My Amelie-like Experience With Toy Cars in This ‘Hood

I mustered up some enthusiasm and set out to walk to my most fruit and flower stand (in my hood). Actually, it’s been disappointing me lately but I only wanted to buy asparagus, tomatoes and cucumbers. That I could find there!

I walked up my usual street, and then noticed approximately a 15-cm long toy car. And what car! Teal color, 70’s feel, and unsupervised! Whose car was it?! Who left it right on the street, and without any child in sight? I took a dreamy photo:

I continued my walk to the fruit stand, spent 10-15 minutes shopping, and started walking back. Being naturally very observant I kept looking around until my gaze fell on the bush by pavement. AND WHAT DO I SEE? Another elegant car. It was burgundy red, sleek and delicately “hidden” just enough to fall into observant person’s line of vision. Or a short child’s.

I dropped my bags and took another photo. I was on a quest. This couldn’t be a coincidence, especially considering that the two cars were a block apart! I kept walking. I saw the first car on the pathwalk to someone’s house: did a kid move it?! Where is everybody?

Walking by the children’s playground near my house I stretched my neck in hopes of catching  a sight of more cars or any indication of who this Amelie-like gamester was. No idea.

As I was getting close to my house, I squeaked when I saw a third car! What! I took a photo.

I should’ve gone out to hunt more cars in our neighborhood, because there must have been more. Cars like these probably don’t come in sets of only three, and if someone planted them around the hood, that someone must have had more than three. Yesterday my roommate saw a carcass of a similar yellow car. The children got to them and already destroyed these beauties that shoulda been on someone’s toy mantelpiece instead.

My Weekend Meals: Recap

And the reasons why I should stick to salad and leafy,  non-meaty, non-carby things this coming week. Except for Wednesday night when I will be venturing out to Buca for a dinner.

I. Friday

It started with a dinner at Enoteca Sociale, which you should try visiting for yourself. It’s Pizza Libretto’s sister restaurant on 1288 Dundas Street and Dovercourt. Really worth it. They also have a cheese cave with more cheeses than regular food items (listed on the menu, teehee). Follow Enoteca on Twitter.

For wine we ordered Faraghina 2009, which was a crisp, dry white wine. Despite eating a medium-heavy meal we all agreed on trying this wine and were not disappointed. Please keep in mind that I forgot to photograph some items on the menu. That’s my fault. For next week’s recap I’ll be more careful.

We started with crispy veal sweetbreads and arugula, as well as artichoke fries. For the first round of firsts we ordered house made pappardelle braised rabbit, house made duck liver ravioli sage brown butter and raviolo (ricotta, wild spinach & peas) with porcini mushrooms.

The latter (and the above photo) was part of the tasting menu which also included chef’s antipasto, ontario lamb chop parmigiana & green beans, treviso & green salad. Here’s the lamb:

For dessert we got allegretto (thermalised sheep’s milk, quebec, sharp) and a sweetened ricotta, almond biscuit & ontario peaches:

Then we ordered three kinds of cheese from Nonna’s cheese cave. Our server let us go downstairs and see the beauties for ourselves. Annie picked a blue cheese, Hesam got sheep’s milk and I went for the goat, which apparently turned out to be Nonna’s favorite,  Chaput St. Maure. Forgot to mention the dessert wine! Moscato was a pleasant surprise, with rose petals and just enough sweetness for a dessert wine.

II. Saturday

As if pigging out and enjoying ourselves last Friday was not enough, I made an appointment to meet a friend for brunch at Saving Grace. I had an Americano from Ezra’s Pound while I waited for this brunch spot to open. I then ordered poached eggs with some potatoes and chopped chorizo and Ontario peaches. The food was good and still light enough:

After the food I remembered that I was hosting a friend that night and went to Kensington Market to stock up on delicious things to cook later that night. I bought two salmon steaks and later that night battered them in blackened seasoning for that night’s feast. I also chopped up some homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers, add them to the arugula mix, diced some peppers and added chia seeds. the dressing was olive oil and some salt. See for yourself:

III. Sunday

The following day I had another brunch planned with Nadja Sayej of ArtStars whom I haven’t seen in a while. We settled to meet at Mitzi’s. I ordered the much-praised huevos rancheros and was disastrously disappointed. Not going to Mitzi’s for brunch ever again. The food was tasteless, prepared without any apparent care, and it the portion was seriously meant to serve three people. Bleh! Not again.

