There are so many things in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC that there is also a companion facility outside of the city in Chantilly, Virginia.  The Udvar-Hazy Center is basically giant aviation hangars filled with aviation and space artifacts, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, and the space shuttle Discovery.

I was enamoured with the space shuttle.  It was massive.  It was beautiful.  Even now (our trip was in July 2013 – yes, I’m behind…) I can’t believe it.  That thing was in SPACE.  Science is amazing.

Front view.

Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center - Discovery Front

View of the back.

Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center - Discovery Back

Me on the 2nd floor (I told you it was big!) in front of Discovery.


Robin in front of the Canadarm (I), which is a robotic arm that is remotely operated by an astronaut inside the spacecraft.  Between Discovery and the Canadarm, we were definitely representing both our nationalities.

Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center - Canada


It’s Kind of a Funny Story

by Allison on March 17, 2014

in For the Love of Books

It's Kind of a Funny Story

What I’m Reading: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself.  That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint – it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out.  They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip.  So you just keep quiet.


Around Here: Tea, Snail Mail and Travel

by Allison on March 15, 2014

in This Is It

Around Here: March 15, 2014


Hard Twist 2014 – This is Personal

by Allison on March 10, 2014

in Community

Are you a Toronto local?  Well, if so – I stumbled across an art thing that I quite enjoyed and you might as well.  And it’s FREE.  Added bonus.

Hard Twist 2014 - This is Personal - Unravelling II

The Gladstone Hotel’s 8th Annual Juried Textile and Fibre Arts Exhibition is currently being showcased.  The concentration this year is “This is Personal”, exploring the often hidden layers between the public and personal.  I discovered it by accident; I was early for a brunch outing and wandered upstairs while waiting for the clock to catch up.

Hard Twist 2014 - This is Personal - Fine Thank You II

And of course, the section I stumbled onto was a whole hallway that focused largely on mental health.  Thanks for the nudge, Universe.  The two pictured below are the ones that caught my eye the most.

Hard Twist 2014 - This is Personal - Fine Thank You

This was a piece called “Fine Thank You” by Vicki Burns that was made out of fabric and different embellishments.  Each prescription had different details.  I found them both funny and thought-provoking about the use of prescriptions in the field of psychiatry.

Hard Twist 2014 - This is Personal - Take Twice Daily

This is a woven wall hanging called, “Take Twice Daily” by Alexa Hatanaka. The common side effects listed were only able to be seen well from certain angles.  It was fascinating to look at it from different points of views to see which side effects were more clear.

It runs until Sunday, April 27th and is open from noon-5pm daily.  If you’re in the Queen and Dufferin area, swing by and check it out!


Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum - Astronaut Mural

On our visit to Washington DC last summer, we visited both locations for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.  The one located within the city has over 150,000 square feet of exhibition space yet there is still a second location for the ‘larger’ artifacts.  There was so much to see in all of the Smithsonian museums.  For someone who isn’t necessarily a huge aviation nut, it was still so fascinating.

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum - Astronaut Requirements

Currently I meet two out of the five (supposedly basic) requirements to be an astronaut for the United States.

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum - Jet

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum - Propeller

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum - Breitling Orbiter

This is the Breitling Orbiter 3, the first balloon to fly around the world non-stop in 1999.  Their safety font was a little on the small side for my liking.

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum - Mercury Friendship

Our reflection in “Friendship 7″, the Mercury spacecraft piloted by John Glenn that was the successful first attempt by NASA to place an astronaut in orbit.

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Currently :: March

by Allison on March 5, 2014

in This Is It

It’s pretty early-on in March, but it feels like this winter has been a particularly rocky one.  I thought I had experienced all the different types of winter Toronto had to offer but this has been one that makes me desire more palm trees and less icy sidewalks.

