Travel Planning (A good commute….finally)

20191120_092919My evening commute, which currently is often ruined by construction delays, suffers even more in winter because the darkness that neither the streetlights nor the car headlights can penetrate, robs me of the much-needed visual distraction the scenery provides.  On a bright morning or summer evening, I can while away lots of time looking out the window.

Yesterday’s commute home was made better by a stop I made on my way to work.  I’ve been planning—or at least trying to plan a January getaway for some time.  My budget is modest and despite my independent streak, do not want to do the hostel backpacking thing or be alone all the time.  So, I’ve been looking at various companies that I have travelled with before.  Thanks to the internet, this is relatively easily done on any number of devices.  All the information is there, and booking can be done without even talking to another human being with just a couple of mouse clicks and some back finger pecking typing.  The thing is, the wonder of the whole enterprise seems a little lost that way.

Maybe it is because I am old school (hopefully not too much emphasis on old) but I prefer to look at brochures or catalogues.  I know this doesn’t bode well for the trees, but I can’t help it.  Seeing it all in front of me—the pictures, the maps, the schedules, –is somewhat akin to looking through the catalogues of my childhood.  I am full of wonder and awe.

A quick aside about catalogues.  I remember making a detailed list of all the camping equipment I was going to buy from Canadian Tire.  I scoured the catalogue, totalling up prices and adding the tax.  The catalogue was mostly black and white and relied on artist illustrations for everything except a few full-colour photograph supplemented pages.  Despite that, I loved it and devoted many hours to the task.

Getting back to yesterday.  Realizing that my brochures/catalogues were almost out of date, I decided to stop by a travel agency to get some new ones.  The last time I was at this agency, they seemed to be rationing the things and only gave me a couple and were a little difficult about it.  They gave me some regional ones—which I thought were the only things the companies issued.  I asked for several regions (Asia, Central and South America, and Australia and New Zealand.  Without prodding, she brought me out the catalogue for the whole world.  Sadly, it was not a new one, but it did make me wonder why they hadn’t given me that in the first place.

For my commute home, from the minute I sat down, I was engrossed and started dreaming of trips far and wide.  I devoured the information and virtually went page by page, cover to cover.  I considered and reconsidered so many times that my head is still spinning.  I didn’t look up until I heard the announcement for my stop.  What a great way to spend a commute.  It was so good that it was Yesterday’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in airplanes, brochure, bus, catalogue, commuting, perfect moment, plans, reading, travel, travel tips, vacation, Viva, YRT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When You Need a Break

20191118_221158.jpgIt was a day that saw me rise from an uneven sleep that featured a few too many visits from a restless cat to be considered effective. It was a day that saw me eat the heels of the bread as my toast because no one else in the house would.

It started out strongly as I managed to finish read a biography on Van Halen–pretty decent, but not a lot of depth. If you want to hear about relentless touring, drugs and alcohol, and sex with groupies, this book is for you.  I haven’t had a great year of reading on the bus, but lately, things have been picking up in that regard.

Sleep deprived or not, I had a long day of teaching. I did an okay job, but I was definitely fighting the effects for most of the day.  I certainly didn’t mail it in, but I am not sure if I was at my absolute best.

After a long commute home with a mucus cough guy in front of me that also thought the bus floor was a good place for his disgusting germ laden coffee cup. He also proved to be a bit of an obstacle as my girlfriend tried to exit the bus.  The look she gave him (death glare does not do it justice) was incredible.

I got home and had some dinner. For dessert, I decided to have a dark chocolate kitkat.   I took in a few moments of silence before devouring the bar.  .I consider this Today’s Perfect Moment

Posted in chocolate, ESL, kit kat, perfect moment, snacks, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Shawarma Sunday

IMG-20191117-WA0000I am not sure why the Shawarma has eluded me until today. I am a pretty adventurous eater and I have ventured beyond my shores many times.  Somehow, and someway, this delicious morsel has never found its way onto my plate.

If this was a secret to anyone, the post credit scene from the Avengers certainly did away with that. I have to admit it was a cool scene–not worth sitting through endless credits for, but certainly worth fast forwarding to when I inevitably purchased the Blu-ray.

I also cannot claim any kind of difficulty as these restaurants are all over the place. On my commute home from work there must be more than twenty of them.  I have just never stopped at any of them.

Needing sustenance, but not desiring to make a big deal out of it, we found ourselves at a placed called Tasty Shawarma. While the name sounds inviting, I am not sure it is memorable or likely to spawn a chain.  It was easy enough to spot last week when we were walking through the area, though.  I guess that is what made it today’s choice.  Knowing conclusively where something is usually means you aren’t going to be driving around in circles, spouting phrases like, “It’s around here someplace.” or “I could have sworn it was in this plaza.”  Also, if you happen to be out for a walk on a cold Autumn (though with the snow you would think it was winter) day, you’d like to feel confident that you won’t freeze.