To make things right, I didn’t despair about Mitzi’s and instead walked back home home to attend to several things and to anticipate Meghann and our collage-making time. On Saturday I bought a fine pork chop from Sanagans Meat Locker in anticipation. I got a cocoa sauvignon spices for said pork chops, and I also added some pomegranate sauce to make things right. The following is the pork chop I made, and Meghann’s collard greens with butter. And homegrown tomatoes!

We decadently finished off the night with bacon butterscotch cupcakes from Yummy Stuff.

So yeah, I am going to buckle down this week. Excited for that!

Any questions? Holler!

Longing for Weekend Visits

Last weekend my roommate went to Oakville to stay with her parents. She visits them every almost every weekend, and I admit I am wee bit jealous, because I wish I had the opportunity to see my family as frequently. Of course, if we all lived in the same city, I probably wouldn’t be able to see them absolutely every weekend. But I would appreciate the opportunity itself.

I imagine heading their way straight from work, and making it in time for dinner. Upon seeing me, the ever excited Bugs Tomato would leap to me, and then actively jump trying to lick my face once I kneel down. Seconds later, this affectionate little animal would experience problems breathing – chihuahuas are known to have respiratory problemsб – because he gets so excited. After I massage his throat for a bit and wonder how he can be so ecstatically excited to see me, he’s back to normal. I wish I could tell him to take it easy at times.

I would go on dropping my bags and situating myself in the kitchen, either helping mom to prepare dinner (something Russian that I asked for), or more likely, making the whole dinner myself. I love cooking for the family.

In the sunlit dining room (or the balcony, rain permitting) we’d share the food, laughter and recent news. Later we would most likely watch old Soviet movies, or 90’s Russian films. Sometimes mom and I itch for animated shorts of the olden days. Whatever we watch, we enjoy the time spent together.

For the rest of the weekend I would most likely preoccupy myself with either making food for the family, walking on the Promenade along the shore, or gearing up to take my mountain bike for a ride. Last time, instead of biking, I opted out for a hike in the neighboring forest. I definitely appreciate the West coast flora, especially the trees.

Really, I wouldn’t do much while visiting the parents. I always try to be in the present moment, to be calm (doesn’t work, I’m too excitable!), and patient. After the first few days I start to experience a sharp sense of melancholy, because these beautiful days will have to come to an end. I play with Bugs Tomato – he’s oblivious to my upcoming expiry – and I randomly hug either mom or dad. I desperately want the clock to slow down, but it is ruthless.

On the day of my scheduled flight to my other home, I mean it when I say “I don’t want to go”, and already foresee the blue week ahead. Upon the arrival, en route to my bed, I already long for my warm family home, laughing together and the ever ebullient Bugs Tomato.

Cities and Horcruxes

I was walking down the street (how Dickensian and utterly, typically boring), en route to home sweet home, and I thought about something. I tried to figure out where my home was. Because I love my parents, my dog and the lovely house where they all live, I want to say, “My home is in Vancouver!” and yet when I am there I feel like I am on an anything goes vacation. I also feel different, like an outsider and almost like the blast from the future. So no, not quite there.

Toronto is fantastic, it’s a home. But it’s a home which is solely powered by my passionate heart. I make it what it is. I am the fire that burns in your eyes. And is it really home when one person is behind it? Perhaps not.

“Home is where the heart is,” I hear. Oh, what a relief! But where is my heart?

I love Berlin, my heart got lost there. Ibiza’s wonderful and Spanish only, seafood-infiltrated beaches devoured a big chunk of my pumping muscle, too. So where? I betcha Rioja is dying to eat the rest of what I have hiding behind my left lung. And I haven’t been to Congo yet.

So I realized that every bits of my soul are all over the world. Then I thought about Harry Potter, lord Voldemort and horcruxes. When I heard Tom Riddle about splitting his soul and leaving it to various objects (places in my case), I saw myself leaving bits and pieces of me everywhere. I love the world, I love to travel, I belong in the airport and I am the explorer.

I can leave bits of my soul in many places, thus living on in many places at the same time, and living forever. In very big fat theory.

In theory, I would be living in all of the cities I visited, because they affected me so.

In reality, however, I will probably be only living forever in the minds of people I affected. I will live on as long as the memory of me lives on in the people that were close to me. Perhaps down the road, the memory can carry onto people that I have not known. By creating something, by giving life, finding, building, teaching, showing, making, explaining, illustrating something to someone else, I can hope to give a part of my soul to them, thus extending my life. Man wants to be remembered.

I have to live my life prudently, expressively, beautifully and independently. I have to go where my mind and heart tell me to. I will not trust witches, nor will I subscribe to pure paganism. I will be me, and I will keep on splitting my soul in as many cities, places and people, as possible.

