Happy Holidays From FoTS!

Well my traveling, eating beauties, another year has come and gone and I wish to take the time to wish you all a happy holiday season.  If you are traveling be safe and remember not to drink and drive. Just because you aren’t home doesn’t mean this rule does not apply to you. It still does because this is one instant it is better to be safe than sorry I always say.

If you are in your home land, the same advice applies to you. Have fun with your family this season, hug them extra hard and tell them you love them a little louder than you would normally. Remember, take nothing for granted and love will sooth you every time. Again, from my home to yours, love, laughter and blessings and I look forward to see you all in the new year!




Fantasy Trip – Paris

Come 2014, I would love to find myself in Paris for at least two weeks – Ideally, I would like to be there a month because I don’t think you can see what there is to see and do what there is to do in just a week. Unless I didn’t sleep and when I don’t sleep I get really cranky–shhh don’t tell anyone! lol. So, here are the things I would love to do:

You don’t see a movie in Paris without this bridge – I’m not sure what its called yet but I will find out.

Imagine, sitting at a quaint little diner taking a breather after a long day of exploring

Slightly allergic to coffee – but the headache would be worth it

The theater – Preferably La Bohème

These are just some of the things I want to do – Of course I’d love to jet over to Rome for the Coliseum and all that good stuff.

Yes, the above is a map of one of the routes. It’s a 13 hour drive but anything is possible, right?

Random Summer Musings

Summers in Toronto are supposed to be breath-taking – well aside from the smock being so thick sometimes you can’t see the CN Tower and you can’t breath right– I guess that could be considered Breath-taking – but its a wonderful place to be during the warmer months. There are plenty to do – from our International film festival to Caribana and the Pride parade – then there are different fests like Buskerfest and Afro-fest–then there are smaller things like garage sales, China Town a-buzzing, parties, concerts, beach days, Taste of Danforth! There are tons to do! But lately, I find I’ve been stuck. I guess I should start at the beginning.

Starting at the beginning–here goes–Toronto hasn’t been having a great summer this year. It’s like Toronto is bummed out and depressed – from rumors of our mayor being on crack (yeah THAT crack), to our CNE opening with people getting sick – its been a horrid summer for us. As the summer draws to a close however, I am forced to look back at all the things I wanted to do but didn’t get done. I’m suddenly feeling as if the whole summer was spent staring at deadlines and though meeting said strict timelines, nothing I wanted came to fruition.

I managed to get over to Centreville for the summer – spent a few hours walking over there and taking some pictures as well as teaching my niece about photography – I didn’t get to see nearly enough movies, didn’t have nearly enough beer and wing Saturdays, didn’t go to church once, nor travel anywhere. What is it about summer that we put so many things on some grand to do list and wind out crushing said list in a meaty fist at the end of August thinknig “aww screw it”?

There is something to be said for the summer time that make us feel so hopeful and positive. Perhaps it is the sunlight or the fact we no longer have to wear eighty layers of clothing just to avoid frostbite and amputations. There is something freeing about walking around in a little shorts or summer dress or being able to walk barefooted by the lake that just make me feel free and able to do just about anything. Then I leave the confort of the rocking waves and soft sand under my feet and get back to the crowd, noise and choas of my life, of the world around me, and I think well damn, here I go again.

Why is that? Why is the life we live so completely out of control? Think about it – you work, try to have a social life, try developing hobbies along with new skills, and constantly trying to improve yourself by taking a few extra classes at some college or university as well as hitting the gym, raising a family and the list of things we bombard ourselves with goes on and on. We don’t have time to breathe, to slow down and lay in the sun or just to sit down and breathe. Then if we do take some time for vacation we bring cameras, and books and cell phones and we worry that when we get back to our lives we would have fallen behind on the choas. That means, when we get back from time away, we need a vacation from our vacation.

And–even if we do take time away, we feel guilty for taking a break so we didn’t burn out because for some reason we fancy ourselves superman (I would have said Batman but since Ben Afleck is the new batman I lost all respect for the franchise- just my 2 cents).  Why? Why do we feel the constant need to be on green–to have our fingers so firmly stuck on GO that we miss our lives completely? It does not bring us happiness–sure it might bring us a little faster to our graves so who are we really helping when we’re burnt out and frazzled?

