You are currently viewing archive for June 2010
Posted By SkatingPj

Slam Planting?  The term I use to describe my annual foray (or descent as I like to say) into the world of gardening.

As we have already established:  I am a city girl.  What you may not know is that I am a city girl who loves the great indoors.  I especially love the indoors in the summer when it is hot outside.  I HATE the heat.  It may be that from a lifetime of being in a rink I am not used to it, regardless, the outdoors is best enjoyed in October.

It has been a sweltering couple of weeks in Toronto and I was able to finally take advantage of the cool temperatures over the last few days in order to get my (Spring) planting done.

I am fortunate in that my planting is restricted to a few pots and containers here and there and the rest of my gardening is dedicated to strategically placed pine bark chips.  (I sometimes go bananas and also buy cocoa shells but only because they smell delicious and are also already dead - no additional responsibility or guilt)

My first step is to wait for the prices to drop significantly at the local plant buying place.  Once that happens, usually the last week of June, I head out - armed with about 20 bucks.  Once at the plant buying place I walk around aimlessly for a while looking for some kind of inspiration.  I will be honest:  this is usually price-driven but occasionally, and this was one of those years, if I have been in a supermarket checkout for too long looking at magazines, I might go with a "colour scheme".  I put "colour scheme" in   " marks because if you were to drive by my house it isn't much of a scheme at all.  

I was going for a English Country Garden kind of look in my 5 pots and one hanging basket, but I got distracted.  I saw a rack of plants that had me at "CLEARANCE" - my  kind of flowers!    I bought some pink ones, some red ones and a couple that look sort of like lettuce and because I really wanted the colours to "pop"  I bought some white ones too!  (As an aside - I really hate the term "pop" - especially when it refers to anything decorative.  I used it here because I wanted to be able to convey my total lack of gardening enthusiasm - an annoying term for an annoying pursuit I say)

Does it really matter what kind of plants I bought?  Not to me.  They aren't going to be around long enough for me to become attached much less be on a first name basis.

I do my best but, in the case of gardening, it isn't anywhere near good enough.  I do have to say I have made progress though - the plants have made it to their final resting place in my front yard. There are some years I forget the flat in the back of the car or under the porch. This year, they have also made it through their first three days!  I may be on a roll. 

In case you thought I was a complete Neanderthal, (no offence to the Geico Insurance guys)  I did leave the little tags planted beside the flowers  that come with the plants. This will remind me and everyone else that I actually "planted" this year.  I also left the tags French language side out - to show my continental sensibility.

How much longer til Fall?!?

Posted By SkatingPj

I have a small Toronto home.  There is a family (mine) that lives in this home which includes 2 dogs and 2 + 1 + 1 kids.  In case you are wondering about the number of kids - here is the "new math" explanation:  2 kids are living at home presently + 1 kid who is currently in Africa + 1 more (god)kid who is with us temporarily til she can move into her first apartment.

Every year at this time, I put together a list of projects that I want to try and tackle.  This list varies from year to year but this year included re-doing my "sun porch."  In a moment of inspiration I thought it would be great to have the room painted.  I have this idea in the back of my mind wherein the sunporch is transformed into a small sanctuary of sorts where I can come and sip flavoured coffee and read the paper in some sort of fluid yet flattering lounging pyjamas.  Of course they keep forgettting to deliver the papers and I am not all that crazy about flavoured coffees - and there is no such thing as fluid AND flattering lounging pyjamas - but one hill to climb at a time.  Painting this teensy room is today's hill.

I was walking through a local shopping mall last week with my Mom and we came across a booth in the center advertising painting services for $189 per room (with some restrictions and exceptions.)  Perfect! I approached the woman in the booth about the special and she said that it could all be explained to me at an in-home "consultation".  In a moment of lunacy and clearly against my better judgement, I agreed to an appointment.

Promptly at 10am on Monday the estimator arrived, or as I like to call him the P-estimator (or P-Esty for short).  He took a cursory glance at my sun porch and commented on the 4  windows, screen door, french doors and front door - all in a room that is probably 7 by 9 feet.  In other words, not a lot of wall and therefore not a lot of painting. 

So P-esty asked me if there was anything else and I thought since he was here why not have him take a look at the rest of the main floor.  His first mistake was walking into my family room and commenting that "with a room this small you should never use a dark colour" - my back went up a little.  First of all my family room is the "big" room in my house AND I really love the warm golden yellow colour on the walls.  He started to flip through his stack of colours to show me what should be on the walls and as he headed to the whites and off-whites, I said in a way that was reminicent of the most petulant three-year old  "I LIKE COLOUR!" 

