Monday, October 03, 2011

Ten Years of Tony!

Yes, if you can believe it, Tony and I have been together for ten years! In fact, a little over a decade. We always celebrate our anniversary some time in September in lieu of a specific date, and this past Friday was our McBaker-versary! We began the day with a quiet breakfast at home with Dolly, which was very relaxing and pleasant. During the afternoon, we went to the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 3D IMAX Experience ... it was every bit as awesome as it sounds! There were only about six other people in the ginormous theatre, and we happily munched away on popcorn lunch - total delight!

For dinner, we went to L'Unita, which offers exquisite Italian fare in an aesthetically pleasing, yet cozy and homey, environment. Oh, the food!!! We shared a great bottle of wine, quite simply the greatest Caesar salad around, and panelle fritta with basil aioli (basically creamy whipped potato concoction fried in big squares ... mmmmmmm!). Tony had the pan-seared scallops, which were layered with generous pieces of house-cured bacon, and placed over balsamic roasted apples and dandelion greens ... it was to die for! I had the very enjoyable spaghetti alla carbonara, which featured fresh egg, house made pancetta, and pecorino. All in all, it was a fabulous meal fit to top off a truly enjoyable anniversary day!

We enjoyed reflecting on the past decade, and look forward to many years in the future!

An anniversary Photobooth pic ... with our beagle girl, of course!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


We got back to Toronto on Tuesday afternoon around 4pm, at which point I had to rush about to go to a concert with my girlfriends. About three minutes after I put in my contact lenses, my left eye went blurry, as though there were vaseline on the contact ... weird, right? But it didn't hurt at all, so I just thought there was something in my eye or on the lens itself that would gradually dissolve and dissipate. After a couple of drinks at Chantel's and a cab ride to the venue, I realized that the blurriness was simply not going away, and assumed that the lens was damaged or still coated with something, so I decided to remove my contacts and wear glasses instead.

About 10-20 minutes after removing the left contact, irritation ensued, followed by weepiness. It seemed at first to just be a normal level of irritation, like that experienced from any small scratch, etc. But each minute it started to grow more and more painful, and the water was just pouring out. At that point, I decided that going home was the only option - after all, I couldn't really enjoy being out any longer, as the pain was increasing while my ability to see was decreasing. I still thought that I simply needed to get home and apply a cold cloth and some eye-drops.

But as I tried to make my way through the crowd, I was less able to open either the wounded eye or the good one, and had to solicit an on-site paramedic to help me get out of the amphitheater to a taxi. Once in the cab, I initially asked to be taken home, but as the pain grew worse every second, I eventually asked the driver to take me to the nearest hospital.

To make a long story short, I spend an agonizing period of time in the ER, during which I think they thought I had only a minor injury and was being a bit of a baby. But when Tony arrived to find me huddled over a chair with a blood-speckled paper towel pressed to my face (still not sure where the blood came from), he begged them to move me up the priority list and after a while we were admitted into the eye room. [Side note: another stroke of bad luck was the fact that eye injuries were abnormally frequent that night.] Once they froze the eye and injected the yellow dye - which highlights any scratches or cuts in bright green - my entire cornea glowed bright green. Though they were quite baffled and alarmed, the entire surface area of my cornea was basically stripped off. Hence the alarming, panic-inducing, mind-scrambling pain - apparently the cornea is the most sensitive area of the entire human body, and contains the highest concentration of nerve endings. The two doctors assured me that any response - tears, trembling, panic, fainting, vomiting - are entirely normal for cornea injuries. Thankfully, I only endured the first three!!!

Tony and I were given antibacterial drops and T3's and were sent home with orders to apply the drops every hour all night long, and told that the pain would increase towards morning. It was a lengthy and painful night, to be sure! We returned to the hospital in the morning to be seen by the ophthalmology resident, who confirmed that the cornea was effectively removed on the top layer of tissue, and cautioned that the pain would be, for a couple of days at least, "exquisitely painful" [his words]. Then we went down to the cornea specialist, who measured the wound and inserted a corneal bandage [basically a giant protective contact lens]. I knew the injury was severe and unique because all of the doctors were quite interested in the eye and wanted to have a look!

After another day of lying around in my codeine-haze, we returned for another follow-up. The cornea specialist was pleased with the healing that had already occurred. He confirmed that the wound was a chemical burn, and said that there shouldn't be much in the way of permanent damage, though I may experience some recurring pain in the eye.

On Monday, I am supposed to take out the corneal bandage ... I do not look forward at all to this, as the prospect of touching or putting anything in my eye is utterly horrifying right about now! But I will say that I am very grateful that nothing more serious occurred, and that the eye appears to be healing swiftly. I have posted a picture below, and you can see that it looks almost normal - no longer red and swollen shut!!! It still hurts on and off, though to a much lesser degree, and is extremely sensitive to light. I am actually astounded that I have been able to type this long, while staring at the glowing screen!

Needless to say, I will certainly be more careful if and when I resume using contacts. Though it now seems surreal and almost impossible that it ever hurt as much as it did for the first three days, I don't think I will ever forget the level of discomfort. It was truly the most pain I have ever had to endure [just to put it in perspective, the doctors in emergency said they have seen a 400-pound football player throw up from a small scratch, and that corneal injuries can be more painful than childbirth ... yikes!]. The one good thing about these mishaps is they do make you grateful for every minute of health and happiness, and make you ever more eager to take good care of yourself ... I know it sounds cheesy, but it's true! Plus, all of the kind words and concern remind you of those who care about you, which is totally amazing!