I live forever already.

Tetro

tetroI still have the images from this film in mind. What an excellent work of art. It’s Francis Ford Coppola’s first original screenplay since The Conversation. It is  a beautifully told story of the two brothers and the unveiling of the family secrets. The writing is absolutely fantastic, complemented by outstanding performances of Vincent Gallo and Alden Ehrenreich. Maribel Verdú (from Y Tu Mama Tambien) as the wife of Tetro (Vincent Gallo) does an amazing job, too.

I have never seen Vincent Gallo on screen before, and this film has put him into my favorite actors pool. He’s absolutely mesmerizing, the writer on a perpetual writing sabbatical, a not quite failed genius. And his eyes transmit a lot of emotion. The part where he stares at the blinding peaks of Patagonian mountains carry all the emotion of the subsequent ballet scene (which is also five stars).

Speaking of the ballet – Francis Ford Coppola created some of the most amazing dance scenes in this film. Some of them filled my eyes with tears. Apparently many of them have been shot in the studio only to be decorated with memorable and beautiful backgrounds in post-production. The whole film is actually in black and white – the present is in black & white, whereas flashbacks and scenes from memories are in color. In other words, for Tetro, the present is pretty bleak and not as vivid as the shaky past. I was wondering why the choice of black and white, until I hit the mid-peak of the film. My oh my.

I recommend this movie. It is now in my top 10 favorite movies of all time, filled with fully developed characters that undergo shocking changes as the story unveils. I’m still in a mild coma, and a sea of emotions that I can explain, but won’t. I don’t think it’ll be a stretch to say that Oscar nominations are due, but who knows. Go and watch it. Here’s the trailer:


All That Jelly

Took these shots in Boston at the New England Aquarium. The place was a lot of fun! After conquering the long line to get in, we delighted in the micro-processing, never hurrying jellyfishes, counted as many weed sea dragons as we could, and learned that the giant tank in the middle of the Aquarium is actually tuna can-shaped as opposed to the “apparent” soup can-shaped. 40 feet wide vs. 20 feet tall, ha!

Besides enjoying and photographing unique creatures (and reading their “facial” expressions), I also made a friend with a penguin whom I named Bob. Bob was swimming in the pool as I watched him from above (the pool extended beneath the area where humans walked) and I started waving and calling him to get closer. He looked up and seemed to have gotten mesmerized for a minute there (yay red hair)! Then we continued the wave – swim underneath – swim out – watch for the Karin – swim to where she’s walking – swim out – hear her call – look again… It went on for several feet until he got an ADD attack and quickly swam away with his buddy. I’m telling you, I am princess Mononoke.

The rest of the photos are here

Post title inspired by the homie Egyptrixx.

On Learning


Originally uploaded by dreamtiger

When I was about 6 or 7 years younger when it was the time to choose some kind of a profession, I used to say: “If I could just learn for the rest of my life, and get paid for that, I’d do it.” And I suppose I can become an academic, but the second problem that occurred was the choice of the subject to become an expert on.
Eventually, I gave up that idea, but I still possess this hunger for learning. I’m lucky to have a job where my task is to actually seek out new knowledge and amazing content. Some of the greatest educational video blogs of priceless information are Fora TV and TED Talks. I recently found Change This, which is just full of amazing documents. And of course Wikipedia is there for up-to-date information.
But learning for me is not just about keeping up to date with the blogosphere and fads, it is also learning about music (that includes visits to the symphony orhestra), culture, language, film, scientific advances, fashion collections, dancing (see photo), literature of the past and present. The list can go on forever. I want to know everything there is to know about the world, and I want to learn as much as possible. Self-development ends on a deathbed.

Platja den Bossa


I really like this photo, which I took in Ibiza, on Platja den Bossa. I haven’t even noticed the great composition – look at the man and the woman! And then check out the couple in the distance – their heads are almost on the same level as the couple’s in the foreground. Yeah!

Playa d’en Bossa is the longest beach strip on the island (2 km). It’s full of beach cafes, bars, restaurants that often have famous DJs spin some tunes before performing at major clubs of the island (Space, Amnesia, Pacha, Privilege, Eden, did I forget something?).

We rode our scooter to the beach after spending most of the day in Eivissa town (where we scootered all the way to the top! See other photos), and relaxed. Be warned – numerous umbrellas beach chairs (is that what you call them?) that fill up the area have to be paid for. Watch out for the collector man.

