Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Vacations at home: heaven.

In one of the earliest incarnations of this approach (low-paying job, high-level commitment to paying off student loans) I would sign out a laptop from work and take five days off to sit in my apartment working on a novel in my pyjamas, just like a Real Writer (minus the scotch and the talent.)

Last summer, I was equally happy to sit on my sofa designing a special pair of mittens while watching hours of Turner Classic Movies programming.

But this year I'm straying farther afield and being a tourist in my own city - hence the ice cream references over the past two days (today's installment: a gold medal ribbon milkshake from Baskin-Robbins. product review: delicious, but Greg's was still better.)

All this has involved a lot of walking, which is probably a blessing considering the upswing in ice cream consumption, but not necessarily more delight.

The big art gallery here, for example - well, I have to say it's an embarrassment. It's been hard for me to feel welcome there for years and though I'd heard it had improved a lot after a huge capital expenditure and renovation, throughout my latest visit I felt more uncomfortable than ever - security guards looming over visitors and speaking harshly to anybody who transgressed in any way, poor traffic flow from one sort of exhibit to another, a pretty snooty sort of cafe and really a total disrespect for children in the space, which is so not my experience at other museums and attractions.

Overall I'd have to say the best moments, apart from ice cream, have involved stopping. Sitting with informal picnic yums at a patch of University campus and guessing the source of the gargoyle's faces leering down from above, pausing under a mall tree and wondering whether it's real or artfully shaded with just a few dying leaves, admiring the skill of the stonemasons who lived and worked a hundred years ago.

And, yes: marveling at the shaping and gingerbread decorating the top floors of the old wooden houses across the street from the art gallery. Nice that this different sort of art got its own place on display, don't you think?

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