Author Archives: whiskybaker

Reflecting on a Daily Trip

I was listening to today’s Daily Trip (I love the name) on the calm app. The title is “To love the unlovable.” Jeff Warren is the “tour guide” of the trip I guess.

…“Daily Trip” meditations – short practices that attempt to communicate the exploratory joy and pleasure and richness of meditation, but also, in an honest way, some of the challenges…

Jeff Warren’s description of Daily Trip from his website

I’m quite fond of the Daily Trips – Jeff Warren is engaging and seems to care about the listener. All really reassuring actually.

So, back to today’s daily trip: about loving the unlovable. He clearly sets out that this is gonna be hard for some people; some people will feel pull back etc and just to feel it all and note it and see what happens.

Me, on the other hand, have no difficulty it seems in seeing the humanity in others, of being able to send out love to all. Then the trip moves to thinking about who you consider unlovable. All I get is those who don’t recognize the humanity in others – that whole I see the humanity in everyone so my mind goes to people who fail to recognize that trans women are women; or who seek to impose laws restricting a women’s ability to control her own body; or people running corporations single-mindedly focusing on increasing profits and caring nothing about the environment or their employees or customers etc

I can still love those people.

When I turned my mind to actual people who are in groups like those I described above, or who support those groups, I still felt love but even more so I felt a deep, almost devastating, disappointment. It took me a while to move past that feeling; in fact it’s already after 5:10 p.m. and I’m still a bit heart-broken in writing all this.

I tried to pick a calming picture – so here are the lilacs from our garden

Thank you to the Met Opera

My folks love opera – I am clearly the black sheep in this family. I can’t stand it. It’s always in another language and I know enough to know that I’m missing the nuances and double entendres (I mean, it’s opera, there’s ALWAYS double entendres. And lots of deaths.)

Okay, it’s not that I can’t stand it, I actually quite like the music sometimes. But I feel like I only really “get” the English ones, and sometimes the French.

But the Met is amazing – they’ve opened up their archives and are posting an opera each evening for free. My folks used to go to the Cineplex showing of the Met Operas and now they are enjoying watching them in the living room. I have to say it’s kinda nice to have as background noise to my reading Divisional Court decisions or drafting adjudicator education materials.

But I still think of Bugs Bunny when I hear the opening strains of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (Barber of Seville).

Fair use,

I searched for it on YouTube and found the LA Philharmonic playing it – complete with Bugs on screen! – at the Hollywood Bowl!

So two vaguely-related-to-opera stories from me:

My dad went to the eye doctor. He was having a hard time seeing things far away. The eye doc put him through the usual tests and said nothing really seemed wrong (at the time; turns out that doc was wrong but I digress).

My dad: “But I am having a hard time seeing the surtitles at the opera!

Eye Doc: “Buy better seats

The other vaguely opera related memory involves my parents and Easter. They always hosted family and close friends at Easter time. My dad and I would label 100s of pieces of chocolate – you had to find not only 14 (kids) or 7 (adults) pieces of chocolate but YOUR 14 or 7 pieces. Mom would be busy making food for a hundred and twenty people; but hey, we complained about labelling the chocolate 😉

So anyway, when a very young Maltese tenor arrived in Toronto one year to perform, it turns out his flight home was late in the evening on Easter Sunday. And his hotel made him leave early Sunday morning. No one else was around and he happened to call my father. And my folks did what they always did – they invited him over.

So this darling, charming young man (I say young, he’s only 4 years younger than me but I’ve always been old) arrived at our house, looked for chocolate labelled at the last minute with dozens of other people who had no idea that 15 or 20 years later Joseph Calleja would be singing at the Met. And we got to watch him this week AND he played one of my favourites from Shakespeare – Macduff!

The Metopera website wrote:

The great René Pape is Banquo and Joseph Calleja gives a moving performance as Macduff. Adrian Noble’s powerful production provides an ideal setting for this dark drama, which is masterfully presided over by Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi.

So thank you Met Opera. One day I may move beyond Bugs but honesty I hope not!

A week of mugs

I was trying to think of how to separate the days – if you don’t know we’re not only not going into the office but we’re also not at home. The bathrooms in our house are being renovated and it’s basically impossible to live there so we’re all (two adults, one 9-year-old and two cats) living with my parents in a 2-bedroom condo. Toby, Q and I moved out of our house on January 5. We were in a rental for 9 or 10 weeks, then we moved in here.