London Callings

Oh, crossing the streets is a major nuisance here. I feel like I’m breaking all sorts of laws when crossing. Even Zoe said that she still doesn’t quite know when she is allowed to cross or not, because very often the pedestrian light turns red, but so does the light for cars. This is when I usually run across. I’m obviously confused as to which way to look, but luckily there are directions painted on sides of the roads: “Look left”, “look right”. I find it strange that back in 1999 I didn’t find the “right” side of the road to be a problem. In Russia the same sides as in Canada and US are the “right” sides, but I never took notice. Perhaps I didn’t cross the streets enough.

Well, alas, tomorrow I have to return to North America. I may be that sapping young woman on a plane that everyone is going to think said good bye to her boyfriend and is now sad. Whilst in fact, I will be sad about leaving Europe. I’m from here, and I will be back (for good)! Terminator said so, and he returned, see.

Ah yes, stay tuned for the art and literature reviews. I picked up so many fabulous books! I’ll have to work my charms at the British Airways check-in desk tomorrow, making sure they don’t charge me extra for going over the allowed bag weight.

From one of my new acquisitions: “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the park. Aim for the company of immortals.” David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man.

You Sound Like Youre From East London

I just got a haircut from a man who’s been cutting hair for 28 years (including frou frou Kitsilano in Vancouver and 1985’s Spanish Harlem), and I realized than instead of going to hipstertown and seeking out the gayest, skinniest youngster with amazing hair, you should go to men of experience. Just make sure you explain your dreamcut really well. So yay to Islington’s Rough Cut!

I am currently sitting in Wellcome Collection, which is a unique mix of galleries, events and meeting, reading and eating places spread over six floors. Its goal is to engage public with health and well-being; it brings modern art, medicine and peoples ordinary lives to create and exciting place of interest. I am here, so should you when in London.

I went to Camden yesterday evening and had quite a good time. Besides picking up some flaming vintage pieces and trying Moroccan food (my next travel place of interest), I met some nice folks and managed to keep the happy hour prices in a bar way past the happy hour time. Camden is full of Italian daddy’s girls looking for bargains, handsome punks, prima donnas of the burlesque scene who will never see 30 again, skater boys, American Apparel sect members and random misplaced people. It’s heaps of fun, as my Australian friends would say!

By the way, I haven’t been updating a lot lately because I have been busy experiencing life here, but I have certainly been taking notes on what to post about. My autumn schedule will be busy, but calm busy, so expect posts very often!

Losses and Damages

Ah yes, on this trip I haven’t lost anything super valuable. Most annoying thing is that i’ve forgotten my BlackBerry charger in Ibiza (and no, I was not inebriated at the time of packing), and had to run around Barcelona’s Born and Gotik neighborhoods, trying to find something to replace it. Did find it, but what a silly waste of money.

I also got hurt in Ibiza – burnt my leg when accidentally touching the exhaust pipe of mine and Krystel’s scooter.

And the last one is catching a minor cold after 21 days of good time and merrymaking. One thing I regret is not drinking enough water here in Europe – it’s fairly expensive in restaurants and servers don’t usually bring a glass to the table. Oh well! 😀

BCN to LGW

I am a little sick, hence getting tired way sooner than usual. But not to worry – I have been writing down things to blog about, even if I have no time.

When I was leaving Barcelona, on a Friday night, I decided to take the train to the airport. I got to the Sants Estacion and went to the train station, got to the right platform and then jumped on a train that was there. Some other people followed and we waited. I was an idiot enough to drag my suitcase up the mini stairs and took a seat.

Then the kids who got in after me quickly ran off the bus, and I panicked. I dragged my suitcase down the stairs and as I was about to jump off, the doors closed. Right in front of me!

A kind man came up to explain to me that I won’t be going too far and that I should get off at the next station. So I got off at Bellvitge train station and that messed things up.

I decided to grab a taxi. But there were none. I had 50 minutes before the EasyJet check-in closed.

I tried calling a taxi, but they hung up on me because I had no street address (hello, Vancouver taxi cabs; same story there) to give them. I panicked even more. I tried to run up the overpass to get to the other side of the train station – second entrance. And as I was half way through, I saw a cab! I missed it.

I started to get really worried, I could’ve missed my flight to London after all. I ran down with my 23kg bag and got upset. Some elderly couple tried to help me figure out where to catch a cab, but that didn’t help.

