever you want. It sells everything from herbs, spices, and flours, to nuts, dried fruit and soup mix. It also sells a lot of chocolate and lollies. Apart from the sesame seeds and hazelnuts which I needed, we also bought two lots of M&Ms, Cookies ‘n’ Cream Hersheys Chocolates and some gummi bears. We had to leave before we bought more.

From there it was a quick stop at Loblaw’s for lunch and to buy bread and sushi. We decided to walk home. It wasn’t snowing so hard by that time but the walk home was arduous. We were hot and worn out by the end of schlepping through that snow. I think perhaps the novelty has worn off (though I still get a bit of a thrill looking out the window and seeing the snow. Just not so keen about going out in it.)

Because of all the food we were going to be eating (and the drinking) that night, we went to the gym in the condo for a while and worked on shoulders. I’m glad we went. It also tired me out for a nap when we got back. I finished making dukkah and then went to bed for a couple of hours.

Celebrating My 32nd

After one last tidy up and laying out of the food, we were ready for our first guests to arrive. Ur and Israel arrived first, which was nice as we got a chance to catch up one-on-one. They gave me a bottle of wine and an iTunes gift card which will certainly be put to good use. Cam and Vince arrived next, and then the neighbours shortly after, with Jose coming around 9.

Drinks were served, food was eaten. There was probably a little bit too much sushi but at least no one went hungry and there wasn’t an excess that we had to throw out a lot. People chatted, fun was had. We had cake that Bec made which had a chocolate-type fudge base and a chocolate meringue on the top. It was delicious.

I then opened the rest of my gifts. Subway station magnets from Cam and Vince (they’re like Glen’s badges but these ones are magnets and will go great on our fridge when we get home). A new game from Pete and Royden based on the Archer TV show (I’m sure it’ll be very inappropriate). Marco and Eliano bought me a Roots beanie which I love. And Bec and Al also gave me a game called Telestrations which is like Chinese whispers but with drawing. We played it and it was hilarious.

For example, you choose a word, write it down in your pad, turn the page and draw it. Then you pass it to the next person who has to write down what they think the drawing is of then flip the page and pass it to the next person, who has to draw the word, and so on until the pad gets back to you. Each person then goes through their pad showing what the word was originally and then the different permutations. Out of three rounds with eight people each round, I think there were only four whose words came back correct. There were a lot of laughs.

The party started to wind down about ten or so. Alastair had a bad back and was a real trooper for staying as long as he did. Ur and Is had to return to the kids and gradually people drifted away into the night. It was a great party.