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Live Free or Die (a vaguely threatening motto…

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Our much anticipated summer vacation has come and gone and it was wonderful! This year we went to New Hampshire, where I’ve never actually stayed before and neither has Paul. Frankly we just hoped that we’d picked a place that would be pretty, have a few things to do, not too much, have some ice cream nearby, and we’ve both relax and have fun together. We picked a place off of VRBO, which not knowing anything about the area, was kind of difficult. But guess what? Our vacation luck streak continues! It turns out we had chosen a popular (but not wild) outdoorsy area of the lakes region. Little Squam Lake was an offshoot of the big Squam Lake, and the whole thing was surrounded by woods. Not only that but it’s where On Golden Pond was filmed! As soon as I heard that I started listening and looking for loons. We never saw any, but one night around 3am I heard them!!! I was very excited by that and woke up Paul so he could listen too. We heard them the next night as well. Our Little Squam Lake area was perfect-we had access from our cabin to a small beach shared by a couple other houses. We loved kayakingThe lake here was very shallow and not too big. We could just step onto the paddleboards and take off, or kayak, or swim, or canoe. From the water, looking toward the shore:Floating on the calm lake, if only I had a book in my lap...
The water was unbelievably crystal clear, and even though there were rushes and water lilies, it was not murky or icky.lilies The water was like a mirror. The water was like a mirrorI even found it delightful that there were turtles: friendly turtles swam by usThe whole little lake area was a no wake zone and we enjoyed kayaking all down it and checking out all of the lake houses and boats along it. At the other end was a covered bridge and once you went through that you were into the big lake, which was very big and people waterskiied and the like on it and could drive their boats fast. On our last day we hiked up a mountain to a spectacular view of the whole Squam Lake (and Little Squam, etc.) and this is what it looked like:
The view of it all!
We ate plenty of ice cream. We were especially enamored of something called a “Snowball” which was a scoop of ice cream rolled in toasted coconut and hazelnuts, sitting on hot fudge and topped with whipped cream. I was happy to read a few books, and we even played enough games to satisfy me. And we had a couple of outings too. In addition to the hike we also spent a whole afternoon at the Squam Lake Natural Science Center,an evening at the “world’s largest arcade” (Funspot at Weirs Beach/Lake Winnipesaukee) and another morning at the Polar Caves. The whole caves thing was reminiscent of Bushkill Falls–a natural geologic feature turned into a family attraction. In this case it was a series of caves in this mountain. I opted out of 3 of the caves, including the “Lemon Squeezer” and “Orange Crush.” One of the caves was called “Fat Man’s Misery.” There were definitely some tight and narrow spots, but none of us got stuck or freaked out.

All in all, it was a terrific week away!

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Skibunnies and Vermont, but not together

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A couple weeks ago we took a long (years long!) overdue visit to my brother’s family in Vermont. They had no snow, so there was no snow frolicking to be had, but plenty of nice hanging out. We visited my brother and sister-in-law’s workplaces, which were fascinating. He is at the most stereotypical dot-commy start-up  sort of place ever and she is at a maker space. Which for us meant we all played on the virtual reality set up they had. 2017-01-14-15-09-55
In all the times I’ve been to Vermont I’d never been to Ben & Jerry’s, so on Sunday afternoon we took a jaunt to there.2017-01-15-12-38-13 It was bitterly cold out-just the sort of day for tasting ice cream! The tour is actually very short, so it’s kind of amazing that they have made a tourist destination out of a 6 minute video. It was still quite interesting and the nicest place ever and made me feel even better about the company and all the good things they do. We bought some merch and some big cones of delicious ice cream (Paul had a local to the shop flavor-maple walnut)2017-01-15-13-33-06, took some photo ops,2017-01-15-13-54-14 and then visited the icy graveyard. This is where they have headstones for all the retired flavors. 2017-01-15-14-00-57So many of them I thought, “That sounds delicious! I can’t believe they don’t make that anymore!” and then to cap it off I grabbed a geocache from there and it was a travel bug, so I’ll now be hiding that somewhere in a cache in NJ.2017-01-15-14-04-55  We were also able to visit friends that Paul knows from long long ago. All in all it was a great 3 day weekend.

