Canada, Cuddy, Coffee, & Cows (a/k/a How I Spent March & April)

Friday, June 1, 2018


Happy Friday, all. Hope everyone had a good week. So, I was off my one weekend in getting this written. Sorry about that. I drafted most of this last weekend, but didn't quite get it finished. This will be one of those grab-bag posts, so hopefully there's' something for everyone! :c)

It's hard for me to believe as I write this, but I'm approaching the nine month anniversary of my GCS (gender confirmation surgery, for the acronym-averse) in Montreal last fall.

It barely seems possible that it's been that long, quite honestly. I still need to write about my experience there - in fact, I'll make that my next post (putting it in writing will commit me!); it's hard to come up with the words to adequately convey what is, without exaggeration, the most important thing I will ever do in my life.

For now, I can say that I'm progressing nicely, albeit with some bumps in the road. Nothing super-serious, fortunately. Just some common post-surgery hiccups that can happen.

The most annoying thing is that I put on weight after the surgery. It was a combination of factors, not any one thing in particular.

I was staying with my sister, and her neighborhood is not conducive to walking, in terms of both traffic and safety. The volume of traffic for what is ostensibly a residential side street is staggering. (My nephew told me the city installed a tracking device recently and counted 4500 cars in a three day period. 4500!!!)

I also had to contend with a New England winter and my semi-annual bouts with the flu  - first during the holidays, then again in the spring. We had a very strange winter (and spring, now that I think about it) weather-wise. The first half of January was brutally cold, followed by extreme warmth for a month. (We hit well over 80 degrees F several times in February.)

Then March and April were exceptionally cold and stormy. We had four Nor'easters in less than two weeks in March, which is highly unusual even for storm-prone New England. The Boston Marathon was held in some of the coldest conditions it has ever experienced in mid-April. (Remarkably, an American won the women's marathon for the first time in over 30 years - woo-hoo!)

Anyway, I'm happy to report that the weather has improved enough that I'm finally, finally able to start walking regularly again. I'm focused on getting back in shape slowly but surely, and not putting myself on the disabled list yet again by overdoing it. (When both your doctor and therapist warn you to take it slow you know your reputation precedes you. lol)

And being able to finally start running again will make a big difference. My running route is temporarily out of commission while the town is putting in new sidewalks, but once that's finished in another week or two I will be off to the races.

Figuratively speaking, of course. After a year of not being able to run (I had a lingering issue with a hamstring in the months before my surgery), I cannot wait to get out there! But I've learned to take the long view. Anyway, I picked up new running shoes after work tonight to replace my old pair, and am looking forward to breaking them in. Progress reports to follow!

***

In my last proper post, I mentioned that I had finally found a new apartment. It's in the same town where I'd lived for five-plus years before moving in with my sister last autumn. While I'm not fond of the Boston area in general, given my oft-painful past here, I genuinely like this town, and am pleased to be back here.

I moved in on St. Patrick's Day, so I've been there for about two and a half months. My landlords are a young family with a two-year-old son (he is absolutely adorable!); they're lovely people, as are my neighbors.

I did get a new bed, which is a little slice of heaven on earth after months of sleeping on a futon mattress. Getting a good night's sleep (by my standards - as a lifelong insomniac, five hours seems to do the trick) makes a huge difference, not surprisingly. My sister and nephew came over last weekend and helped me put in my air conditioner - which is timely, as it's very warm and today, so I'll get to use it for the first time this summer.

A few days before helping with the air conditioner, my sister came over to help me settle in a bit more. I think Ive mentioned this previously, but I was/am determined that I'm going to make this apartment feel like home at long last. Every other place I've lived, without exception, was basically just somewhere I slept. I almost never had guests, and I made no effort to make anywhere I lived feel like a home.

No more.

I vowed that from now that's going to change. My long-terms plans are going to take me away from this area (more on that another time - promise!), but for now this apartment is home. And I'm determined to make it feel that way at long last. I've had people over most weekends, which is something I *never* used to do. I don't need to hide any longer; those days are over and done with, finally.

In addition to the curtains (which make a HUGE difference - it's amazing!), my sister and I hung up some artwork I received recently for my birthday. Again, it's remarkable the difference that just a few pictures make in transforming a room. I thought I'd share a few photos (check out those hardwood floors, btw!):

Here's my favorite, which anyone who's read this blog over the years probably would have guessed without me saying so:


It will come as no surprise that this masterpiece occupies pride of place in my living room! :D (No doubt MOMA will be reaching out as soon as this is published to make an offer...)

I am told that this was picked out for me personally by a Mr. C, who shares my sister's domicile when  he isn't next door at our parents. Here's a photo of him pre-shopping trip, no doubt pondering what to get me:


You'll note this looks remarkably similar to him sleeping, but rest assured he was merely focusing like a laser beam on making sure Auntie Cass received a gift commensurate with her standing as his favorite (read: only) aunt. (The blanket is one of my Christmas gifts to him from last year, incidentally. My sister tells me it's his favorite, to the point that she had to go down to the cellar last Friday at 11:30 PM to retrieve it from the dryer before he would deign to jump up on her bed for the evening.)