He realized he may have stepped in "it" and said "well if you want to live this way...." <lol>

So, then came the moment of truth: "I don't even need to measure the sun porch to estimate."  I said "Great"  He said:  "It would cost $1,400."  I said :"WHAT???!!"  He looked surprised (not as much as I was I can assure you.)  He said: "More than you thought?" "Um...well . YES...only because your flyer said $189!!!"  He said "Oh"

I wonder what the exceptions were - was it that mine is a house for humans and not dolls?

Truth be told, P-Esty did me a favour.  With the $1,400 I saved - I may be able to make the French Riviera yet.

In the meantime - if you feel like painting - lie down til the feeling goes away. 

The solution to my sun porch problem came in a gin and tonic, a new throw rug and a couple of toss cushions. 

It looks like a brand new room - especially when you walk through it quickly!

Posted By SkatingPj

I am sure that Oprah's life is cool and all, and she gets to go to lots of places as a VIP.Today though it was my turn.  I was a VIP at a celebration in Ilderton, Ontario for Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and hometown hero Scott Moir.  It was a remarkable afternoon and evening.

Ilderton is a village not far from London, Ontario and boasts a population of about 1,400, and the celebration included a parade on the main drag, a presentation in the arena and then a community celebration on the fairgrounds.   I was told that there was not a business in this small town that had not participated in some way by either donating money, services or time. 

Sadly I missed the parade but was delighted to be part of the packed house on hand in the arena for the special presentations.

What made them special was the "love in the room".  There wasn't anyone who had been a part of their journey who wasn't acknowledged.  Coaches Paul MacIntosh, Suzanne Killing, Becky Babb and John Briscoe were singled out as the ones who gave this team their foundation.  Marina Zueva and Igor Shpillband along with Jonny Johns were given credit as the ones who had brought them to Olympic greatness. 

All around me, stories of a young Tessa and Scott and "where were you when you first saw them?". Valerie Jones Bartlett, herself a Canadian champion remembers being the technical director for the Western Ontario Section and coming to see them for the first time.  Paul MacIntosh asked them to perform their number and when they finished she recalls with a laugh Scott saying: "Mr Mac, there was a beat in there that I didn't use."   I reminisced with biggest brother Danny that I saw Tessa and Scott for the first time in Ilderton when I was there with Ice Nightmare for a show about 11 years ago.  I remember  watching them through the curtain and saying to Danny that as much as I thought he was a great dancer, baby brother Scott was going to be nipping at his heels pretty soon.  Even then their talent was huge.

Family, friends and Skate Canada were acknowledged but the night  really belonged to the people of Ilderton. 

So many groups that had played a part in the Tessa and Scott story were represented: from Scott's school - The Oxbow Public School choir, dressed in red t-shirts that said "Oxbow Believed" with the Olympic rings and 2010 on them, sang O Canada as well as the Olympic song Believe.   Scott's grandfather made a presentation to the two as part of the Canadian Legion - it was very touching. There were the young winners from the town's Olympic poster contest who were called up and got their picture taken with the Champions. The four parents: Alma and Joe Moir and Kate and Jim Virtue got up and the dads had the chance to speak.  I had to laugh when Jim said that 15 years ago the Virtue girls, Jordan and Tessa were going to skate in Ilderton over the summer as a break from gymnastics. He said it was for fun. "They weren't going to compete" Jim said with a chuckle.  That didn't last long.

Everywhere you looked you could see the pride on people's faces and through it all Tessa and Scott smiled and were gracious and humble.  It was a personal celebration in very different ways for all concerned with everyone getting to relive the moment  they knew these two had become Olympic champions.  Seeing their performances on 2 large screens was a great way to relive Vancouver. Spontaneously, the crowd was on its' feet cheering the replay of the free dance and singing O Canada along with Scott and Tessa on the podium.  Some moments never get old.

It felt like an occasion from a bygone era in the nicest possible way. An era where families stuck together and neighbours were there to help. 

Oprah - you missed a great party!

Posted By SkatingPj

South Africa is front and foremost in my mind for a couple of reasons:  The FIFA World Cup and my daughter Amanda who arrived there a week or so ago to help a family out with childcare. 

First up:  the FIFA World Cup - I am watching the games out of the corner of my eye with my son Peter and am really impressed by the features and the stories that are presented on TV about the player and the places. Makes me think I would like to go there one day.

I am trying to make the World Cup a total "mother/son bonding experience".   What Pete and I have talked about is maybe cris-crossing Toronto during the tournament; going from eating/drinking establishment to eating/drinking establishment along the lines of teams that are playing. So, Korea won their game today against Greece, so maybe next stop is Korea Town to watch their next game.  Am secretly hoping that either Spain (Peter's favourite) or Italy make the final - there are some really good eating/drinking establishments in this town devoted to yummy Tapas or Pasta, either of which makes soccer a lot more interesting!