Last weekend was the weekend of the march, which was on Saturday. On Sunday we all went skiing at Jack Frost with Clark’s Boy Scout troop. I regretted signing up and really didn’t want to go (both weekend mornings getting up at 6, ugh). Despite my brothers both being avid skiiers living in Vermont and Colorado, somehow I got passed over when it came to learning how to ski and I’ve only ever gone once before, not very successfully. To my very pleasant surprise we all had a great time! There was a lesson to start, which was very helpful and fun, then we had lunch. Afterwards we just started going down the slopes. We stuck to PowderPuff and Snowflake, and honestly they were plenty exciting. You could really get up some speed on them and several times I kept thinking about how I was careening down a steep hill and if I fell it would really hurt. But I never fell once! Clark chose to snowboard, which did involve a lot of falling (from everyone new to it, I noticed) but he had a great time with his friends and actually we barely saw him. 2017-01-22-13-46-20Tabby surprised us by being amazing at it. She loved it and confidently kept heading down completely on her own, zooming toward the bottom and ending beautifully at the ski lift. 2017-01-22-13-36-11It was not a very nice day out, but it managed to not rain on us. Clearly all the snow was manmade, and the ski lift ride was not very scenic since it was dirty brown leaves below. 2017-01-22-14-47-00 It was really fun and both kids have asked to do it again (drat! What an expensive day!)

The worst part was the tight boots which left narrow bands around both my legs that were raised into blisters. It’s a week later and the one area still really hurts! Surely that’s not right?

 

Oh, and somewhere in all that we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary to us!2017-01-17-07-34-59

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A Look Back at 2016

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It’s time for my favorite post of the year! A look back at the past year. I really enjoyed reading the 2015 look back just now (that stuff was so long ago!)
2015 began with a bang for us-I got a job and returned to work. I can’t believe we’re coming up on a year anniversary of my first day! Obviously it’s been an adjustment in many ways for all of us (including the dog), but overall I’m so happy to be back in the field and very happy where I am. Not surprisingly, many of my hobbies took a hit from this, especially photography and sewing. I thought I’d make it up in the summer, but I didn’t.

In the spring Clark graduated from Cub Scouts and achieved the Arrow of Light. This was a big deal ceremony and we were very proud of him and happy for him. After so many years with the Cub Scout families and events it was a change for all of us to say goodbye to all of it.img_5945 Clark joined a new Boy Scout troop and has liked it very much. It began with going away to camp when summer began and continued in the fall with a few camping trips, some of which Paul went on. The best was a trip to Harpers Ferry W VA. A cool thing their troop does is have their own patch for the Appalachian Trail. You get a pin for each state you hike 6 miles of the trail in and spend a night in. In December both Paul and Clark received the patch with their first three pins on it. So far he has achieved Tenderfoot rank, which I wrote about here because of the embroidery aspect of it.
Meanwhile, Tabby and I continue along in Brownies. I’m happy that I was able to continue on being her leader, as I really enjoy our group of girls. Our troop attended our first “Camporee” and had a great time. It was not so much camping as all of us (including parents) attending an outdoor resort. We stayed in cabins and got to canoe and zipline and swim and it was all a lot of fun (even if Tabby & I were huge babies on the ropes course and got terrified.)2016-06-04-10-59-09
While Clark was at camp this summer Tabby and I took a trip to visit my dear childhood friend, Joanna, and her daughters. We enjoyed our road trip very much and spending time with our friends. We capped it off with an extra special surprise visit to the National Zoo. Tabby adores pandas and to see them in person was very exciting for her (and me!) It was super fun and special.

 

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After that it was pretty much just summer as usual, until we took our family vacation to Boston. Although I barely posted anything this year, I did write a pretty big post about that trip here.  It was a super vacation including whale watching, art, history, and the big event-Pearl Jam at Fenway Park. mosaicboston
Speaking of concerts, it was a big year of concert going for me and Paul. I wrote about all the summer/ fall concerts here. All told, I went to see the Indigo Girls, Guster, Sigur Ros, Pearl Jam (twice!), Weird Al, Kishi Bashi, Band of Horses, The Monkees, Squeeze, The Legend of Zelda (symphony), Pokemon Symphonic, Ben Folds, Ben Folds with yMusic, XPN Fest (Darlingside, David Wax Museum, The Districts), Barenaked Ladies (with Howard Jones and OMD),  Flight of the Conchords, Crash Test Dummies, and Richard Thompson. It was a good variety of music and venues and a great part of the year.2016-09-24-22-37-56

