Daily Archives: March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

tonight was earth hour organized by the world wildlife fund and t.o. was part of this year’s celebration ( http://www.wwf.ca/earthhour/canada.html ). it was amazing. i saw shops today with handmade signs in their window that said things like “parkdale powers down for the earth” and “toronto celebrates earth hour”. i so love toronto. they are so progressive and really care about the environment even though they’re not really the ones who are polluting the earth (that would be the americans).

sure enough, i happened to log onto google.com at 8:05 and their screen was black. it said “We’ve turned the lights out. Now it’s your turn – Earth Hour.” so i looked out my window and sure enough, the city was almost completely dark. i saw people turning off their lights in my building and it almost brought a tear to my eye. we can make a difference!! yes!

there were candlelit walks all over the city, restaurants hosting dinners by candelight, and “earth hour” parties everywhere.

some fun facts about earth hour 2008 in canada:

– 170 cities participated across the country
– canada made up 1/3 of earth hour participants around the world
– by turning off the lights for the hour, 7% of the electricity that would have been used from the grid was saved.
– 1,500,000 homes are estimated to have participated in ontario alone (i was one of them)
– nelly furtado gave a free concert at toronto city hall for earth hour

what a great event – i hope houston will try to participate next year!

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The Last Few Weeks…March 22

it’s easter weekend and the first easter that i haven’t spent with my family in quite some time. my weekend kicked off early with a trip to the “one of a kind show” in t.o. on thursday, a gigantic show at the direct energy centre full of canadian artists and artisans selling their wares (http://www.oneofakindshow.com/indexT.php ). i was in heaven. i took transit over and thought i’d only stay a couple of hours. 5 hours later, i had barely made it through the first 3/4 of the show! what amazing artists there are out there. i’m always so impressed at what people think of and actualize. it makes me want to quit my job and figure out something good to sell. i would love to go around from show to show meeting cool people and seeing cool things. i made my list of things i wanted to think about and decided to think on it.

everything is closed in toronto on holidays still so there wasn’t much to do on good friday. (as a matter of fact, the toronto city council recently voted against a proposal to allow businesses to open on statutory, or “stat” holidays here. old skool.) when i woke up, i decided to go to the imax theatre here to see “hurricane on the bayou” ( http://www.hurricaneonthebayou.com/ )at the ontario science center (http://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/ ). i decided to take the ttc and it only took about 45 minutes! i took the streetcar to the subway to the bus…and it dropped me off right at the science centre…awesome! i was so happy. what a colossal mistake to go on good friday, though. there were about 970,000 screaming children and parents and the line to get into the imax was as long as a football field. once we got in, a little kid with a plastic coke bottle sat next to me and popped the empty bottle in and out the entire time. why do parents not say anything to their kids anymore? my dad would have broken my hands off for doing that. the movie was good but i was glad it was over. i hightailed it back downtown and ordered a cheese pizza from pizza rustica for good friday dinner and popped in “michael clayton”.

on saturday, i decided i would go back to the “one of a kind show” to buy my choices and then go to high park for a stroll. yeah, right. i managed to spend another 4 hours at the show and another $400. that place is dangerous. and, everyone tells me the christmas show is double the size. wow. lots of talented people in canada! surprisingly, many of the exhibitors were from quebec and there was a ton of french being spoken. i just love that, although i have no clue what they’re saying. it’s such a pretty language. anyway, i bought some gold filagree earrings from a jewelry maker from t.o., 2 freshwater pearl bracelets from a jewelry designer from winnipeg, a a kari lynn bianchi armband that i love ( http://www.karilynnbianchi.com/armbands.php ), a really cute handmade purse from prickly pear ( http://www.pricklypear.biz/ ) and some cool “buddha bowls” that were on oprah’s favorite things list last year from the artist who lives in b.c. ( http://flavourdesign.com/portfolio.php ). i spent way too much, but i wouldn’t be able to get these things once i leave t.o. actually, i could have spent a lot more! needless to say, i didn’t make it to high park and just ended up on queen west.

on easter sunday, i woke up and decided to go eat brunch early to beat the crowds. in my quest to eat brunch at as many of toronto’s plethora of brunch places, i decided to eat at easy restaurant on queen west and roncesvalles ( http://easybreakfast.ca/ ). i had the huevos divorciados which was okay, but i probably wouldn’t go back. it started to get really crowded by the time i left, too. i ended my easter sunday by lounging on my sofa and enjoying the beautifully sunny day.