So here's to the health and safety of you and your loved ones!!! And now, back to the couch for me!

This was taken with Photobooth, so it is actually like a mirror image ... left eye looks like the right one!

Monday, August 01, 2011

On the road again!

Well, after some very busy weeks, we're setting out for a two-week holiday. First stop: Edmonton, for about a week of busy but fun visiting with family and friends. Next up: a glorious week in Bermuda, where we can catch up with Will, Franny, and the boys and hit the beach in earnest!

It's been a long time since we went to Bermuda last ... 2005, if I remember correctly! Things have definitely changed for our family there, with the arrival of two sons over the last few years. We really look forward to seeing the little guys! Skype is great, but it doesn't really compare with getting to spend time together.

We're also very, very excited that Leslie and her lovely little girls will be in town at the same time!!! It's been a long time - too long, actually - and it will be so nice to catch up in person!

Well, off I go to take care of some last-minute details before shipping out. Have a great couple of weeks, and check back later in August for some photos!

Bermuda 2005: After an extremely pleasing Mexican feast at Rosa's ... hope that place is still there!

Monday, June 27, 2011

This post is post-dated.

And by that I mean that a real post is owed some time in the near future. A lot has been going on this summer, between work and leisure, and it has been hard to keep track of time. When I said to Tony this morning that we are near the half-way mark of summer, he visibly blanched.

In the next few weeks, I am frantically trying to finish up some work before heading off for two weeks to Edmonton and then Bermuda. Before that happens, I promise to post something a little more substantial. For now, I offer this little outtake from a Dolly photo session last summer!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Springtime in Toronto

As this morning was particularly beautiful and sunny, I decided to bring along the camera to capture some of the beauty blooming around the neighborhood right now. In particular, I was eager to catch some snaps of the gorgeous, but short-lived, Magnolia blossoms. Due to a cold spring, these lovely flowers showed up a little later than the norm, and since I will be away in Halifax for most of the upcoming week, I fear I will miss most of their annual glory. Thankfully, Toronto only gets more lush as spring turns into summer, so there is plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks!

I am very, very excited to go to Nova Scotia - it will be my first voyage to the Maritimes, but hopefully the first of many! The purpose of the trip is the CAC Annual Meeting, where I will be delivering a short paper. But aside from the academic side of things, I think I will have a great time with my schoolmates checking out the amazing harbor city.

Magnolias in bloom.

Sunny yellow Tulips.

Springtime Dolly.

Ahhh, Daffodils!

Brightest red Tulips.

Dolls n' Dad.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pals from abroad!

In the last couple of weeks I've really been appreciative of my friends who live in far off lands.

Leslie, the creative and amazing talent that she is, sent me a very lovely home-made dress - it was such a delightful surprise after a long work day to receive such a nice treat! I will add some photos some time soon. It's so amazing to have pals with so much skill and creativity! Here's hoping we get a chance to visit together in Edmonton this summer. I would so love to see both Leslie and her little girls!!!

Last week, our friends from Wisconsin came to TO for the long week-end, to get one last trip in before Baby #2 arrives in the summer. We had lots of time to visit and had a great time enjoying tasty meals and fun board gaming! They are a delightful pair and we were sad to see them go. Here's hoping we get a chance to visit again with them in Wisconsin some time! [Side note: they brought some chocolate covered cherries ... not the maraschino cherries, but like big giant cherry Glossettes ... soooooooooo yummy!]

So, here's to good friends abroad!!!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sprouts to eat!!!

Only a couple of days after purchasing the sprouting jar, we are ready to give the final verdict!

The seeds which we started soaking on Day 1 (Tuesday) grew like crazy - in the dark! - and were about 1.5 inches long by Thursday afternoon.

Here is a shot of the nicely grown sprouts, taken on Day 3 (Thursday) ... not bad at all!!!

By Friday, the little sprouts were ready to eat, and so without hesitation we made an Asian noodle stir-fry with black bean marinated tofu, mushrooms, green onion, chilis, and the fresh sprouts. The home-grown mung bean sprouts were super crunchy, fresh, and sweet (thanks to the advice to grown them in the dark!), and utterly delightful!

We find that buying sprouts from the grocery store almost inevitably results in some being tossed out - they spoil SO quickly once opened! With the jar, we can basically have fresh sprouts for 1-2 meals every couple of days. Economically, the seeds are very cheap (e.g. $2.99 for the mung bean seeds), and given that we won't be wasting any due to spoilage I think we will definitely be saving money!

Our final verdict? This little apparatus is a fantastic purchase:
- A great investment, with the return of delicious, fresh, healthy sprouts!
- Very, very easy to use!
- Super fun to watch grow ... like an edible Chia pet.
- Lots of varieties to try, with opportunities to try new recipes.

In fact, we are seriously thinking about buying a second jar, so that we can stagger the batches of sprouts to ensure that we always have some fresh stock on hand!

F-U-N! (and delicious!)