Better to light a candle…

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Even better – light a lantern or a torch. Hell, juggle that torch and set a giant paper mache sculpture on fire!

I finally broke my Kensington Market Festival of Lights (aka Winter Solstice) celebration cherry last night. (And that’s gotta be the longest cherry-popping confessional ever for me.) The weather was looking pretty dodgy, so my pals Lies and Michael and I decided to meet at Last Temptation and see if the rain was going to settle down while we had a pint. And settle it did. Around 7 p.m., we ventured out to catch up with the parade, which had already reached its destination in the park at Bathurst/Dundas. We joined the crowd, taking turns carrying the lantern I brought (hastily planned, so not on a stick and lit with a battery-operated tea light) – and craned our necks to catch a glimpse of the performance on the stage, featuring Samba Squad drummers, and a jazz band of saxophones and horns.

In the centre of the crowd was a giant paper mache sculpture of a hand holding a heart. A procession of torches appeared and circled around it. At some point, fire jugglers also appeared (though they could have been the torch-bearers too, I couldn’t see) and the sculpture was set aflame. It wasn’t a windy night, so the embers went straight into the air. The sparks shot up so fast they looked like fireworks through the smoke and cheering in the cool overcast night – the night before the daylight starts to return, on the day when daylight is shortest.

Michael said: ” Make a wish!” as we watched the hand/heart burn. It reminded me of a lyric from the Jann Arden song Good Mother: “Feet on ground, heart in hand.” It also reminded me of my key chain – a metal hand with a cut-out heart in the centre – I carry it with me wherever I go. I made a wish for love. That’s it. Just love. And that’s a lot, I guess.

We followed the band back to Augusta and Nassau, then detoured west to visit another pub (which I can’t recall the name of now). It was there that we decided that this festival should be our new annual tradition. It was a beautiful and wondrous spectacle to behold – and the atmosphere of community was palpable.

The winter solstice festivities were organized by Red Pepper Spectacle Arts, including an army of volunteers. Check them out at:


Friends, food & scenic painting

At long last, got a day off this past weekend amidst busy times at Alumnae Theatre and my office job: Saturday – and it was lovely.

After getting some chores out of the way, I accepted an invitation from my neighbours Terry and Phyllis (who live in the loft building next to my house) to join them on their patio for a late morning coffee. It was gorgeous out in the sun – and a light jacket was all I needed to feel comfy outdoors, relaxing over coffee and conversation. We were soon joined by their neighbour Randi, who shared a tall boy of a lovely Swedish cider with us; it had Elderberry in it, and tasted like champagne and flowers. Terry and Phyllis brought out some snacks shortly before I left – and the only reason I left was because I was meeting two friends for a late brunch at Zocalo.

Zocalo is run by life and business partners Paul Hardy and Heather Braaten (who I met at Alumnae Theatre) – and I met two other Alumnae pals there, sisters Catherine and Martha Spence. It was our first time having brunch there – and Catherine’s first time there, period – and we were very excited to be there, not to mention finding a time/date when we could meet. We started with mamosas (Martha and I had the version made with pink grapefruit juice – a lovely change from o.j.), then I had the squash and sweet potato soup, followed by the quiche with greens – the latter I had with a crisp Chardonnay. Relaxed dining over the course of about three hours left room for dessert; I had a feeling there was something with pumpkin and spices (I smelled the heavenly aroma  when I arrived) and the pumpkin loaf was delicious! The atmosphere is welcoming and cozy, our server was lovely – and we even got to see Paul and Heather before we left.

Zocalo’s website is still under construction, but you can get info (including press coverage) at Urban Spoon:

The rest of the day, I vegged and made a meatloaf (which I’ll be consuming this week). Saturday was a lovely, languid, relaxing oasis in some very busy times.

Part of those busy times included Friday night and Sunday on the painting crew for Alumnae’s upcoming show GuineaPigging. Not counting travel time, between the office job and painting, Friday was a 14-hour day for me; Sunday was only about seven. We got tons done – with small crews of four or five people. Check out my post on the Alumnae blog, as well as the Alumnae website, for more on that, as well as info on the play: and

Super moon

So did y’all catch that ginormous full moon on Saturday night? Man, she was beautiful! I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

Didn’t manage to see it till I was on the road, travelling back to T.O. with my sister and bro-in-law after my nephew’s 12th birthday party in Burlington. It was hanging low in the sky at that point – and it hadn’t been dark out for long. And every time I looked away, I had to look back at it again.

And you know what the craziest thing was? One of the first things that popped into my head was that it looked like a giant, glowing communion wafer.

Just goes to show ya: you can take the girl outta the Catholic Church, but you can’t take the Catholic Church outta the girl.

By any other name

Went to the Indian restaurant near my office for some lunch-time take-out and, barely in the door, I heard the owner behind the counter shout: “Beef thali to go!” to his co-worker in the back. That’s how I’m known there – “Beef thali to go.”

At the Vietnamese place near my house, I”m known as “Number 95 to go.”

For Swiss Chalet and the Thai place near my office, I tend to mix it up – and at least one of the folks at the Thai place (Ivy) knows me by my first name.

At work, I’m “Proofreader.” At the theatre, I’m “bloggergal” or “scenic artist” – at least lately. Sometimes “actor” or “playwright.”

With family, I’m daughter, sister, aunt and Godmother.

And, I imagine I’ve been called things that I can’t publish here.

At various times in my life, I’ve also been girlfriend, lover, partner.

All of these things are me – to varying degrees. Facets. We all have ’em.

My mother also sometimes calls me “Diamond in the rough.”

Snow day

Wow – so how about that snowfall we had last night/this morning?

But, as much as it would have been nice to hunker down with the cat this morning, I was on a mission. And that mission was brunch. And, as those of you who know me know – neither sleet nor snow nor … how does the rest of that go? Anyway, you get the idea.

I left extra early, since I had to get the Queen car – and surface vehicle travel can get pretty dodgy in weather like this. Literally a few meters from Queen, I missed one. Then, as I waited at the stop light, I missed a second one. Crap!

Now, normally, I’d be standing in the bus shelter on a day like this fuming over my bad luck  – not to mention the nearly half-hour wait for the next streetcar. But today there were some pretty cool fellow travellers to pass the time with: a young woman on her way to work the retail store at the Mill Street Brew pub, a young dude from Texas (but with no drawl) who was thrilled to see snow and another young woman who works at a new restaurant on King.

Conversation turned from the weather and snow – and how much more snow we used to get back in the day (and I know the folks in Ottawa, Winnipeg and even Barrie would laugh at us for even mentioning today’s snowfall) – to beer. As a method Canadians use to keep cool in the summer – especially icky sticky summers in T.O. Of course, alcohol dehydrates, so you need to drink more beer. We also talked about the fab selection of beers at Mill Street brewery. I especially like the pumpkin beer, which (alas) is a seasonal concoction and very popular, so it sells out fast.

And when the streetcar finally arrived, we went our separate ways once onboard – but we had a thoroughly enjoyable time while we waited. And so a potentially crap moment became a fun time.

And the brunch too was lovely. Catching up with a good friend over eggs and coffee.

Can’t have a much better snow day than that.

p.s. – I’ll be updating the About page today, as I realized that in my haste and excitement to get this blog up and running yesterday, I left out some stuff.