Thursday, June 01, 2006

Doors Wide Open

So after the sore feet of Saturday, Sunday dawns just as bright and beautiful.

Instead of free beer, we go for free chocolate.

The lineup at the Cadbury Factory on Gladstone is impressive. To me, it feels like a 45 minute wait, which we hope will be worth it, but the small boy behind us, who dubs Jason "Mister Glasses" (kindly, since he has dubbed another man "Mister Potato Head"), excitedly points out that we are the caboose - and suddenly I am touched at his ability to make the end of the line seem like the most prestigious place. But soon we are not the end of the line; in our 45 minute wait, the line more than doubles behind us. When our tour is completed, the line exceeds 2 city blocks.

We see fashions painted in chocolate, the ever-evolving wrapper of Crispy Crunch, experience hair nets galore, rub cocoa beans between our fingers and "enjoy" their bitter flavour, and sit in on a "chocology" session where we learn the well-kept Caramilk secret, but since we'd have to kill you if divulged, I'll keep my lips sealed.

All of Canada's Caramilk stock is made in the basement of this very factory, which does emit a noticeable chocolate smell into the air in the whole block surrounding it. Of course we cannot leave the factory without a visit to the gift shop, apparently not usually open to the public. Jason is the proverbial kid in a candy store, carrying as much as his arms can handle, and he's got big arms. We do find a few rarities and hope that they don't melt during the rest of our day. Proceeds go to charity, so we feel less guilty, but entirely guilt-free.

We cover many more kilometres on our trip to Todmorden Mills, where we traipse through a confusing mix of antiquated old buildings, the world's shortest wildlife preserve (don't blink or you'll miss it), and renovated buildings now housing art shows. The best part of Todmorden Mills is the bathroom. While not the prettiest, it was clean, and I had the best pee of my life, which I had been holding at that point for about 3 achy kilometres. We also had the unique experience of hurtling our bodies down the Don Valley Parkway to get to Todmorden Mills. I much prefer uphill, even if it is more of a strain; downhill always makes me feel like a runaway train. I get wild-eyed and panicky, and I look as foolish as I sound. After thoroughly exploring Todmorden, Jason impels me to stop for something to eat. He sees that my blood sugar is dipping constantly, and we all know what that means.....

The Bitch is close. Poor Jason. When I run out of fuel, my mood suffers. I become far more irritable and cranky, and at that point, I am unable to say that I'm hungry and often I will even refuse to be fed. Jason has learned to force-feed me without me noticing, which is as difficult as it sounds....but if you had to be around The Bitch, you'd probably learn to adapt real quick too.

We get some relief from the heat when we head down to The Beach. The heat is nice, the humidity a bit oppressive, but the closer we get to the water, the more we feel the most welcome breeze we've ever known. Sure we get harassed by homeless guys, and drunk guys, and homeless drunk guys, but the feel of cooling wind on our cheeks is worth it.

I collapse onto the grass at the Beaches Library, where we're meeting the rest of our walking group. I don't even care if my new white skirt becomes my new grass-stained skirt. I gaze up at the sky through the branches of a tree, and I have to look an awfully long time until my brain confirms what my eyes are seeing -

This poor raccoon had climbed up a tree earlier in the day, possibly the night before, and had remained there, clinging desperately for dear life. He was terrified to fall, but even more terrified to take his chances coming down amongst so many humans. He was so paralyzed with fear that at first I was sure it was a dead animal lodged in the branches, but no, he was alive and displaying oodles of enviable patience.

Anyway, soon our walking tour of the beach was off and marching alone with a vengeance, disobeying dozens of traffic laws in the process, I'm sure. The guide was so enthusiastic about the area that he brought us to admire spots that were not very admirable at all. Soon Jason and I broke off the group, watched some old ladies beat the shit out of each other over some lawn bowling, avoided stepping on dirty discarded needles in the sand, and made our own tour of the beach, mainly consisting of looking, with a little bit of sitting mixed in.

And that was our crazy weekend, followed by a week so crazy that I'm only now posting about last weekend just before the new one is about to begin. Since Jason works full-time, I try to schedule my deadlines and meetings around him, but this week was too hellish for any of my old tricks to work. Jason spent his day off yesterday without me (he pretends to be sad about this), and only picked me up at night, during the worst storm ever, and Toronto's first tornado warning of the season. I'm now thinking that perhaps our weekend would have been more restful if we had gone into hibernation instead of hitting the pavement, but unfortunately, you can't take mulligans on weekends. And now we've got our fingers crossed that Jason's next day off, which is not until next Tuesday, will also be my next day off.

So if you've got any fingers to spare, think of us.

No comments: