Happy Holidays from Ottawa!

photo care of Jaime Woo (www.jaimewoo.com)
Vidal Haus Tree, photo care of Jaime Woo (www.jaimewoo.com)

There’s nothing like a few days off to rest and recharge the mind. I touched down in Ottawa 2 days ago and am happy to report I haven’t left the house since. It’s a welcome change from the bustle of Toronto, to be sure. Truthfully, however, it’s mostly due to the fact that I detest winter in Ottawa.* It’s incompatible with my footwear and in the battle for affection, I choose you Cole Haan, I choose you.

In my quiet time here, I’ve had the opportunity for great reflection. Being a first-generation Canadian with no extended family on the continent, Christmases have always been rather quiet. This year, however, with the inevitable passing of my dog (RIP Bea), and with my sister’s new life in Switzerland (she got engaged!), this Christmas has also had the eerie resemblance to an Agatha Christie novel. And then there were three…

The loss most palpable to me is that of my dog (I love you Carolina! I get to call you!!) There are so many little subconscious behaviours I catch myself doing which are so superfluous once a pet is gone. After 13 years, I don’t have to push the bread so far back on the counter anymore because no one is going to try to sneak herself a piece. When I pour myself some water, I find myself turning to pour some into a bowl that doesn’t exist anymore. When I drop some crumbs on the ground, I have to go sweep them up because my little furry vacuum just isn’t there. I may have shed a tear when I reached for the dustpan. I saw my father come across a picture of her yesterday and I watched him do the same.

In the end, while I’m a bit sad, I’m overwhelmingly happy. If, at the moment, the worse pain in my life is the loss of a beloved pet who led a full life, I’ve lived a charmed one. So, in the spirit of the season, I’m finally going to finish the blog post I started 6 months ago about what I learned when I said goodbye. Not because I think Christmas is depressing, but quite the opposite. When talking about our greatest and most transformative loves in this life, even when they’re over, it’s always a celebration.

*Minus Winterlude. Everybody needs a hug from an IceHog or Bonhomme at least once.

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Scotch Whiskey or Why I Hate Bees…

…but Today, a Little Less or Thanks to Matchstick The Macallan is the Sweetest Revenge.

Second chances.

Allow me to tell you a quick story of love lost and re-found in 3 scenes.

Opening scene: mid-August 2008, Edinburgh Scotland.

Enter from stage left: Me.

Arrive at the bonny hills of Edinburgh after an incredible week in Glasgow with my lovely Glaswegian friend Marcello. The Glasgow School of Art and the Glasgow Four still running through my veins like a drug. Hungry for more adventure (and maybe some steak and ale pie….and oat cakes).

Met at the train station by life-long friend, sometimes troublemaker (in the best sense of the word), and then-Canadian expat, Jenn. Together we’re unstoppable. Edinburgh Festival shenanigans are bound to ensue. Plans include a solo and LONG-AWAITED Scotch Whiskey Distillery tour. Could the world be any grander?

END SCENE

Calton Hill, in happier times
Jenn & I


Scene 2:

Time: Fast-forward through a glorious 3-day intermission of Scottish hi-jinks.  Have my game face on: time for the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh Castle and The SCOTCH WHISKEY DISTILLERY TOUR before a very tired Pamela has to head home.

Scene: Edinburgh Castle, overlooking the empire.

Enter stealthily from stage right: BEE


DAMN YOU BEE!!! I demand repayment for the epi-pen.

Long story short(ish), I accidentally folded a bee in the crook of my arm that day. The ensuing swelling, pain, and feverishness put me in a Benedryl-induced coma for the better part of three days. My arm was completely mangled and left me confined to the city.  Alcohol was out of the question.

And that’s when I lost my love: I was leaving Scotland empty-handed. The Whiskey dream had died. END. SCENE.

Or so I thought.

Fast forward a year.

Time: Late October, 2009

Scene: One restaurant at the Hazelton Hotel

Enter from street: Me

Imagine my surprise when in October I received an invitation from Matchstick Inc. to join their The Macallan Scotch Whiskey blogger tasting event. First of all, with only ONE blog post to date (I’m not complaining….thanks Matchstick!) I didn’t seem like the most likely candidate and secondly, it seemed just as unlikely that almost a year after my bee-induced disappointment, fate would so freely gift me an experience I had crossed an Ocean to find AND HAD LOST.

