Sunday, July 31, 2011

MY MY Migraines

Be careful what you wish for. I had looked forward to doing nothing on Saturday. But, rather than choosing my leisure activity, I was forced into a dark room with the air conditioning blowing on my face.

I got a migraine Friday night. I was out with Bill and had no medication. I asked the bartender for some headache meds and he gave me some Advil. Of course, it did nothing. I left the dinner party and drove to Walgreen's (it's on the way home). It closed just as I got there.  At 10:00 p.m. What kind of a closing time is that? A car full of Minnesotans were equally disappointed. They asked me if I was "local" and if I knew if there was a 24 hour Target or Walmart close by? (because that's fun on a Friday night)

 "24 hour ? Do they do that?" I asked.  They assured me that some did.

I told them where the nearest Target was located (I'm presently boycotting Walmart), got into my car, sans drugs, and told myself that I could probably sleep through the pain.


I woke up with a pinpoint headache behind my right eye. Occasionally it would radiate above that eye and then wander down my jaw and behind my head (at the neck). But, always that sharp pain behind my right eye.

Finally, morning came and I got up out of bed. It was such a gorgeous day that I decided (a) a  walk would do me good; (b) a Tim Horton's coffee would help; and (c) a stop a Walgreen's for some medication would be in order. And, Bill was up for a stroll.

The pain seemed to dissipate a little as we walked. I had my dark glasses on and I did not need to talk, as Bill kept the conversation going.

I dipped into Walgreen's, got my pills and downed them with a bottle of water that I had carried for that specific purpose. Then, it was on to Tim Horton's. Ahhhhhhhhh. You know how I feel about that coffee.

After we arrived back home, I cleaned the kitchen half- heartedly as I was beginning to feel nauseous and a little jittery. I started to sort some laundry on the bed and decided that the laundry needed to stay in the basket and I had to get onto the bed. I was dizzy, and dis-associated from the rest of my body.

Every so often I would play a Scrabble word on my iPhone as long as I shut my right eye.
Bill came in and rubbed my neck  :) He asked if he should stick around in case I had a hemorrhage, brain tumor or stroke. Humor doesn't really work on a migraine sufferer.

I told him to go.

I got up a couple of times for water and eventually made myself a sandwich. To my great delight,  my mother (who is presently gallivanting along the shores of Lake Huron) left some delicious chicken salad and some lovely rolls. I ate a chicken salad sandwich, 2 glasses of milk and went back to bed for some more one-eyed scrabble.

By about 4:00 p.m the pain had subsided enough that felt I could open the curtains without too much effort. I looked longingly into the backyard.

I grabbed my book, went downstairs and outside. I pulled a lawn chair into the shade and started into the story. And, promptly fell asleep.

Migraines take it out of me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Will Move for Beer

The original place on Spadina - during Emma's inspection

As I write this, our son is assisting our daughter in moving all her worldly possessions from a lovely apartment on Spadina in Toronto into a small 10x15 storage unit somewhere north of Dupont. Emma was determined to move;  she just didn't quite get the timing right. She gave notice to her current landlord that she would be vacating by July 31... trouble was she didn't have another place lined up to move into on July 31.

She looked at (read "inspected with a microscope") over 40 places in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), well actually within a very small downtown radius. She couldn't find anything suitable. She had a long list of 'must haves' not the least of which was a balcony. Her living space had to: (a) be within her price range - she was moving out because the landlord had raised her rent; (b) be within a proper (i.e. commutable distance to UofT) neighborhood; (c)  not have any carpeting (her allergies make it impossible); (d)  have off street parking; (e) not be in a high-rise/multi person dwelling; (f) have ample closet space... you can see why she had a hard time.

So, a September 1 move in date was inevitable.

As luck would have it, Will, our son had planned a trip to Algonquin Park with a couple of  his canoeing pals. They had aspirations of taking a road trip to Montreal after their wilderness excursion, but they ran out of money. Emma pounced on the opportunity. "Come to Toronto - I will feed you and house you and take you to some fun pubs (19 is the legal drinking age). All you have to do is a little heavy lifting." She was like a siren with weary sailors. Suffice it to say, they drove down to Toronto last night - game for the challenge.
I think Will help persuade the boys, too. He's a good brother and would help Emma anytime she asked.

Anyway, this a HUGE gift to me: My weekend is now free. I insisted that Bill keep his calendar clear this weekend so that we could go to Toronto to help Emma move. Now, the calendar is CLEAR, and I cannot wait to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! If you're anything like us, the summer weekends are booked solid by June 1. I cannot even make a date to see my own cousins for dinner! It makes me crazy! So, this weekend is precious!

I just hope that Bill will allow me to do absolutely nothing. If you see him, please don't ask him to do anything this weekend! I really want him to myself.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Niagara Falls, NY - the Same Sex Marriage Capital of the World?

Finally! New York State passes a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. It was a long time coming, and I, for one, am ecstatic that the senate saw the light. Passage had been close before, and I was surprised when it failed a couple of years ago. Now, it has been passed, and I can rejoice.

Never one to miss an "opportunity", Bill has been trying to figure out another way for New Yorkers to benefit from this bill. Besides the obvious one of allowing gay citizens the right to be recognized, he was intent on getting some additional money into the state coffers.

Bill is a native of Niagara Falls, NY. For those of you who haven't been to Niagara Falls, NY since, oh, since Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotton made the famous movie ('Niagara'), let me assure  you that it is not the romance capital it once was. It has declined into a state of disrepair and ill repute. There are a lot of well meaning citizens who have attempted to revitalize the area. Most notably, the Seneca nation has infused a lot of cash into the casino business. Unfortunately, the beautiful casino has not generated revenue for the rest of the city: If your destination is the casino, you tend to stay in the casino. You don't leave the multimillion dollar facility to grab a coke at the Wilson's Farm or a meal at the Como. PS - the Como, on Pine Avenue is a fantastic Italian restaurant. Well worth a trip.

The United Office Bldg
But, what does remains in Niagara Falls is Kitsch with a capital K. It was once THE honeymoon capital of the US. Bill maintains that it could reclaim this title if it caters to and targets same-sex couples who want to tie the knot. It has some beautiful art deco buildings (Carl Paladino did a great refurbishment of the old United Office Building) and the beauty and splendor of the Falls is second to none (well, maybe Victoria Falls - but who goes THERE?).

The strip of motels on Niagara Falls Blvd, (The Driftwood, the Sands, The Caravan, The Bit O' Paris), complete with heart -shaped jacuzzi tubs, flocked wallpaper and crushed velvet window treatments, may entice those couples who go for the 1940s glitz and glamour. Tim Gunn may cringe, but I personally know some couples who would delight in such decor! And, the Maid of the Mist? The name alone is made for love!

Bill was so excited about the prospect of the gay marriage bill that he emailed Mayor Dyster (the mayor of Niagara Falls) and proposed his idea. Now, remember, Canada already recognizes same-sex marriages and has completely missed the boat in Niagara Falls, Ontario. They have made it 'family friendly' and 'tasteful'. What if we just gave into some questionable taste and embraced the "over the top" sensibility that is Niagara Falls! We're 80% of the way there.

I think I told you about Bill's "Don't be an asshole" campaign aimed at Buffalo drivers. But, I think this one has legs.  Mayor Dyster: TAKE NOTICE. This is a fantastic idea. Tie the knot in Niagara Falls; make Niagara Falls the gay marriage capital of the world.
And, Bill's slogan?


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A series of fortunate events

Normally, I spend the 4th of July at home in Buffalo with the family. But, due to some cancellations, change of plans, change of heart, and the ability to make last minute decisions, Emma, Mum and I found ourselves hurtling through time and space (otherwise known as the QEW) last Friday night. Luckily, the traffic was all going the opposite way so we flew through Toronto and continued north. Three and half hours later we were dockside, waiting for my best friend, Annie to pick us up in her aluminum skiff. We had missed cocktail hour, but had made it in time for a late supper.

Annie has the great, good fortune of owning a lovely cottage on an island in the middle of the Canadian Shield. The kids (and sometimes Bill) and I have visited her there since she bought it in 1995. Let me tell you, that 3.5 hour journey plus the small boat ride to her island has the effect of lifting us into another dimension.  Life at the cottage is slow and easy and uncomplicated. The air is fresh and smells of cedar. Every so often you can catch a whiff of the water - the way water is supposed to smell: clean and cold and a little bit earthy. The loons call at dusk and dawn, the chipmunks chatter, and the red squirrels scamper up the side of the rock face on which the cottage sits. The biggest decisions that have to be made are whether to stick with Lite beer or move on to gin and tonics.  

The cottage is rustic enough to make you feel like you left the city, but fully equipped with heat, hydro, appliances, comfortable places to lounge and have dinner and with wonderful sleeping accommodations. And, although there is a superb bathroom, I still prefer to use the outhouse. This outhouse is like none you've ever seen: cleaned within an inch of its life, non-smelling and nestled in a lovely part of the woods.

Annie also has a bunkie (pictured here). It holds two single beds and has windows on all sides. Emma and I slept up there each night. One night I woke up and thought for an instant that I was at home and my mind instantly went to: what time is it? how much more time until I have to get up for work. Then I smelled the cool air and realized where I was. A feeling of such joy and peace overcame me. I thought to myself : remember this feeling. This is as close to nirvana as you are ever going to come. I nestled back under the duvet and fell back asleep immediately. 

Annie, Mum and Bella

My mum was able to come with us and probably had the best time of anyone. Annie has a lovely Bernese Mountain Dog, named Bella -  Mum quickly made friends with this sweet, hairy beast. Curiously, mum, at 80 is more easy going than I remember when she was younger. She accepts what comes her way and makes the most of it. She was determined to go swimming after she saw Emma and I dive off the dock. And, although it was a tad chilly, she bravely ventured in (with her bathing cap and lipstick firmly in place) and swam out past the rocky shoal. Mission accomplished.

And, in the middle of this idyll on the island .... didn't I meet a guy who works for Ferrari Ontario. Let's backtrack for a moment. A couple of months ago Bill had a wee accident at Watkins Glen with his Ferrari. He smashed it up but he was unhurt. Apparently, the car is so old that you can't get parts for it anymore. Bill has been mourning this car mishap since his auto-body guy told him the bad news about the lack of replacement parts.  Bill even offered to pay Will to use his Internet research skills to find the darn parts. Apparently, there may be a part that will work ... but it is in Taipei.

Now, picture this: My legs are hanging off the dock when an island neighbor comes by to say 'hello' and to drop off some berries and peas. He casually mentions that his weekend guest is a car nut who works for Ferrari Ontario - and he does body work. I about fell in the water.

The next day, Mr. Ferrari Ontario comes by, I show him the picture of Bill's smashed up car (that was on my camera phone) and he and Bill start emailing each other! WHAT THE HECK?? How do things like that happen? My mother calls it serendipity. We talked a lot about serendipity last weekend  - she prefers to think of it as God's hand.

Whatever it was, I am thankful for it. I am thankful for Annie, for her kindness and friendship over the past 30 years and for sharing her piece of heaven with us.