No one takes time to unplug and just BE anymore. I got on a bus and I watched these men in suits and the moment I got on the bus and sat across from them they didn’t look up from their screens once. First, they missed my gorgeous self and second, they didn’t know if I was some punk robber or what. They had their headphones plugged in, fingers poised and scrolled all during the 45 minute ride and when the bus reached the final stop, they got up and headed off the bus, looking up once to ensure they wouldn’t fall on their faces.

I watch teenagers on the bus, sitting beside each other texting. When did ignoring our friends who are right in our faces for others on the other side of a keyboard become more important? Somewhere along the way we’ve developed this obsession with technology and this force is causing marriage break downs, friendship implosions and some utterly horrid things.

What brought this on? Lately I’ve been thinking of taking some time off work, get on the GO train and just head somewhere. Not particularly sure where but I just wanted to take a me weekend. But each time I think about it, I think of all the things I would be missing out on, like working to get paid, and edits and other priorities in my life that barred me from doing what I really wanted to do.  I haven’t taken a break all summer – so who am I fooling?

It is time to look up from the blind screens of our lives – release the Matrix if you will. We have to look around at the world with new eyes, see what’s right in front of us and love those in front of us. We have to set new goals and stick to the plans of reaching them–for myself, I find I have to stop putting everyone else ahead of what I need to grow further as a person and just learn to live life for what it is.  So, pick a dream (a positive one) and go for it.




The Wasp Factory

This blog is morphing into something else all together and I am cool with that. It was orignally meant for travelling stuff but come on – I just read THE WASP FACTORY by Iain Banks! How can I not blog about that?

Okay, so the other day I went to this gorcery store across from my house. It’s a fairly big chain. I went in specifically for laundry detergent – but that’s not always what I leave the store with. Ever have those times when you enter a certain store for one thing and come out $80 bucks later with a whole bunch of crap you didn’t mean to buy in the first dang place. But that’s life, right?

Anyways, you know those bins they have at the front of stores that they toss in all these discount books–books that you would find for like $20 before now lay in this god-forsaking heap for about $3. But it’s fun for me because I LOVE books–even though I don’t have the space for them. I spent a good ten minutes, really digging through this bin. I’m talking turning it up, sinking my hand into the bottom as far as I can go and pulling up books, reading the backs and discarding them to the side until I grabbed this tiny book called THE WASP FACTORY. First of all the title was a tad strange to me and I couldn’t think of what a Wasp Factory was. Even after reading the back.

I read the little blurb on the back, shrugged and dropped it into my shopping basket. Why? There was something about the title and what I read on the back that drew me in. The mystery of the title and my need to know what in the world a Wasp Factory was had me from the beginning. .

All the back of the book said was this:

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I’d disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim.

That’s my score to date. Three. I haven’t killed anybody for years, and don’t intend to ever again.

It was just a stage I was going through.

I couldn’t wait to get home and read this book.”

Now, let me start out by saying this book may have a main character who is a teenager but this book is NOT for children or the faint of heart. It is dark, morbid and oh so good.

The minute I got into this book I was hooked. I was disturbed and amazeD about this child, living on this island with this man who doesn’t give a damn about anything except if the child ate.  Frank was left to wander the island, and in “Town” getting drunk with his best friend Jamie. Frank, disgusted by girls, spent most of the book killing animals (mostly rabits) and insects which most would argue is the precursor for serial killers. He then ventured into killing people (his cousins and his baby brother). The reason for killing Paul was so crazy I had to stop reading, breathe and read the chapter again.

Frank takes pleasure in his kills but he also sees them as a necessity because his Wasp Factory warned him about the bad things that were coming for him. He heeds the Factory’s warning, especially when it told him fire was coming. That same night he finds out his brother Erick, had escaped the mental hospital he was committed to. His brother Erick sustained a horror that left him crazy, trying to feed the town’s children maggots and worms while lighting dogs on fire.