My sister and I have some thoughts on some other things we can do (I don't really have anything up in my bedroom yet, for one thing), so stay tuned.

***

One reason that I was delayed in getting my apartment fully set up is that I took a vacation in early April, barely two weeks after moving in. Regular readers will likely not be surprised to hear that I headed north of the Maple Curtain once again.

This trip was extra special though. Not only did I visit my dear friend Alice and her husband, but history was made when Miss A and I had the pleasure of staying with none other than Halle and her partner! Woo hoo!

I had never been to Ottawa before, but I quickly fell in love with it. What a beautiful city! We were only there for four and a half days, so I barely scratched the surface. But I saw enough that I cannot wait for my return visit to further investigate.

As it turned out, winter followed me north of the border. It snowed *every* *single* *day*. *Every* *Single* *Day*.

On my first full day in town Alice and I first paid a visit to Quitters, a coffee shop owned by Kathleen Edwards, a terrific singer-songwriter from Ottawa. The coffee and pastries were both terrific, as were the souvenirs I picked up:



I laughed out loud when I saw the card at Quitters and purchased it on the spot. It is now proudly on display on my refrigerator door.

We then went to the National Gallery of Canada, which was wonderful. We nearly froze to death walking the half-mile or so from the parking garage to the museum (as I told Alice, you know it's cold when *Canadians* are walking backwards to avoid frostbite from the gale-force winds).

Nonetheless, the frigid walk was totally worth it. The Gallery is renowned for its collection of works from The Group of Seven. I had a cursory knowledge of their history, which Alice was nice enough to expand upon for me. Seeing the paintings up close was revelatory. I was particularly drawn to the work of Lawren Harris, particularly "Snow Fantasy" (1917):


After three hours in the museum, we met Miss Halle and her partner for dinner, followed by what was the highlight of my visit: seeing Jim Cuddy, co-founder of the great Canadian band Blue Rodeo, play a solo show at the gorgeous National Arts Centre.

He released a stellar solo album, Constellation, back in January (see below for a sample), and featured half of the album during the show, along with tracks from his previous three solo albums and a handful of Blue Rodeo tracks. His sons Sam and Devin - both excellent musicians and songwriters in their own right - were part of his band, and did their father proud.

Halle had custody of me the following day, and we spent a wonderful afternoon at the Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Museum of Civilization). We were there for four hours, and only left because we had dinner plans. We could have easily spent twice that long and still not come close to exploring its riches. I'm already looking forward to my next visit to pick up where we left off.
\
Incidentally, my favorite exhibit, as it turned out, appealed to my heretofore unknown inner philatelist: a display of every single stamp ever issued in Canada. It was SO cool! We spent an hour just in this exhibit (a permanent one, happily), and, again, could have easily spent much longer.

(Some US/Canadian trivia for you: Canada allows living people to be featured on stamps; the US does not. Thus I was tickled to see stamps for, among others, Bruce Cockburn, The Tragically Hip, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Burton Cummings, Neil Young, and many, many others. Would that the US follow suit; I, for one, would love to mail my electric bill using, say, a J. Geils Band stamp. :D)

After a much-too-short visit to Canada's capitol city, Alice and yours truly made the trek back to central Ontario. The cold and snow followed us, as you can see:


After several days with Miss A and her other half, my time with them had drawn to a close, sadly, and it was time to head back south of border, already anticipating my next visit - which is already booked, as a matter of fact. Cannot wait! :c)

***

I think that just about covers things for this post. ("Finally," you're no doubt thinking at this point! ;D) I will do my best to post more often; there certainly is no shortage of topics. I have a backlog, as a matter of fact; it's just a matter of carving out the time to write them down. Watch this space!

***

As promised, here's a track - the opening track, as a matter of fact - from Jim Cuddy's new album, Constellation. This is from a performance earlier on the tour, in Nova Scotia:


And here's a song from Jim and band from a previous tour, doing a kick-ass version of his "Five Days In May," from Blue Rodeo's classic 1993 album Five Days in July. Check out this violin solo!


And finally, I can't mention Kathleen Edwards without including a few of *her* songs too.

First up is one of my favorites from her: "You Get The Glory," from 2008's Asking For Flowers. The video is a hoot, too. (And the "villain" looks remarkably similar to Mr. Cuddy, does he not? :D)


(That really is Marty McSorley, incidentally, for the non-puckheads out there.)

And here's a terrific CBC performance of "Change the Sheets," a standout track from her most recent (I refuse to say "final!") album, 2012's Voyageur:


Until next time, have a great weekend, all!

2 comments:

Halle on June 2, 2018 at 11:40 PM said...

Those selections from the Jim Cuddy video collection were wonderful; bringing back such fond memories of your visit. K and I are looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Cassidy on June 2, 2018 at 11:57 PM said...

Can't wait either, Miss H! :D

Hugs,
Cass

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