We had one other trip this year, and that was a short getaway to Watkins Glen, NY. We’re not race car fans-the allure for us is the amazing gorge there. We’d been there once before, just to hike the gorge (in the rain!), but this time we stayed in a cabin for a couple nights. It was a lovely relaxing trip that included not just hiking the gorge, but also a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, which was awesome.mosaicwatkins

Our menagerie remains large, but this year we sadly said farewell to Nibbles. He had been losing his sturdy plumpness and got rather thin and then one day it happened. We all loved Nibbles and were sad to say goodbye to him. Nibbles

We also said farewell to my mom’s dog, Sophie. At 16 1/2 years old she had a wonderful long life, but her departure left a hole. Perhaps she’s playing somewhere with her dear old friend, Pippin. In the coop there many additions as well as deaths. Our big President Rooster died, I chased a fox across our front yard who had a chicken in his mouth-she escaped but he came back for her and her dumb friends on the following two days. There were 13 chicks hatched over the summer and it was just baby baby baby peep peep peep everywhere.2016-08-09-13-17-32
Peeping out from Mother Hen
Some babies were nurtured more than others and of the un-nurtured group, who never were taught to go in the house at night, 6 of the 7 eventually got killed. Idiots. Our rooster Baddie was dethroned as the king of the coop by a up and comer young new rooster. Gordon continues to live in harmony with his chicken friends.
Willow continued to grow and mature and although she still eats food off the counters she is a marvelous dog. Although I think we both miss the big daily walks, she is actually very happy to instead have shorter walks in the meadow where I let her run off leash.2017-01-01-15-46-40

There were, of course, other fun days here and there-a Princeton football game, a Princeton hockey game, Tabby performing as Augusta Gloop with her 4H club at the fair, visiting the aquarium in the midst of XPNFest, holidays, birthdays, and fun for me-special days at school. One especially fun new thing this year was embarking on a long term tabletop game with our friends, Liz and Eleanor. We began Pandemic Legacy, which is a very intense game in which we are working to save the world from horrible pandemics. As you play the game you affect the board, actions, and characters (you can kill some) for the duration of the year long game. We are about halfway through and all I have to say is, good thing we’re not the real CDC.

Now, although I did say I haven’t been keeping up with photography, and there’s been a sad reliance on my phone this year and lack of Flickr participation, I did set one photography project for myself that I really enjoyed. Matching the Crayola colors from the 64 box to real life flowers in my garden.

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I didn’t even keep up with my “Favorites of 2016” folder! Here’s a link to it.

All in all, it was a pretty good year. Now, the elephant in the room. I can’t talk about a year end reflection without acknowledging that since November 9 we’ve all been down in the dumps (well, the adults in the house) and had our beliefs about mankind and the world gravely shaken. I have tremendous worries and concern about the next 4 years, but I will strive to do one small part by teaching my children to show respect and kindness to people and stand up to bullies.  Although it may not feel like it, I know there are still good people in the world and good moments. Would you believe we met another Pearl Jam fan in Boston and kept in touch? I mean, how lovely is that?  And I get to be a librarian again and immerse myself in educating and sharing books with students. And I get to see my children growing up and being smart. And even though I didn’t enjoy my hobbies as much this year, I do have them! And I met my reading challenge this year (read that big recap of my top books of the year right here.) And I have a super husband who is my concert partner and biggest fan. So, that was 2016. Let’s see what happens in 2017!

Anything Else?

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So anything else from this fall? Let’s see, we went to a Princeton football game and a Princeton hockey game, and had a grand time at both.
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2016-12-13-19-32-35 Hockey is more my speed than football, and as the far less popular sport, it was super cheap and easy to get to for a quick weeknight game. The rink was great and the rows only 6 back from the ice (we sat right at the glass.) 2016-12-13-21-10-12
Clark and Paul went on a couple camping trips with his Boy Scout troop, including a fantastic trip to Harpers Ferry, which included a hike up to this beautiful view of three states. See the beautiful view here and the proud hikers here .

In doing all these scout activities Clark was able to rank up to Tenderfoot at the December court of honor. This achievement made me finally get some sewing in, in the form of embroidery.2016-11-12-19-59-49 The tradition in this troop is that when a boy achieves this rank he receives a hand embroidered neckerchief. Pretty simple embroidery-all satin stitch and the design is printed on the kerchief. (You receive a kit.) Satin stitch is not my favorite, but it’s certainly easy to do and while this was a little tedious I was happy to do it and think it turned out beautifully. (I can only imagine if you didn’t stitch that this would have been extra tedious.)

