Friday evening, I had some folks from work over for a casual BBQ. The weather was supposed to be ok (certainly compared to the previous year where my event was rained out). It did sprinkle for about 10 minutes as I was setting up the grill, but fortunately it passed quickly. In the end, only about 5 people showed up, so I had too much food left over (particularly as one of them brought chicken to throw on the grill and this took ages to cook). It didn't go quite as planned, but it was still a reasonably fun time. Perhaps next year, I'll book my slot a bit earlier and more people will plan around my BBQ. It's a hard thing, since I probably don't want more than 10 people, but I had to cast a pretty wide net just to get 5... Anyway, this Friday there is another event (at my previous manager's place) that has been in the works (and Outlook calendars) a bit longer, so more people will make it, and it is more of an indoor potluck, so it won't matter too much if it rains.
Sat. I got up fairly early and got myself ready to take the Via train to Ottawa. I probably should have pushed through and left at 6:30, but I just wasn't quite ready. I ended up leaving at 7 am and got pretty soaked. I had enough time to change at Union Station and then get on the train. It was supposed to get in at 1:15 or so, though it wasn't until 2 pm that we actually left the train. There is still quite a bit of construction around Kingston, and then the Kingston-Ottawa leg seems to be down to a single track, so trains have to pull over onto a siding to let the other train go. So frustrating. Amtrak's on-time performance isn't much better (outside the Northeast corridor and the Chicago-Milwaukee run), but somehow it still seems run a bit better.
I was reasonably well prepared for the delays, though I didn't have enough food with me (I couldn't really bring a tub of left-over potato salad along...). I had spent a fair bit of time updating an old iPod mini. I probably hadn't used it in a couple of years, but the battery was still about 25%! Anyway, I wanted to add both of Glenn Gould's recordings of the Goldberg Variations, since this played a fairly big role in Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which I had selected for my on-board reading. I also added Tafelmusik's recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and Handel's Water Music. In the end, I didn't get around to the Vivaldi, but I did make it through the 1955 Goldberg a couple of times and the 1981 recording once, along with the Handel, most of Beethoven's violin sonatas, some jazz and a bit of rock music I've been listening to recently. The iPod still is about 50% filled with New Wave music, but it's probably a bit more balanced now. After the trip, I removed the 1981 Goldberg as it didn't speak to me quite as much, and I wanted to make room for U2 and David Bowie.
At any rate, I can report back that the iPod held up well on the trip (maybe better than me) and the battery still had a tiny bit of life as we pulled into Union Station. That's right, I actually did the round trip in one day for pretty close to 9 hours on the train, including the various delays (the return trip was delayed roughly 25 minutes). I did read the entire book on the train. Perhaps I should have left just a bit (maybe the coda) for the TTC journey home (it was far too late to justify biking home...). It's been quite a while since I have done that much concentrated reading on a train, though I must have read something last year when I went from Ottawa to Montreal and then on to Quebec City on the train. Not sure what that would have been, however. I might have finished up Sun of a Distant Land, but I would have wanted something longer. When I was much younger, I did the Chicago-New York run a few times on the train and often got through a couple of books. Given that I did read the while thing in one pretty large gulp, I'm still sorting through what I thought about it, but I'll write a review fairly soon (certainly before I have to take it back to the library at any rate).
I was making this trip to get over to the National Gallery to see the Gauguin portrait exhibit. After I started, I was worried that it was only a couple of rooms of self-portraits (and hardly worth my while), but then it settled down with several more rooms, including a few of his famous paintings from Tahiti.
|Paul Gauguin, Christ on the Mount of Olives,1889|
|Paul Gauguin, Melancholic (Faaturuma), 1891|
I was pretty hungry after getting through the exhibit, but it was late by this point (3 pm) and the little cafeteria was shutting down, so I just grabbed some fruit salad. I had planned to meet a friend who lives in Ottawa at 4:30, so I had 90 minutes to get through the main galleries. Fortunately, I do go about once a year and most of the permanent collection isn't changed up that much, aside from the contemporary galleries. It's also true that I don't really think the pre-1850 European art they have is all that great, so I can just dash through those galleries. I did note that the Chagall piece that caused all the fuss last year is not up on the walls any longer, which is a shame, as it is nicer than the other Chagall, which is still up on the wall. (Below is the painting that the National Gallery foolishly tried to sell off to get the funds for a particularly ugly religious painting of St. Jerome by Jacques-Louis David.)
|Marc Chagall, The Eiffel Tower, 1929|
I came very close to buying a jigsaw puzzle of Stuart Davis's The Mellow Pad in the gift shop, though I have to admit, I am just not really enjoying doing the Monet puzzle that I have started. I think it's a combination of my interests have changed and just not having the space to do the puzzle properly and spread out the pieces. I'm guessing that between this Monet and a Van Gogh puzzle that I never finished, I may well be puzzled out. But who knows. I may change my mind on my next visit.
I met my friend and we went to a cafe, where I wolfed down a panini. We chatted about a lot of things, including the miserable state of the world and how it will be so much worse in another 15 years... He also told me that the LRT still hadn't opened (it was supposed to open a few days before). There is a Tremblay stop which is right near the Via rail station, so hopefully I can take that on my next visit. I did see them testing the trains, but didn't have a chance to get my camera out in time. I grabbed a bit more food for the return journey, and he dropped me off at the train station, where I had a fairly uneventful but long ride home. It was sort of amusing and sort of annoying that due to the delay, I ended up catching the subway just as huge numbers of Kiss fans emptied out of their concert and filled the train. Being Canadians, they were well-behaved, however.
Sunday I slept in relatively late, but I guess I was finally moving by 9:30. I had had a few things on the agenda, including going to the gym and then stopping by Robarts Library and then Union Station to retrieve my bike. However, the main thing I had planned was to replace this overhead light/ceiling fan in the kitchen. In the end, it took about 3 hours just to remove. I came very, very close to smashing the glass bulb, since that was stuck on (basically the main reason I had to replace the thing in the first place).
|The old fan is finally down!|
Then I had to make two trips to Home Depot - the first to pick up wire cutters, since I couldn't remove the safety anchor any other way and then at the end of the installation to pick up new light bulbs. I have some 40 watt bulbs that should work fine, but the instructions claim that anything over 35 is unsafe and will result in the shutting down of the overhead light! Of course, then the only bulbs are these new "dimmable" LED lights that flicker like crazy when you try to dim them. Basically, this is why I hate the environmental regulations that are trying to phase out all the old light bulbs without making sure that 1) the replacements really are as good (and they just aren't), 2) there is a way to dispose of the new fluorescent bulbs (again, nope) and 3) there is an actual effort to make sure that the new lighting systems work with the new bulbs. The instructions of the new fan basically say outright that the dimming feature only works with standard bulbs, so why are they even selling this in the first place? Shouldn't it be illegal? I don't care quite enough to take this down and ask for a replacement, but I am severely pissed off. In the end, I managed to get the new light/ceiling fan up right around 6 pm, so several hours more than I had bargained for, and then I still had to make the run for the new light bulbs, as I just mentioned. I was too tired and sore to go to the gym (my arms had been over my head for hours), and Robarts was closed by that point. The whole day was quite horrible, and I'm glad it's over. I suppose I will feel some accomplishment later on now that I have a working kitchen light, but it certainly shouldn't have been nearly this hard.
So that was my lost weekend. I'm exhausted just rereading everything I got up to.