Sometimes through his madness Frank makes sense. His take on life and how to live it was somewhat twisted, but then again his whole existence was a little bit altered. Why? His father is a liar. I don’t mean liar like he told Frank about Santa clause or the easter bunny, I mean a liar as in major lies from what happened to his mother to who Frank truly was. This man spent his whole life telling the child so many lies that when Frank was old enough to read and understand and ask questions, he stopped believing a word his father says. They were earth-shattering lies, lies that would bring a grown man to his knees.

Frank indulges in his own weird, heart-breaking Shamanism including his own pee, dead bugs, rat heads, dead bird heads, sometimes live birds, candles, bombs, the skull of the family’s dead dog, trophies from his murders, and a whole host of other things a 16 year old should not be indulging. To him it is all real and Frank is not your typical 16 year old.

This book was a work of art – and I would highly recommend it–if you’re not easily grosed out. The big twist in the end will have you blinking and re-reading the final two chapters!



Greyhound – Sigh

Found through Google Search

Every time I tell my friends I’m about to get on a Greyhound, they laugh and tells me they are waiting for the rant when I come home. I’ve been taking the Greyhound for about ten years now (in college and university I took them every couple of months to go to and from school). And Greyhound has yet to have me disappoint them.

This go around, I was to go to Bridgeport Connecticut (coming soon in another post) for my father’s wedding. The issues started when I called Greyhound, told them where I was going, when I was going there and ask how much. Their website said $170, to go from Toronto to Bridgeport Connecticut via New York City.  When I called them, they told me it was $198.72 to go from Toronto to Bridgeport Connecticut via New York City. When my mom called them, they told her a different price and when my father called them they told him a whole other price. Nevertheless, because I’ve been working like a crazy person and going to school full time as well as nanowrimo, my mom was downtown and close to the bus station so she bought my ticket. She was charged $170 for the round trip ticket.  I figured, okay…drama complete.

When my mom got the ticket and I took it, it was heavy. So I rolled it out and read each piece. The tickets read as follows:

Toronto to Buffalo.

Buffalo to Syracruse.

Syracruse to New York City Port Authority

New York City Port Authority to New Haven

New Haven to Bridgeport.

After 14 hours on bus from Toronto to New York, I get to Port Authority but this place is like going through a maze, blindfolded, backwards and in the dark. No one knows where anything is so I spent most of the time going up the escalators, down the escalators until I finally I found where I was supposed to be. I stood there and got to talking to this lady and told her the bus was taking me to New Haven then to Bridgeport and she tilted her head and said. “I’m not sure why they printed it like that. Going to New Haven then to Bridgeport is going around in circles…it’s like doing it backward.”

I blinked at her–exhausted and shook my head. When the driver finally left NYC, they stopped in White Plaines, Stamford and then went on to Bridgeport. That part of my Greyhound journey was complete and I thought–“not bad.”

Then we had to return.

First we over slept and had to rush like crazy people to the bus station. We got there and our bus was there. (We now is myself and my sister). We hurried over to the door and said to the driver.

“Morning! We’re going to New York Via New Haven.”

Driver said (without looking at our ticket) “This is not your bus. Go ask information.”

We thanked him, wished him a good day (I am not kidding. We wished him a good day) and hurried inside to information.

We explained to information what happened and the guy there turned and pointed at the departing bus. “No, no,” he said. “That is your bus leaving right now.”

Let me tell you how I wanted to punch someone in the face. I was so upset. He looked at us and told us it wasn’t our bus and now had the NERVE to leave us when we were trying to confirm. Okay *breathes* so the guy was a douche….surely another bus was coming so my sister and I could meet our connections to, me Toronto and her DC. Surely!!

But no. Greyhound doesn’t work that way. If you miss one bus you’re basically screwed for the next one. What we had to do? Drag all our crap up an elevator, down a long bridge that was supposed to be warmer than outside but no, it seemed to be half built and dragged on for two blocks to the local Metro train that rain between CT and NYC, shell out almost thirty bucks to get on that train to carry us not to Port Authority like we needed to be at and that the Greyhound would have taken us to, but to Grand Central Station.