Congratulations, Clark!

Tabby and I went with our troop to see a Disney on Ice spectacular and that was a lot of fun, too. I didn’t do any other sewing, despite getting that Christmas quilt top finished right before school started. I finally took a day and made the back and yesterday I put it together and began tying it. My hope is to finish tying it today and do the binding tomorrow, thus finishing it in 2016. It may need to be a “finish by the end of vacation” goal, though. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy it very much and it will be brand new to us when we pull it out at the start of next year’s Christmas season.

There will not be a Garden Wrap Up post this year because there really wasn’t a garden. I will do my usual Top 10 Books of the Year post, and possibly the big annual look back. In the meantime, I’ll wrap up with a couple pics I especially liked, from a day at a conference.

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Boston: Travelogue

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Last week we took a trip to Boston for an action packed 4 day vacation, which included the previously written about Pearl Jam concert.  But what else did we do that left us so tired? We arrived on Thursday late afternoon and checked in to our hotel. We were staying kind of outside the city in the midst of not much, an option that many other PJ fans were doing as well. Free parking, free shuttle to the T stop that was 2 miles away, and much cheaper than right in the heart of the city. The one thing that was by our hotel was a Boston Bowl, so we ate dinner and went candlepin bowling and had a grand time. Speaking of the T stop, we spent an awful lot of time on this trip taking the T to get here and there, including many transfers. For our kids, who live in a public transportation free area, this is easily one of the most fun parts of a city vacation. They loved it and that we rode all the lines. And let’s face it, people watching is so much better than when you just get in your car and drive to Wegmans.
On Friday we did the quintessential tourist thing and took a duck tour.2016-08-05 13.33.28 Before it started we had two hours to spend at the Museum of Science (that was the starting point of the tour) and it was a really lovely science museum. zapWe only saw part of it and would have liked to have gone back after our tour, but lunch and other things beckoned. As for the Duck Tour, I was really looking forward to this and it did not disappoint. We were driven all over the city while the knowledgeable tourguide told us all kind of interesting facts about everything we saw.IMG_6903 It was a good way to not have to walk everywhere and get a nice overview. And we did so enjoy the part where we went into the Charles River and the kids even got to drive the boat.
Afterwards we headed over to Quincy Market and got some food and ate outside and walked around and soaked up the ambience. Then went into a branch of Newbury Comics for a long time and bought new graphic novels.
We then met up with my mom, who had driven up that day. We went swimming at the adjacent hotel in the funny little incredibly deep pool, and then all refreshed and hungry, headed back into the city for a late night dinner in the North End.  Because it was late I figured we couldn’t dither around trying to compare restaurants to find just the right one. We walked briefly and I saw a place off the main street, it looked charming, they had room for all of us, so in we went. And o what vacation serendipity!! First, when I got home and looked back at emails I saw that someone had actually recommended that restaurant! (I hadn’t even noted the name.) Second, it was one of the best meals of my life. I had the cioppino and it was spicy Italian seafood heaven. My mom had the lobster ravioli which was incredibly rich and delicious. And Paul had some “four meats” thing that was Italian meat heaven. We wrapped up the night by heading into the famous Mike’s for famous cannoli.2016-08-05 22.12.01
On Saturday Paul took us over to Cambridge to Harvard Square. I should mention here that Paul used to live in Boston for a couple years, going to school, working in a bookstore in Harvard Square, buying stuff at Newbury Comics all the time, and the like. So for him it was fun to show us some things he remembered and revisit locations and see how they changed. It rained a bit here so we went to a coffee shop, I browsed a fancy stationers, we took a quick peek at the Harvard campus, and then hopped on to the T to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. My mom and I had put this high on our list of Boston sights, though I’m not really sure why. I think just that I had always heard it was a good museum, plus it had the fascinating unsolved robbery many years ago. [We did not see the empty frames notes in that linked article.] It was a beautiful and quiet museum, and a lovely way to spend an afternoon.Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum View from above We all enjoyed imagining that we were super rich people in the late 19th century who collected art.
After that mom headed back to the hotel while we took the kids over to Fenway Park to check that out and buy some official Pearl Jam merch.Welcome to Fenway That evening the kids enjoyed more swimming and dinner with mom while Paul and I went out to a viewing of the Friday night concert. The next day, Sunday, was a big one. We had tickets to go whale watching at 10, leaving out of the aquarium wharf. It was clear and sunny and the big boat was nice. It took about an hour to drive away from the city, though we could still see it on the horizon. We reached the Stellwagen Marine Sanctuary, an area where humpback whales naturally congregate to feed in nutrient rich waters and, a whale!Look! A Whale! For the next hour we saw humpback whales in groups of 2,3, and 4, as well as alone, doing all the things you might expect. Humpback Whale
FlukeIt was truly exciting to see them so close and humongous, to see their beautiful flukes as they dove, great sprays of mist from their blowholes, and so on. I’m so glad we did this because it was amazing. 2016-08-07 11.45.54When we returned to the dock we went into the aquarium to enjoy that for a while. Due to it being insanely crowded, we enjoyed and explored this wonderful aquarium much less than we wanted to. It’s clearly a way better aquarium than the one we usually go to, but we were only able to see all the many adorable penguins (being hand fed) and the great big center tube deep ocean thing with a spiral ramp going around it for four floors. I loved this and really, we all did and it was very satisfying.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel, refresh, and say goodbye to the kids and mom while Paul and I headed out to the concert. Which you can read all about here.
The next day we had planned on just coming home, but instead we made it another full vacation day. We said goodbye to mom and got back on the T for one more city outing. This time we went to the Public Garden, where it was, to our pleasant surprise, uncrowded and peaceful. Boston's Public GardenWe admired the famous swan boats and took a pleasant ride on one. Then we saw the statues of the famous Make Way for Duckings. Make Way for DucklingsWe then walked a few blocks into Chinatown, which is always fun. When I saw a fabric shop I insisted on going in. Quite a different experience from  Pennington Quilt Works.2016-08-08 11.53.45 I bought a length of beautiful fabric which who knows what I will do with. Then, more vacation serendipity, Paul looked up what the best place to eat there was and it was right there and even though super tiny, we only had to wait a couple minutes. The menu was so fascinating I could have sat their reading it for 15 minutes.2016-08-08 12.19.07 I did not get sauteed blood and leeks, but rather Ma Po Tofu, and we got lots of delicious dumplings.
After that we headed out of the city, collected our car, and headed home….almost. It was only 40 minutes to Plymouth so we decided to go there and visit Plimoth Plantation for an hour. A wrong turn took us not to the plantation but right into town and Plymouth Rock, which turned out even better. More serendipity! A parking space right along the water right by Plymouth Rock.Plymouth Rock We admired the small rock, climbed some stairs to a beautiful view, marveled that the island right off the shore was called Clark’s Island, went down to the docks and looked at the Mayflower II and enjoyed the lovely harbor.Mayflower II
Mayflower II
We capped it off with some really awesome ice cream from a place with an extensive list of creative homemade flavors and finally buckled in for the very long drive home. Very long. We got home about 1 am (but I’d rather waste a night than a day driving!)
All in all it was a great vacation, very tiring, but we did and saw so many things.