Then Covid-19 hit.

So I wanted a fun way to separate the days. So I started sharing my mom’s ginormous collection of mugs on FB and instagram 🙂 So here’s the first week of photos:

Do you remember Dominions? Now they’re all called Metro. They started in Toronto in 1919 and were bought and sold a bunch of times it seems. Anyway, this mug was made for Dominions.

Sweet bunny!

The mug on the left reminds me so much of my dad – it’s silly and actually looks a little like him. And comes with a mustache protector. The one on the right is creepy I think. My folks got it in PEI – I think it was meant to look like my dad too but I don’t think so lol

My mom and dad used to give out “loot bags” after their big parties – this would have been filled with chocolate and candy canes and I am sure I tied metres and metres of ribbon around them at the time. (my mom’s name is kinda blacked out – it’s a long-standing joke between her and I; she’s fine, still my mom, still married to my dad, since 1968!)

Just a lovely music mug

A souvenir mug from the PanAm games – when 10s of 1,000s of visitors came to Toronto. Sigh.

Tourist in my home town – Grange Park

NOTE: I took these pictures in October 2019. I thought they would be good to share now during physical distancing so we can remember what’s waiting for us all when we’re done.

Tucked away behind the Art Gallery of Ontario and OCAD University is the most lovely little oasis.

At one time it was basically the back yard for The Grange (which was the original home of the AGO and has it’s own long history) and now it’s a lovely spot to wander, listen to kids playing on the playground, or water gurgling through the splash pad (in summer) or from the fountain:

(there was a person who was obviously quite fond of the fountain hanging around it and every time I went to take a picture would try and move into the shot. I’m not sure if they wanted to be in the picture or just stop me from taking it but I eventually got this photo)

I really love the way Toronto can pull off nature in the middle of the city!

And of course, the love affair with Henry Moore continues:

Large Two Forms - Henry Moore
Large Two Forms – Henry Moore

The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre in the AGO is the largest public collection of Henry Moore’s work – and he gave most of it to the gallery.


I don’t remember the last time I gave blood. My donor card from Canadian Blood Services says it was 2014. I know I tried a couple of times after that but I’m always borderline on the hemoglobin scale (apparently you need 125 g/L and I’ve been refused at 120 and 123 so I guess they’re pretty strict about it; don’t worry though 120 g/L is the low end of “normal” – just not enough for them to let me donate). Anyway, the last time I tried to give I had a rather matronly reception nurse try and give me all sorts of rules to bring my iron up – as if I had never heard it all before and I was definitely made to feel as though I were wasting her time for even bothering to show up. I was off by a point or two! Sigh.

So I stopped going. And then, with all the hospitalizations going on right now I realised that was nothing but selfish of me really. So I tried to make an appointment online. It turns out the King St West clinic in Toronto just shut down because they couldn’t keep people the appropriate physical distance apart. So I made an appointment to go to the College St. location. Still close enough that I can walk and avoid public transit – I don’t need to take it so I will leave the space for the people who can.

Appropriately enough for me, my appointment was on April 1, 2020. Yep, April Fools’ Day.

 April Fools Day by is licensed under CC BY 4.0

I did my best – I ate broccoli, we had steak on Sunday, I had smoked oysters. And on the flip side, my period started Monday. So, what happened yesterday?

I drank lots of water all day yesterday and today and made sure to leave enough time to take a slow walk to the clinic. Everything was taped out as to where to stand and wait and there was hand sanitizer to use at multiple points.

The College St clinic is housed in the Victoria Hospital for Sick Children. It’s got such a great history – It was built in 1892 and was where Pablum was invented, and incorporated x-rays in 1896.

I was about 10 minutes early so I had to wait until my time. Apparently they have a capacity of 82 donations and they almost hit 90 today! I have O+ blood – which I think is helpful for all + blood types. But whatever you have you should donate.

Anyway, my hemoglobin was a whopping 141 g/L! Woohoo!

Next time I will not plan on walking 2.5 km home again. I was wiped out and I even made sure to walk home slowly. My folks ordered pizza for dinner so I had a couple of large glasses of water and a couple slices of pizza and headed to bed!