I started crying right in the middle of the street, panicking, scared of missing my flight, when a young man came up asking me (in fairly good English!) what was wrong. I told him. Him and his girlfriend called me a cab, but none came. We dragged my bag to the main avenue of the suburb, and waited. I had no Euros left, save for €10, and hence couldn’t fully the €15 fare to the airport. The couple gave me €10 more! Then the cab came. My God. Am I not lucky? After this incident I’m pretty much convinced that nothing will go wrong in my life anymore, and if it does, a guardian angel will help me out. (This is sort of what happens in Harry Potter all the time, eh. The boy’s just so well connected and gets help when he’s in trouble)

God bless the couple that helped me out. I found that Spanish people in general are really warm, helpful, and empathetic. These two lovely strangers didn’t need to help me at all, but they did take the time out of their evening to make sure I got on my plane!.. And I don’t even know their names 😦

When I ran up to the EasyJet, panting and still shaking from stress of missing the flight, the check in guys laughed, but in a good way. They also didn’t charge me €30 for every kilo that my bag was over the limit… And it was over by 4 kg. Am I not lucky?

Crazy day, that Aug 29. Most ridiculous day of the month, actually, hehe.

More on Europe

Berlin was such a satisfying sight when it came to the roads (among many other things) – all the cars were either Mercedes, Audi, Opel or BMW. I saw ONE Ford and shivered to the bone. What’s a Ford doing in Germany? What kind of a nitwit would buy a Ford when they can buy a probably better Audi for that price?

Another note on Spain – Ibiza island is full of roundabouts. At first it was sort of tough on a scooter, but then we eased into it and found it much more practical than lights or highway exits. Roundabouts! I’m so happy that my Ibiza experience was just as wild as it was chill. Master of balance ze Karina.

I’ve been thinking about Hemingway a lot here, his Spain. I was trying to pick up one of his book to read since I am in Spain and I love reading books set in locations which I am traveling through. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything super intriguing of his (and I couldn’t deal with reading so much about bullfighting, considering Barcelona was the first city in Spain to protest against bullfighting or bull running). Instead I got Faulkner’s Light in August. It sounds quite promising; I spent several hours in a cafe yesterday reading it.

Hey, I just arrived in Bunol! Going for La Tomatina. Tomatoes, here I come!

random musings in a cafe in Barcelona

It’s interesting how people write a lot about their personal lives when they are younger. I used to write so much about my heart’s rollercoasting about 5-6 years ago, but now that seems like a gargantuan waste of time. Hearts are some of the most unstable things in the world that spending time on detailed archiving of their course becomes some of the worst ways to throw precious time out the window.

* * *

Dairy in Europe is much better than in N. America. Water is always in bottled form. I keep thinking about Dave’s environmental comments every time I ask for or buy water. I also think that is the reason I haven’t been drinking enough water on my trip, yikes.

We are driving to Valencia tomorrow to have some legendary paella (which is where it was invented anyway) and to partake in La Tomatina in Bunol. I still have to buy some cheap shoes and protective goggles to survive the famous tomato battle.

More to come later

Catalunya

Well! I am in Spain. It has been my secret desire for some time now, I must admit.

I always wanted to have tapas and enjoy the chatter of passers by.

Barcelona is a wondrous and surreal place in way that a Juan Miro’s work is, with its grotesque animal shapes and disfigured perspective, with its narrow streets that make you slightly uncomfortable but definitely welcome you to get lost and find yourself in some safely tucked away Placa… I keep thinking that I will uncover some secret when I walk around the Barri Gotic or even Barceloneta. I am convinced there is a secret that a handful of locals are able to whisper, yet they all have it in their hearts, Catalan hearts.

My dreams of seeing the artworks by Picasso and Miro are coming true! I absorb the culture like a sponge of sorts and I am extremely happy to have the opportunity to do so. I am grateful for the friends that are with me.

Xavi and Sal are great guides. They took us on a tour yesterday. We went into a small square where the building walls still bear the gunshot marks from the times of the Civil War. I could not believe my eyes, but my video camera did.

The food, the food. Let us discuss – we went to the Mercat Santa Caterina, and my eyes fell out at the sights of fresh seafood, and several dozens of cured ham varieties. Ladies and gentlemen, make sure you go to the markets. Skinned rabbits, goat heads, cow brains, steaks, mushrooms, cheeses… Yes.

Last night we drank homemade sangria (guess what, i’ve acquired the recipe, too…), and went to Gracia neighborhood for some drinks. The narrow streets are littered with small bars and whatnot. Did I mention that I used the Bicing system and biked through the hilly city (in a slightly not so sober state, oops)! I did well, and unfortunately Georgina did not because she and Sal fell off their bikes 😦

And it’s been only two days so far. More museums, more food from the markets awaits me, and more fun. We still have to go to the Sidecar and dance our socks off.

Tomatina happens on Wednesday! Stay tuned. Oh, definitely do. Salud!