It was the best, most, and first of times. 2017 was other adjectival things too, but I’ll stick to the good bits.
Best reads (in alphabetical order by author surname)
- Grand Hotel, Vicki Baum
- A Favourite of the Gods, Sybille Bedford
- Notes from a Dead House, Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Old Filth, Jane Gardam
- Hild, Nicola Griffith (This and the Gardam book may be traced back to some hot tips from Rohan Maitzen, queen of reading and writing about books)
- Time After Time, Molly Keane
- An Experiment in Love, Hilary Mantel
- True Grit, Charles Portis
- Elizabeth and Essex, Lytton Strachey
- Memoirs of a Polar Bear, Yoko Tawada
Best new restaurant
Toronto’s vegan scene is on the upswing again and the high point is Awai, a new tasting restaurant serving the most interesting food I’ve had in many years. It’s a no-menu, multiple course, flavour extravaganza during which they just keep bringing you different courses until you tap out. My husband and I went there for my birthday. We didn’t tap out.
Most surprisingly delightful restaurant meal of the year
Obviously, our meal at Awai was a show-stopping number, but we ended up at Hogtown Vegan for our wedding anniversary on December 17 and it was a 10 out of 10. (This is surprising because I didn’t eat there for several years after a few meals made me feel positively ill, and because the meals I had there earlier this year were fine but not special.) The food on December 17 was SO DAMN TASTY, we forgot to take our traditional anniversary selfie.
Best new (to me) recipe
Simple, fast, and utterly perfect: Angela Liddon’s 15-minute creamy avocado pasta. I am happy to eat avocado every day of the week and twice on Sundays, and this recipe helps make that an achievable goal.
The best parts about my trip to Halifax
We went to Halifax at the end of September, and the vegan scene there is becoming a big damn deal. One place in particular, EnVie, really stood out, in large part because of its superlative grilled mac and cheeze sammich.
We rented bicycles and rode around the city, including through Point Pleasant Park, which is finally starting to look like it’s recovering from that (those?) hurricane(s) 15 or so years ago. It was a damn fine day.
This raven or crow gazing with a stoic mournfulness at a tombstone in the Old Burying Ground was pretty kick-ass, too.
I’m as big a fan as the rest of the world is of Luis Fonzi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” (Bieber-free original, of course) as anyone else. But my 2017 jam has been “Love” by Psy and Taeyang. I adore everything about this song and everything about the video, which is cheerful and full of beautiful, talented young women being cool and strong and generally awesome.Most energizing music to work to
I’ve done all my best work this year listening to the complete piano collection from Studio Ghibli , Chopin’s mazurkas, (grumpy commentators on the YouTube say these are not real mazurkas; I wouldn’t know; they make my brain feel nice, which is all that matters to me) and Mitsuko Uchida playing some of Mozart’s concertos.
Most mind-blowing discovery
I found out that “Dream On” is an Aerosmith song. Steven Tyler, what did you do to your vocal cords? WHAT DID YOU DO???
Starting to learn Spanish in January–something I’ve worked on every day since–is hands down my best decision of 2017. I swear, I can feel the new neural pathways forming in my brain.
(Deleting my Twitter account is a close second, however, when it comes to the year in good life choices. My husband and I saw comic genius Dylan Moran do stand-up in 2016 and he said Trump is so terrible that the only thing he could do to surprise anyone anymore would be to &*%& his own excrement on live TV; Twitter has come to seem almost identical to that unappetizing image, so it seemed sensible to move on.)
First Spanish book I’ve ever read
A children’s book, not surprisingly, and I still had to spend a lot of time with the dictionary: Marina está en la Luna by Rubén Varillas and Gaspar Naranjo. It was super-weird, post-apocalyptic, and hopeful; just my kind of book.
That Jones did not, in fact, have a very aggressive form of cancer as the vets originally thought–just a bad case of colitis, which we’re successfully treating with steroids. There’s also the fact (perhaps not news to anyone who’s met her) that she’s so damn cool, she’s willing to walk in water to help heal a torn knee ligament and then pose, like a bawss, for physio graduation photos.
Most redneck moment
During a bicycle ride on the Cherry Beach trail this spring or summer, there was a guy inexpertly flying his super-loud drone over the heads of the many walkers, runners, and cyclists in the area; he was not in complete control of his new toy and it got too close for comfort a number of times. I had vivid and persistent visions, both while it was happening and for maybe a couple of weeks afterwards, of suddenly coming into possession of a shotgun, or maybe a musket, and shooting it very expertly out of the sky.
Most important photo I took this year, if not the most important photo ever taken, by anyone
Happy new year, friends. A toast, updated from the Robbie Burns classic, to meet the needs of these hard, modern days: may none of us have any reason to compare 2018 to being kicked in the teeth by a kick-boxer wearing a frozen boot.