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The Last Few Weeks…March 29

the last few weeks have been fantastic in t.o. (note: toronto is referred to as “t.o.” for short and never “the t.o.” as did diablo cody). while spring is taking its sweet time getting here, we are all willing it to get here sooner rather than later by shunning our overworn fur lined winter hats and cashmere scarves in favor of spring coats and wellies sans socks.

today wasw one of those days where i was annoyed at living in canada. although i love the people here, what they say about them can be very true – they even joke about it themselves – they can be so laissez faire and bland and accepting about everything and it can really get to you, especially when you grow up in the States. an article came out this week from the university of british columbia about costs at airports around the world. pearson international (toronto’s airport) came in top for fees compared to any airport in the entire world. it’s true, too. when you fly in or out, you will pay a minimum of $100 in just airport taxes and sadly, you feel trapped here sometimes. there have been many weekends where i’ve wanted to fly out, but it really is just so expensive that you just stay put. i truly belive this is why most torontonians have never left ontario – it’s just too damn expensive. so when i was sharing this story with some of my co-workers, they were just like “oh well” and “well, i heard vancouver was expensive, too”. i’m like “no, this study was for every airport around the world and you guys just accept that you’re being completely and totally gouged by your airport?” and they just say yes. it’s been shocking to me how accepting canadians (and ontarians, more specifically since this is where i live) can be of everything that comes their way. when the government raises their taxes, they interview people on tv who are like “well, we understand that you have to maintain the level of service, so if they have to raise taxes, it’s okay”. are you kidding me? nothing might change in the states, but at least we protest and get pissed off like crazy! they literally told me “well, carmen, it’s just how things have always been here and we just accept it”. those are really the times where i truly feel like i’m from a totally different culture, and we are very different in many ways. that being said, with that “blandness” comes a niceness and caring people that is rare to find in the states anymore, in my opinion. i really love them, but it can be frustrating sometimes.

my weekend started off as usual by making my regular friday-after-work trip to walmart. unfortunately, i was already annoyed by the very slow drivers in the left lane on the don valley parkwway (left lane slow driving here is an epidemic of gargantuan proportions) as well as the parking lot that was eglinton ave. i finally made it to walmart and had to endure a higher volume of carts than i have become accustomed. people leaving their carts in the center of the aisle to search the campbell’s soup display for the chicken consomme fueled my complete loss of patience. the wheel of my old ladies grocery cart kept falling off while trying to lug my groceries in but lo and behold, i finally made it. in an effort to have a fun weekend, i had invited one of my co-workers over to watch movies in the theatre at my building. tj came over with soda, popcorn and pretzels for our movie bonanza, while i contributed pizza and bruschetta from pizza rustica. we had a great picnic and watched “gone baby gone” (great flick, although a bit depressing). we started “superbad” but it was just that – superbad. about an hour in, i could watch no more so we called it a night. that one will definitely not make my top 10. as a matter of fact, i think it will definitely make my bottom 10 instead. total guy flick.

i slept late this morning and decided to play the day by ear. i finally got myself up and dressed and left around 1pm. i returned my movies to queen video – that store is so awesome – and jumped on the streetcar heading west on queen. i was thinking i would hit roncesvalles again, but decided to stay on to see where it would take me. after over an hour on the streetcar because of traffic on queen and the sheer length of the route, i jumped off at the humber river loop and turned around. i passed high park and its still frozen lake, brand new townhomes on windermere and the queensway that i’m sure i couldn’t afford and some good photo ops that i jumped off for along the way. i got some more good shots of the streetcar cables at roncesvalles and the queensway but other than that, didn’t see any good ones. i got off at ossington to do a little exploring and by this time, it was 2:50pm. i happened by a store called “camera” ( http://www.camerabar.ca/ ) and noticed a sign in the window offering free documentary screenings on saturdays at 3pm. i thought “what luck” and “this would never happen in houston” and headed in. what a great place. i have been looking for a photography place like this since i got here. it’s attached to a photography gallery that was warm and inviting. there was a little cafe with a bar and nibbles. the entrance to camera had a fire in the fireplace and some beautiful photos. the screening room was nearly empty but right at 3pm, the documentary began. it was called Pictures From A Revolution from 1991. it was good, but with 30 minutes to go, i thought, as i usually do in movies, “oh, i’ll just close my eyes for a minute” and 30 minutes later, the lights came up. i have no idea why i fall asleep in almost every single movie i see, but i have surely lost money on that game! i just hope i wasn’t snoring.

after i left camera, i went to the lens gallery to see a photography exhibit on peru by stephen moretti. i picked up a cake at the red tea box and headed to terroni on queen for dinner. it was already packed and i picked a spot at the bar. i ordered the ssame thing as last time – the tagliatelle with bolognese sauce – which i love and the warm flourless chocolate cake for dessert. i also ordered peach iced tea and was delighted by the italian tea they gave me called santal. it was the best iced tea i’ve ever had! i chatted with the people around me about poetry and traveling and headed home. it was especially cold today although with the sun out, i didn’t think it would be, so i left my hat and gloves at home. big mistake. i was so cold that my ears started to burn. sigh. and it’s almost april.

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