At that point, I wanted to cry because for some STRANGE reason the machines to buy the tickets were not reading my credit card OR my CANADIAN debit card and the ticket booth wasn’t open.

My sister and I sat there, staring at the amtrak and local train ticket machine with contempt until finally the ticket place opened. We bought our tickets and got on the train. It wasn’t bad on there. It was clean, large seats, comfy seats because after my trip to CT my tail-bone was sore and hurting every time I moved.

So, my sister and I took that time to take more pictures, talked, went through pictures from the wedding and just spend more time together. We reached NYC earlier than if we’d taken the Greyhound but there’s a leg of our trip we paid for twice! Finally we went up to the Greyhound counter to have my sister’s ticket reissued.  We told the guy at the counter what happened and he said if we could give him the tickets or receipts from the metro local train, he’d give us a refund. I blinked at him, waiting to reach over with a bull horn and scream “WHAT LOCAL TRAIN YOU KNOW GIVE RECEIPTS FOR TICKETS?” but my sister grabbed my hand and I breathed. I showed him the unused Greyhound tickets and he still wouldn’t give me the  money back. I decided not to let this joker raise my blood pressure any further. I was going to have lunch with my sister and it was going to be yummy.

We hugged and parted ways because her bus to DC was at gate 64 and mine was at 22 on different side of Port Authority. I finally found my gate and they were starting to board.  I got to the door and there were TWO buses. The female driver took my ticket and was ripping it and the male one stopped her. Then they proceeded to argue about the fact that I was getting on the wrong bus that I had to wait.  I stood there, amused they’d do that before a customer and finally the woman won and ripped the ticket. I asked which of the buses I was to board and she pointed. I collected the rest of my tickets and hurried to the bus. The gentleman took my suitcase, smiled, asked where I was going and I told him. He wished me a good trip.

Not all Greyhound personnel are filthy creatures after-all.

The trip went well until we got to this middle of nowhere place and was early we got a half an hour break. Then we stopped again and again until finally we were at Buffalo. I was going back to sleep when someone poked me. I lifted my head and she told me we had to get off because we were switching buses… WHAT???

I hastily checked my ticket for a transfer but it said nothing.  This had to be a joke! I looked around but aside from the woman that woke me, I was the only other person on the bus. I grabbed my crap and got off, grabbed my suitcase and went inside with the others. After using the bathroom, I found a ticket counter and asked. Apparently our driver got us to Buffalo so early, all they could think of doing was hording us off our bus, unto another bus which we now have to wait an hour to get on. By this time it was after eight at night. I’ve been trying to get a smooth ride home since 7AM and I was no impressed.

Anyways, we waited and waited and waited…the bus was supposed to leave at 9:30PM. That didn’t happen until around 9:50PM.

Then to top it all off…I was “randomly” selected for additional screening at the border!

Now, I ask you, wasn’t that an amazing trip *sarcasm*


[Fantasy Trip] Xingping China

There are many places on my list of places to go and CHINA is one on my very long list. I’m not sure where

Image taken by John and Sun Ling

the idea came from to go to China at first but I wrote a book called A LOVER’S WISH that had the two main characters rushing to China since the male’s father was ill. Then I figured why just go to the same big cities? Why not let the characters go somewhere smaller, somewhere not many would even think of? So I hit the internet and my mother’s old, paper encyclopedias and the Toronto Reference Libary and BAM! Xingping came up.

This place from what I can see and from what I’ve been told by students I’ve met from China is a beautiful place. From the fog covered mountains to the Li River and the boats that travel along it. There is just something quite peaceful about this place with all the research I’ve done on it. Actually, with all the research I’ve done one would think I would be completely bored with it and not want anythign to do with Xinping ever again. But that is not the case.  The more I look into the place, the more I want to go. This is one of my fantasy trips. I am aiming for it in five years but who knows what will happen? One day I just might throw my hands in the air and head to the airport with nothing but the clothes on my back, my passport and money.

That’s a scary thought.