AMAZING.

The Macallan.

What transpired over the next few hours was fascinating and, consequently, one of the neatest experiences I’ve ever had with alcohol (Feel the power of he pun. Feel it!).  Much akin to a wine tasting, I, along with a group of equally lucky Toronto bloggers, was lead through an educational taste journey by a lovely man named Marc.

To distill all the things I learned about whiskey from this absolute delight of a man would be extremely difficult (too busy writing puns, perhaps?) but some key elements are these:

  • Like wine, the wood used in a whiskey’s casket greatly contributes to it’s flavour.
  • Colour, if natural like it is in the Macallan, points to the wood used in aging and not age itself.
  • All good things in life have great legs. (Yes, this applies to whiskey too.)
  • Everything in life is better when it’s done with love (and an 100 year sustainability plan doesn’t hurt either.)

Over the course of the evening I happily tasted the 10 year, 12 year, 15 year, 18 year and 21 year-old varieties.  I was really shocked to see how different each year was – it’s an entirely different drink/experience with each vintage: smokey, spicy, fruity, you name it.

In the end, the 18 year old scotch was my favourite (“dried fruits and ginger”), very closely followed by the 10, on the rocks (“light, with hints of fruits and heather honey.”)  A brief look at my bank statement has informed me that I will only be buying the 10 year Scotch for special occasions but after I secure a new pair of winter boots, buy it I will.

Needless to say, I came out of the event with a new-found appreciation for a complex, smooth, and luxurious drink.  But what really opened my eyes about scotch appreciation is that water or no water, provenançe or not, the love of scotch should really only come down to only one thing: taste.  And I really like it.

Epilogue:

Scene: Living room of my new apartment

Time: Way past my bedtime, throat too scratchy to sleep. Reading Wikipedia to better inform my Macallan post.

When trying to ascertain where, exactly, Speyside, Scotland is located, I happily learn that the Macallan is actually one of the ingredients in the cheaper blended scotch I was going to try in Scotland.  And while there is nothing quite like a Scottish experience© I’m left feeling I got an amazing scotch upgrade, surrounded by great friends, all in the comfort of the Hazelton Hotel.

To you, my little bee friend, wherever you are : HA!

Sleepless in Seattle Toronto hence a Blog Post


So it’s been a little while since my last post….(Eeek!) Summer always seems to have that ethereal quality where it slips right through your fingers just as you become consciously aware it’s there in the first place. Next thing you know, you’re singing November Rain without the slightest bit of irony and wondering what the heck happened to the last few months. Luckily for me, quite a bit. My adventures took me to Switzerland, Italy, Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, and, more locally, to grand evenings at Toronto LG Fashion Week, TIFF, HotDocs (technically in spring, but whatever), a few art/club openings, and the Toronto International Art Fair. Some back-blogging may be in order, but if I’m lucky there will be plenty more adventures to come and to blog about. *Crosses fingers*

One thing I definitely learned this summer is if you miss your chance to do something once, sometimes fate will let you do it again. Case in point: Scotch Whiskey or Why I Hate Bees But Today, a Little Less or Thanks to Matchstick The Macallan is the Sweetest Revenge. Subsequent blog post to come in the next 24, I promise.

In case you are curious, here’s a series of randomly selected BlackBerry photos from Summer ’09: Click Me! I lost my real camera on top of a mountain in Switzerland so please excuse the pixelation…

Hello world!

Well here we are! After almost two years of hemming & hawing I’ve decided to bite the bullet and have my own little piece of real-estate on the World Wide Web. Like me, I envision this space to be a bit of a mixed-bag of art, tech, fashion, interesting goings-on, and personal anecdotes.

I chose the title “Wandering Aesthetic” because I’m a flâneuse at heart. I love learning about anything that crosses my path, particularly when it comes to people and the way they choose to express themselves. For those of you that follow my Twitter feed, you also know that I love to share what I discover. Consider the flood gates opened!

In an obscure and convoluted way, “Wandering Aesthetic” is also a bit of a word play on the buddhist term wandering ascetic but I groan in writing “Appreciating art and communications is my path to Nirvana,” even if it’s true.

Ohhh, see? Right now. *Groooan*

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not quite sure yet how this blog will evolve, but I’m really grateful you’ve taken the time to pop in and see what it’s all about. I look forward to sharing with you my little joys and discoveries.

Much love,
Pam