March 2014 :: Currently

appreciating pink nail polish

stretching my brain’s capacity for change

saving pennies for adventures

reading A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

thinking about hula-hooping in the park once it is really spring

listening to Wes Anderson soundtracks

drinking peanut butter & banana smoothies

being my typical hermit self

quoting Steve Martin in “The Jerk

looking for the difference

trying to make my hair as big as possible

remembering another version of me


Partners for Mental Health - Right By You

Early morning.  I was sitting in the waiting room for my thrice weekly treatment at CAMH when the news broke of the death of Christopher Peloso, husband of former Ontario deputy premier George Smitherman.  I immediately burst into tears.  It just hit too close to home.  I sat there clutching what felt like my zillionth mood survey.  Bob Rae has since proposed a national plan on suicide prevention and Tim Powers has also commented on the need to treat mental health more tangibly.  There are all these bureaucratic measures people want to take.  These additional measures of support need to be provided, need to be put into place.

Everyone has a mental health to care for and often issues arise that make one vulnerable to being suicidal.  Christopher Peloso was 40.  Neither adults nor youth are untouchable.  Recently the Toronto District School Board released the statistic that they are aware of about 700 suicide attempts in the 2012-13 school year.  Did you know that suicide is the #1 cause of non-accidental death among youth?

As adults some of us have developed coping mechanisms that youth aren’t old enough to have cultivated yet.  Sure, these coping mechanisms aren’t always the healthiest – but that’s a discussion for another day.  The point is that when we’re young, we don’t have the support networks in place.  The ground is unsteady.  We haven’t figured ourselves out yet: who we are, what we like, the standards to which we hold outside influences.

And that needs to change.

This past fall, Partners for Mental Health launched the Right By You campaign, which focuses on bringing Canadians together in order to help youth getting the help they need in regards to the mental health issues that seriously affect them.

So, come on in!  Participate in bringing more awareness and hopefully more bureaucratic change to funding youth mental heath support.

  • Sign the petition. So quick!  Show your support for the issue.
  • Spread the word. Be it sharing a fact sheet on Facebook, gathering signatures for our petition, or hanging up a poster.
  • Tell the government. Let your voice be heard. For change to happen, our local representatives need to hear from their communities.


Just Another Link List: March 2, 2014

by Allison on March 2, 2014

in (I Love) Lists

Just Another Link List: Mar 2, 2014

Expecto Patronum: Lessons from Harry Potter for Social Justice Organizing | Between the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s Army, J.K Rowling’s magical world contains reliable lessons to work towards systemic changes in our own world.

5 Lies You Were Told About Grief | “The truth is there are losses you never get over.”

In Conversation: SNL’s Lorne Michaels | I haven’t seen that many extended interviews with the founder of Saturday Night Live.  This gives a glimpse into the type of long hours required every week.

Jennifer Lawrence and the History of Cool Girls | I dig J.Law.  This discussion of what it means to be a ‘Cool Girl’ throughout a timeline of Hollywood (Clara Bow, Carole Lombard, Jane Fonda)  is fascinating.

Drugs Will Kill Your Friends | Comedian Rob Delaney reflects on his time in rehab, touching on how the adversary of one’s own self is often the most daunting.  Adapted from his book, on which I have placed a hold at the library.


Neil Gaiman on Escapism

by Allison on February 24, 2014

in Inspiration Fragments





“People talk about escapism as if it’s a bad thing… Once you’ve escaped, once you come back, the world is not the same as when you left it. You come back to it with skills, weapons, knowledge you didn’t have before. Then you are better equipped to deal with your current reality.”

–Neil Gaiman, “Five Things We Learned From Author Neil Gaiman in Miami


Pump Up The Jam

by Allison on January 29, 2014

in Audio, Snapshots + Video,The Process

The playlist of songs that help me pump up the jam morphs every season.  Songs are added for different reasons: catchiness, upbeatitude (sure, that’s a word), lyrics, or even because they’re attached to a happy nostalgic memory.  I have been trying to make the mornings a bit easier by pumping up the jam.

Here are five examples from the list.

Queen – “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Florence + the Machine – Shake It Out (Live on SNL)

Dolly Parton – Travelin’ Thru

Ben Folds Five – Do It Anyway (feat. the Fraggles)

Beyonce – Run the World (Girls)

If you have any favorite go-get-up-and-get-em songs, feel free to share them below.