and then I ate a knish



Rainer and I went on a short vacation to Toronto.  The Ontario Library Association was having their conference and Rainer invited me to go along for the second year in a row.  A little vacation from the perils of late winter: stifling sameness, cold, burnout, darkness.




We would take the GO train downtown each day and I hung out while Rainer made himself a better librarian. A little knitting in the convention centre, a little reading, a little tea, a little wandering. Between sessions it was more of the same but with Rainer: wandering, shopping for a suit jacket, eating Tom Yum soup, visiting Bakka Phoenix for books for the kids.


convention centre


look up


The best day was Saturday. I had 3 hours on my own in the morning and I let plans fall away and went with what I discovered and made me happy.


and then I ate a Knish


I walked the aisles of the St. Lawrence Market and marveled at the cuts of meat, the hunks of cheese, and the fresh pasta. I sampled mustard and settled on Hot Russian. I found smoked paprika. And then I ate a knish. Something I’d never seen before, although I’m pretty sure I’ve heard references to it on TV, usually with a New York accent. Mushrooms and potatoes wrapped in dough. Perfect.


Nicholas Hoare


A stop at the Nicholas Hoare book shop was nearly heaven on earth. Usually when I go into a store I brush off the “Can I help you?” inquiry. This time I said that I’d be interested in help, particularly finding history and biography. The woman walked me excitedly to the shelves – where the books are all faced! – and gave one mini-book review after another. We each had large stacks of books to carry by the time she was done. She settled the books onto a footstool and bade me settle likewise into the overstuffed armchair beside the fireplace. I happily complied and spend 90 minutes sampling all of them.

It was not easy but I finally cut them down to two books to purchase, but wrote every book down so that I can track them down later. I chose “Passionate Minds” – a biography/history/science book about Emilie du Chatelet and Voltaire. “Once Emilie du Châtelet settled with Voltaire, the two of them rebuilt an isolated chateau to create an extraordinary research center. It became like a berthed spacecraft from the future, and it was there that she began her greatest scientific work.” I also chose “Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China”, a history of the lives of a woman, her mother, and her grandmother as their lives stretched through tumultuous changes in China.

And after that, there was still a whole list of magnificent experiences: the Gala luncheon to end the conference, complete with flash mob choral performance and a speech by Jian Gomeshi, host of Q.  A trip to the AGO and chances to marvel at the treasures of the Maharajah and the Group of Seven.  A sampling of curries in a little restaurant near the GO train station in Mississauga with my aunt and uncle.

I’m rested.  I’ve got yarn, books, spices.  I’ve had new experiences and encountered new ideas.  I’m a better version of myself and have that much more to give.


3 thoughts on “and then I ate a knish

  1. kort says:

    …R becoming “a better librarian.” ah!

    and Passionate Minds in now on hold at my library.

    thanks for the virtual vacation!

  2. Amy Wirth says:

    I love Wild Swans. It’s been many years since I read it, but it’s one I make internal references to often. In fact, just the other day, I read something somewhere about someone who survived the Cultural Revolution and I thought of Wild Swans. I think of the author’s grandmother whenever I here about Manchurian China.

    Your daughter enjoy it as well, now or in a few years. I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have enjoyed reading it.

  3. Sasha says:

    It looks like a wonderful trip, and that book store would have been VERY tempting to me too I’m sure! I’ve read Wild Swans and thoroughly enjoyed it – hope you do too 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s