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Bei Bei

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Tabby and I took our own trip this week, down to Virginia to visit my oldest friend, Joanna, and her girls. We had a marvelous time, accomplishing all the things on my “I want to do” list, which included nothing educational, historic, or strenuous. We did our nails, watched tv, hung out, went out to lunch, went shopping, told old jokes and stories, and just enjoyed being together. It was wonderful and super relaxing. Here we are all the girls together:2016-06-29 17.51.49

And here we are–over 30 years as friends!2016-06-30 16.46.19-1

The day before we left I realized that I should have planned one particular thing and decided to be spontaneous and do it on Friday, since we really didn’t need to be home at a particular time. As you might have noticed, Tabby’s favorite animal is the panda. We have talked about how much she would like to see them, but, as we are not going to China, would need to go to the National Zoo to see a real panda. Duh! We were only 45 minutes from the zoo! On Friday morning, instead of driving straight back home, Tabby and I went to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Oh, she was so excited!! And oh, was it ever worth it.
Tabby & Panda
As soon as we arrived we walked straight over to the pandas. I was getting a bit worried because we didn’t see them and then we saw a crowd with cameras all pointed in the same direction and saw the baby, Bei Bei, way up in a tree. Being adorable. His chubby self draped over branches. Moving around. Oh what a sight!

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After that we just poked around. We loved seeing an orangutan using the “O-line”-man-made vines the orangutans can use to get from one area to another, right over your heads out in the open. Tabby loved the reptile house (which I hate, but manage by taking off my glasses so I can’t see anything and standing safely in the middle. Since this outing was a special thing all for her, I was being a saint and letting her do whatever she wanted.) We also really enjoyed an exhibit that was scattered throughout the zoo. The pieces were sculptures of ocean animals made entirely from trash found on the beaches.
Sea Lion
So, it’s horrifying to see all the things that have washed ashore,  yet as a sculpture it’s awesome to see how they were able to use the trash to make all the color and details just right.
Chompers the Tiger Shark

Another treat was the carousel. Now, the #1 carousel we’ve ever seen was in Brussels (before kids) and included strange  and creepy creatures. But this one is going to be a close second for my new favorite. It included beautiful renditions of animals they have at the zoo. And not your standard lions, and tigers, and bears. How about–naked mole rat? fennec fox? cuttlefish?
National Zoo Carousel
Tabby chose the panda, of course.
National Zoo Carousel

Another highlight was seeing this:Mr. Beazley.

I was so startled by this and recognized it so instantly and was overcome by surprise emotions and, well, I cried. This dinosaur used to be on the Mall in front of the museum of Natural History. I can remember climbing around it as a child (we visited D.C. fairly often, it seems) and a family photo that I love is one of my (very young) dad and the three of us, next to this dino. I had no idea they still had it, much less that it was here at the zoo.2016-07-01 14.14.05 And to make it even better, I didn’t know that this dino was the model for the dino in the movie version of The Enormous Egg. This is a book that was a favorite of mine and I didn’t even know there was a movie of it.
We returned to the pandas and this time went into the building where all four were hanging out. Oh my God, was Tabby ever excited. Bei Bei was napping in his little room, but the others were all eating bamboo and looking cute. Even tumbling over.
Tabby & Panda

The happiest girl there that day

So overall, we had a wonderful special day, just the two of us, at the zoo.
Tabby & Sarah at the National Zoo
And even though it made our drive home long (traffic is just a nightmare down there, good grief) it was so worth it. And of course our trip to the zoo ended with a special souvenir and Tabby chose a stuffed Bei Bei.

Willow welcomed me home in the most adoring and excited manner I have ever been greeted. Holy cow she missed me and was so happy I came back. And now today Clark will come home and we can’t wait to see him and hear all about his week at camp!

O Canada! (Pt. II-Toronto)