Secondly: - South Africa in general -Amanda was originally coming home from Africa at the end of May but has enjoyed her time there so much, that she is staying for a while longer.  We have the chance to be in touch via email and MSN messenger and my new found friend SKYPE.  I am still in total awe of the technology that allows me to be in such close contact with a loved one so far away.

I am a city girl.  I like concrete under my feet and chlorine in my water and conditioning in my air.  I am old enough to no longer have to pretend that I would like to go camping.  I wouldn't.  It is therefore amazing to me to have raised not one but two daughters who are the complete opposite.  Amanda in Africa is having the sort of adventure that I love reading about from the comfort of my kitchen with a coffee. 

I am trying my best to be supportive and encouraging but I have to admit, at times, it isn't easy.  Take her recent email which included three pictures. One picture of her tow friends Jimy and Ben and one of Ben's little sister and brother.  I have to say that she is the subject of a lot of curiousity among many young children that she has met.  Ben's little brother was a typical example.  He cried in fear when he first met her.  To him, she is strange looking - her skin colour is not what he was used to and neither is her long soft light brown hair.  She was able to make friends with the help of a lollipop and the picture shows a happy little boy.  He was hearbroken when she left a few hours later and was sobbing unconsolably in his mother's arms at last sighting.  Apparently Amanda has lots of small children running up to her; shyly touching the skin on her arm or touching her hair.

The third picture is of a lion!??!!!  A LION!!!  I phoned her to ask her just how close she was to the lion.  The reception was very poor  and we got cut off so she sent me a text: "Don't worry abt calling the recep is too bad and I am not allowed to wander outside cuz of rhinos and leopards. I'll talk to you tomorrow or so xo"

This is written with apologies to my own mother who is learning about not only lions but rhinos and leopards for the first time as she reads this.

See what I mean?  Just when you think it can't get more complicated - I want to see the parenting book that prepares you for the lion picture or the leopard/rhino text message not to mention coming together and coping with the World Cup marathon.


Posted By SkatingPj

Lats night, I was the PA announcer at BMO Field in Toronto for the final game of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.  The game was between Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

As the winning team, Toronto FC gets to go on an compete in the Champions League Series of CONCACAF.  I know we are supposed to be on top of the "whole soccer thing" with the impending FIFA World Cup taking centre stage in South Africa starting next week.  The truth of the matter is, distracted as usual, I don't really have all of my soccer tools lined up in my head and will wait for CBC's Brenda Irving to get to South Africa and stat de-mystifying it for me (and lots of you!)

Here's the deal - I am thrilled to be able to announce soccer in Toronto from time to time, having cut my "announcing" teeth at the FIFA U-20 Men's World Cup, but there are aspects that I still find mysterious.

For instance:  Why do the goal keepers have to wear different outfits from the rest of the guys?  It wouldn't be so bad if they had at least one colour that at least matched their team mates uniforms.  I find it confusing.

I also want to know if they have to get the giant-sized gloves, necessary for catching the ball, at an "Athletic, Long and Lean but with HUGE Hands" men's store?

I have to admit, coming from a solo sport like figure skating is a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to observing team sports.  In Soccer, everybody is "picking up the ball" (er...kicking the ball) for the common good.  They are relying on each other to do something in tandem that furthers their objective of scoring a goal.

Even in figure skating's team discipline, Synchro Skating, you would never hear them yelling at each other: "Helen, you go and do the twizzles."  After which Helen says: "Melody and Francine, break out in Ina Bauers while we re-group for the Open Block."  Even in Synchronised Skating, the skaters are keeping their sights on their own work, and on doing the same things together and at the same time.

Regardless of the team sport - the goal is the same - to win.

What I will say is the soccer fans in Toronto rock!  I am not sure we would get any figure skating fans in today's day and age, coming to the rink in the pouring rain to watch a competition.  First of all, for some (like my Mom's friends) their knitting would get wet .The fans at BMO Field, to my complete astonishment, showed up in droves -all 15,176 of them!  Now that I think of it.  The fact that beer is for sale during Soccer games might have played a small part in the tenacity of the fans. Hmmm. I wonder.

The other thing that I find a little intimidating is that the fans all seem to know the "songs" and accompanying choreography.  There are so many times during a game where these random groups erupt in music and dance. (Ok - not dance exactly - more like rhythmic shuffling - but still - A+ for effort.)  Where do they learn that stuff?  How did I miss it?  Is it too late for me?  It does look like a lot of fun.

Maybe I will start my own skating songs?  "If you're happy and you're jumping clap you hands" as a start. about ..."Twinkle, twinkle, little sit spin"?  I know.  it needs work.

My book got finished TODAY!  Just in time.  Starting next week, I will be watching soccer on TV and, privately, start to try and learn some "songs"

My son says Spain is going to win.





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