After ordering, I have to admit that it was rather tasty and didn’t leave me so full that I was going to struggle to get home. Luckily for me, my girlfriend ordered the beef when I ordered the chicken.  This allowed us to share a few bites and gave me information to order the next time–yes, there will be another time–we go there.

The location was decently decorated and featured quite a few booths to sit in. I have to admit, I really like sitting in a booth rather than chairs.  Sadly, the place was rather chilly.  I don’t know why, but it seemed colder than it was outdoors.  This is definitely something unappealing as we close in on true winter conditions.

So, Today’s Perfect Moment is not merely the Shwarma, but food adventures for everyone.

Is there a food you’ve been meaning to try, but just haven’t gotten around to yet?

Posted in comfort food, dating, eating, ethnic food, food, food blogging, perfect moment, recommendations, restaurant, review, taking chances | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Humanity and Warmth on Display

IMG-20191116-WA0001I haven’t written for a few days now. It isn’t because I haven’t wanted to blog, but rather because I really want to find the right words.  I have a lot to say, but not sure I can do it justice.

My girlfriend lost her mother early this week. This is a tragedy.  Though I did not have the chance to meet her mother, I have been lucky enough to hear about her.  By all accounts she was an intelligent, funny, hardworking and earnest woman.  Her recovery from what had been expected to be a fatal stroke only proved her tenacity and strength.  She is gone too soon and she is missed.

My girlfriend, despite her belief to the contrary, is a well liked person at work. As such, many people went out of their way to offer support, wise words, condolences, deep hugs, and meals of chicken and potatoes.  Being far from home, my girlfriend has had to rely on less than her normal support network.  I hope we have been enough.

This week’s Perfect Moment is the warmth in people. I have seen it before, but each time it reminds me not only of the humanity in all of us, but also the capacity to want to help others.  Despite being in a job in which this is supposedly ingrained, it isn’t always on display.  It was wonderful to see that people could really rally for her.

 

Posted in obituary, perfect moment, sadness | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A New Cyclery in Town

20191111_155856With the snow falling, and a prediction for it to continue, I did what any normal person would do on their day off. I went to the bike shop.

A new bike shop opened up in town recently. This one came recommended by the Newmarket Eagles cycling club president.  A former Eagle is at the helm of this venture and a good cycling club never forgets one of their own.

The store is called Detour Cyclery. Ever since one of my work colleagues showed up with a t-shirt bearing the name Cyclery, I have thought it was a cool name.  To be fair, as I type this, Microsoft word does not think it is a valid word.  Maybe their denial makes it even cooler.

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I entered the shop and right away I could tell they mean business. It has a solid industrial feel to it, escaping from the boutique style of a couple of the other shops in town.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I liked it from the get go.  The prices seemed fair and the owner explained that he was going to have more bike varieties than most shops do.

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I spent some time with the owner. I am planning on getting a trainer for these winter months and was wondering what they had in stock.  I was also thinking about my cycling budget for next year and wondering what upgrades, if any, I should get.  Needless to say, like any good shop, there was time to impart a lot of information on me.  I appreciate a busy shop, but I also like it when they’ve got time to answer my questions and don’t feel the need to hard sell me on something.  Hopefully, some of what I learned has sunk in.

I didn’t want to leave, but the rest of the day was calling. I was clear, though, that getting a chance to check out a new bike shop, and get some good information was definitely Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in Aurora, bicycles, bike shop, cyclery, cycling, cycling gear, cycling shoes, cyclist case, information, Newmarket Eagles, perfect moment, shopping, snow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curiosity

grocery cart with item

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Sunday had a more leisurely pace than usual because I knew that Monday was also a day off.  Despite the cool temperatures, the complete absence of fall colours, and the smattering of snow, I took a leisurely walk with my girlfriend and poked around a bunch of stores that I would not usually enter.

Okay, as I read what I have just typed I am going to have to take that back. I enter all kinds of stores and places out of sheer curiosity.  I am always hoping that I can find something unique, or something that no one else knows about.  Sometimes, I don’t even want to buy anything, I just want to know what’s there.

I like poking around stores from different countries, odd dollar stores, and stores that seem to combine things that normally shouldn’t be combined.  You never know what you will come across.

One of my best friends says that when he goes shopping, he’s “like a surgeon.” He’s in and out of the store in the shortest amount of time.  If I am shopping, I would agree.  Though, usually, I am not actually shopping.  I am just looking around–and that can be time consuming.

Yesterday didn’t reveal any huge finds. I did manage to find the perfect travel sink stopper–because hotels don’t want you washing things in their sinks.  I found a bakery that made some delicious looking cakes, but the lack of service and the price by the pound nature of the place put me off.  I know better places.  I found some interesting shaving cream, but I am not sure it’s worth the price.