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When last we left off in the travelogue (torturously long ago-I’m simultaneously having trouble getting into a school year routine as well as having too many things to do during the day), we’d just gotten in the car to drive up to Toronto.  After an uneventful drive (*our listening pleasure on the entire trip was The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw, read by Bronson Pinchot. This is the 3rd and final book and we’ve listened to the previous titles on previous long car trips. Bronson Pinchot is an amazing audiobook reader. It’s like being entertained by a one-man show and really quite incredible. Though to tell the truth, I was tuned out on this stretch of drive as I was so engrossed in the middle ages, reading the end of The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.) we found our hotel and checked in.  And now began the fun (and very new-to-the-kids) of staying in a city. The last time I was in Toronto Paul and I were there for the ALA Annual Conference, and we had just gotten engaged the night before! So yes, I remembered it with a rosy glow. Our hotel was in a terrific location-a bustling area, on the edge of not-Chinatown (maybe a new area developing into a new Chinatown?), easy access to subway stops, and the underground shopping centers. Since we were in such an Asian area we took the opportunity to take the kids out for their first dim sum. The food was great and afterwards we went to a bubble tea place. Paul loves bubble tea, but doesn’t come across it very often, so he was pretty delighted that there an entire place that was just that.
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2015-09-03 19.59.57 After all that we made use of the hotel’s terrific family pool.
The next day we ate breakfast out and then headed downtown (via subway) to go to the CN Tower. We were thrilled to realize that a comic con was starting at the convention center (which is right next to the CN Tower), so the people watching the whole time we were there was fantastic as there were hundreds of people dressed in costume on the subway, on the sidewalk, in the coffee shops, etc. The CN Tower is rather like the Space Needle-a tremendously tall spire that you can go up.
the CN Tower
We ascended and then there is an observation deck and also a cool glass floor, which is unnerving to walk on.
the CN Tower
Here’s the stadium the Blue Jays play in way down beloooooow..
the CN Tower
The views were amazing-Lake Ontario is humongous and beautiful, and you can really see how big a waterfront city Toronto is.
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After the CN Tower we had a little Canadian snack at Second Cup (a coffee chain that we fondly recalled and couldn’t wait to enjoy a frozen hot chocolate at.)
Tableaux of Canadian snack timeWe walked along the street to enjoy a marvelous memorial which is tragic, but also funny (a match factory seems ripe for a fire.) Called “100 workers” it is a gallery of plaques, one for each year 1900-1999, commemorating someone who died in a workplace accident. 100 Workers
The descriptions are rather uneven-many early ones gruesome and detailed(“died from blood poisoning from a circular saw cut”), with many later ones vague or abrupt (emphysema). It is well worth 10 minutes of your time to check this out. Then we took the subway up to Casa Loma. We were really excited to check this place out, which is called a castle, which was somewhat misleading to Clark who was hoping for oubliettes and suits of armor. In fact, it’s a huge historical mansion (castle).
Casa LomaAnd if there’s one thing I love it’s touring historical mansions and imagining the life of a robber baron. Or, as a friend commented, “I can practically see the gilded hummingbirds from here!” Exactly. IMG_4469 Casa Loma is frequently used for filming movies, which was also kind of neat to see. And for Paul and I, a nice surprise was that there was an exhibit in one of the rooms of Group of Seven paintings. Now, the Group of Seven was a Canadian art movement/collective back in the 1920s (I think that’s when, and I can’t be bothered to go fact check in our beautiful coffee table book about it.) The impetus for this trip was to see the band The Rheostatics, who were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of an album that was music inspired by the Group of Seven, with a rare performance of said music. So, it was cool to see the paintings right there. After thoroughly exploring Casa Loma everyone was hot and tired. We needed desperately to just go relax in the hotel pool, which we did. Followed by a lovely dinner out at a pub, and then some much desired time at Indigo, a wonderful huge bookstore. The World Needs More....Group of Seven
And, to Tabby’s everlasting excitement, the new home of an American Girl doll store.  She was truly in heaven, having never seen one before. It is the source of her beautiful smile in this photo:
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And this giant lit up (changing colors) Toronto piece was really cool. Lots of people in the plaza taking neat nighttime pictures, and a lovely way to end our (yet again) late night.
TORONTO
TORONTO

TORONTOFor our final day in Toronto we visited the Royal Ontario Museum and the Hockey Hall of Fame. And did a little shopping at Roots. ROM was a terrific museum, not humongous, with a nice variety of collections. I think there was something there that each of us really enjoyed. Tabby seemed captivated by the First Peoples exhibit, while Clark liked the Ancient Chinese and Japanese things, I liked the Staircase of Wonders and biodiversity exhibit, and despite himself Paul was fascinated by the Mexican textiles. #ROMpei : a sidewalk art installation to celebrate their Pompeii exhibitAnd we were all delighted that the subway stop for the museum has cool pillars and sculptures, instead of ordinary poles. 2015-09-05 13.21.46 Next up, hockey. The Hockey Hall of Fame houses the Stanley Cup in a beautiful domed room with a ceiling made of gorgeous stained glass. Stained glass dome
It’s resplendent and an appropriately lavish setting.
The Stanley CupThat was our first stop in the museum, which was filled with interesting things like old uniforms that look very quaint and insufficient.Goalie
We especially enjoyed the interactive exhibits and all took turns trying out the NHL shootout where you try to score goals against and animated goalie. (I scored 2!)
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And finally, the trip wrapped up that evening with the concert at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO.)  We are wishing we were able to explore the art gallery because it looked pretty cool, but it was closed for the evening. The event was held in an open room, and there were just 500 tickets sold for this sold out event.
The Rheostatics @ the Art Gallery of OntarioWe stood very close to the stage and it was really quite an incredible, intimate experience. Paul is the Rheostatics fan, and so I leave him to tell you in detail about this special concert and why it was so rare. For the record, they didn’t play the one song I hoped they would, but that’s ok because I did enjoy it. Also, this was an incredible blend of sound and sight, as there were projections on the walls of the gallery space that were integral to the whole thing. It was quite moving. Here we are outside: The Rheostatics @ the Art Gallery of Ontario
And up early in the morning for one last swim and then a stop in a science museum (but there were no photos because there was a lot of crankiness) and then heading home, which turned into an endless trip–12 hours!! due to all kinds of traffic nonsense. Boy, were we tired when we got home at 1am.
All in all, a great trip to our neighbor to the North!!