The Perfect Moment of the Day is not finding some treasure, but knowing that my girlfriend accepts this behaviour and will take part in it as well. I am okay with me wasting my time on these flights of fancy, but I wouldn’t want to drag an unwilling person on it as well.  As it was, she had a good time and she might have found a few things that she liked as well.

Does anybody else like to poke around odd shopping places?

Posted in autumn, curiosity, perfect moment, seasons, shopping, walking, winter | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The First Snowfall

Today’s Perfect Moment is not this snowfall that I had ignored during weather forecast part of my morning radio show. Instead, it is my students’ reactions to the snowfall which are the amazing part.  It happens every year, but I never fail to get a kick out of it.

In this case, I was teaching a lesson on gerunds and I heard a mild shriek from one of the students, followed by co-ordinating shrieks from the other ones, and a rumble type stampede to the windows in the classroom.

This “storm” started with a small number of flakes, making it more flurry than anything. When I looked out the large window, at first, I couldn’t see any flakes.  I had to squint, but I did finally see them.  I told myself that it always snows a couple of times before snow becomes an everyday fact of life and Winter really takes over.  I’m just not in the mood for winter yet.

As for the students, their responses were both joyous and nervous. They had no idea what would happen.  They started asking me all the questions from the “never seen snow, never been in a cold country playbook.  They asked me how long the snow would stay for.  They asked me if it was going to get even colder. They asked me if it was fun to shovel the driveway–for the record; it isn’t.

There questions, while a tad annoying, really just demonstrate how different the world is. Some of them had never seen snow before and were experiencing like children would.  They saw the beauty and they imagined the cold.  They enjoyed watching it fall, but they were too scared to go outside and get snowed on.

I don’t look forward to months of slush and wet feet, but I do appreciate seeing your first snowfall. It was Today’s Perfect Moment.

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A Brief Respite from the Noise

English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers can be a noisy lot. We might be blowing off steam about a bad class or bad student, debating grammar points, talking about our other great passion that we wish were our real job, or discussing something totally alien to the teacher’s room–because that is what we do.

I generally find it hard to do anything constructive in the teacher’s room. It’s great for conversations and it can be really funny.  It just isn’t always good for things that require deep concentration.

Today was different. Today, I found myself in a very quiet space.  It wasn’t as if everyone had gone, but I have to admit there were fewer people milling around.  Those that were, were somewhat quieter than usual.  Even the boisterous ones were having more subdued conversations.

When I started lunch, I became subtly aware of some of the background noise in the lunchroom.  There was the working hum of the refrigerator, the springy sound of the timer on the microwave, and photocopies being made in the distance.

I didn’t managed to do anything constructive and will now face a daunting pile of student writings in what I am sure will be a raucous and jocular atmosphere tomorrow. Instead, I ate my sandwich in silence, checked my blog statistics quietly, played Words with Friends in the cone of silence, and enjoyed some quiet.

It didn’t last for my entire lunch break, but it lasted long enough to make it Today’s Perfect Moment.

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Enjoying Morning

Coffee 002My morning was ruined by my commute to work. The bus was late and incredibly slooooooooooow.  I am so embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to get to work that I refuse to write it down here.  What I can tell you is that it was much longer than normal and there really seemed to be no reason for it.  Perhaps the bus driver was scared to be dicing with traffic.

My students almost rescued it with their interesting topics, but sadly the lingering cloud of the bus trip was just too large of an obstacle to overcome.

The good news is that before that, I had one of those rare weekday mornings that can produce a Perfect Moment. This is quite fortunate for me because without it, I really wouldn’t have anything to write about.

I woke early to feed the cat, but managed to fall back asleep. When I did finally struggle out of bed, my shower was warm and the coffee I made tasted great.  I took the cup to the computer room and dashed off yesterday’s piece about cycling.  The words weren’t exactly flowing, but having the chance to ponder them as I drank my coffee and alternated between looks outside the window and glances at the computer screen more than made up for it.

I didn’t have an open-ended time schedule, but I managed to make it feel that way. I didn’t rush around and I savoured every moment of freedom and still managed to get a few things done.  I don’t often get to spend my mornings that way, but I certainly enjoyed it and it certainly was Today’s Perfect Moment.

Posted in blog, blog posts, blogging, coffee, growing your blog, increasing blog traffic, morning, perfect moment, sleep, starting a blog, writing | Leave a comment

I Miss Riding My Bicycle

The rain, the cold, and some bad scheduling meant that cycling ended early this year.  I miss it.  I know I could ride in the cold, but the thought of slipping on some wet leaves and skidding along the wet pavement makes me nervous.

At the mall on the weekend, the big sporting goods store that had a decent selection of bike stuff (at boutique prices) has changed everything over to skiing.  It looked cool, but made me a bit sad.  They could have at least had a Zwift setup.

I guess I could buy a fat bike and try and become a winter cyclist.

Posted in bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, cycling shoes, exercise, perfect moment, seasons, zwift | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment