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Canyon Ranch

I’ve just returned from a week at Canyon Ranch Spa in Tuscon, Arizona with my mom and step-sister. I was looking forward to it – mostly because I’d be away. And it would be warm. But Other People? They were delirious on my behalf, extolling the joys and wonders of the place with almost cult-like adoration. My mother made the plan a year ago. My step sister had been counting down the days. Envious friends gave me pointers – the best classes, the best treatments, the Mongolian Salmon. Me? I viewed it with a sense of trepidation. I’d been there 25 years ago and, aside from hanging with my pal Jayne and doing meditative breathing with Yoko Ono, the highlights were few and far between.

Camp Canyon Ranch

Camp Canyon Ranch

I remembered a kibbutz-like place with cheesy Southwestern furnishings and dark carpets. A dining room with faux-alcoholic drinks and fitness cheese. Portion control and aerobics. Handwriting analysis and cooking demos. Feeling the burn inside and out.

Those were the late 80’s. Those days are done.

After being there for a week and being home for all of 3 days, I can safely say: I’ve been Ranched.

Canyon Ranch in 2013 is no mere fat farm. In fact, I think I gained weight (OK, I know I did but I’m pretending it’s muscle!). While it still retains it’s kibbutz-meets-summer camp vibe, the rooms have been updated and the decor is charming. As if it even matters – you’re never inside.

Pool with a view.

View from the pool.

Portion control has been replaced with All You Can Eat: salad and pasta bars, breakfast buffet and omelet station. And if the calorie count and nutrition data on the menus doesn’t stop you, sharing meal after meal cruise-style (lamb chops for the table!) most certainly will.

Aerobics? Bah! No feeling the burn in these classes. You’re feeling the music: DJ Dance Party (with live DJ), World Beat (live drummers), Long & Lean Barre Class (live leg shakes). Zumba (live hot instructors). Spin and stretch. Cardio Combat. TRX ‘n Flex. Yoga. Pilates. Straight up cardio machines and weight rooms. There’s something for every body. Morning walks, hikes and bike rides.

Kinda proud. Kinda scared.

Kinda proud. Kinda scared.


A long way up....A long way down...

A long way up….A long way down…

And then there are the treatments. I was scrubbed, rubbed and…um…tugged. Salt exfoliation. Deep tissue manipulation. Lazy Yoga Thai Massage. I was whacked with herbal poultices, Loofah’d with dried Ayurvedic herbs and Infused with oxygen. I even had 20 minutes worth of hot oil dripped on to my hair and scalp.

IMG_4073

Hot tubs. Cold pools. Eucalyptus inhalation. Alpine steam. Sauna. Swimming. Even shopping! With a high end boutique and a Ranch General Store, our nights were busy with browsing. And Bingo.

The week we were there the average age hovered around 67. So, naturally I felt very young, fit and spry. No celebs (that we knew of), nothing too fancy. Early to bed. Early to rise. Good, clean living. Topped off with a cookie-of-the-day. Every day.

As the week went on, our extended group planned for next year. I humoured them, knowing more exotic, exciting and far flung locales awaited me. Or at least Miami.

And then I came home. And now? Listening to the raindrops and the hum of my heating I’m surfing their site and planning my next visit.

Yup, I’ve been Ranched.

Giving our Canadian "spring" The Finger.

Giving our Canadian “spring” The Finger.

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April 10, 2013   No Comments

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Glee vs The Volcano

It’s the 20th of April. Tuesday. For the past 3 months I’ve been dreaming of this night. The night I’d spend on an Air Canada Airbus, flying across the Atlantic in my business class seat – nay, fully reclining bed. In a pod. With a privacy screen. Sure, I’d arrive jetlagged and spent – after all who wants to waste a business class flight SLEEPING?! I’d be staying up to enjoy every second of it.

But ’twas not to be.

Bloody Ash. Stooooopid Icelandic volcano. My story’s not a bad one. I canceled my flight a day in advance and re-booked for a couple of weeks from now. I’m not stranded, in transit or missing anything or anyone. I’m just staying put. At home. Constantly checking the status of the various flights to Heathrow because I’ve become addicted to British Airport Authority updates and all things Eyjafjallajokul (and yeah I had to cut ‘n paste that one). I’m also watching the neighbouring volcano, Katla, the one that could really f&ck us all up.

It’s all so “Day After Tomorrow”, no?

I tried to put on a happy face. Until I took a shower and the pipes two floors down exploded. That’s right readers, it’s the plumbing. Again. No running water, no flushing, five people.

A far cry from business class.

But there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon as the 5 grand dig begins. And there was happiness in the air tonight, not just sewage.

Because of Glee.

Everyone watches Glee, right?

RIGHT?!?

If you’re not. You should be. And you should start with tonight’s Madonna Tribute episode. Yep, all Madge, all the time. The results? As Kurt says: Madge-ical.

Cheesy, yes. Absolutely, unapologetically and resoundingly so. And that’s what makes Glee work. Musicals + one hour TV does not a perfect partner make. And to be honest, I was getting nervous about Glee. It started with a bang, totally remaking – and rejuvenating – network television. And Journey. “Don’t Stop Believin’?” Never liked it the first time round, but love it all Glee’d up.

As the shows went on, they had their highs (Kurt’s “Single Ladies”) and lows (most of Emma’s numbers). But I was getting nervous. It felt like the writers were pulling out the wrecking ball….and focusing on the adults. Sure “Acafellas” is a funny name for a group, but I’m not so big into Will Schuester. His fake-pregnant, soon-to-be-ex-wife? Yes yes yes. His romance with the bush baby Emma? Only as the B-story. Keep it with the kids.

But I needed Glee tonight. Early Glee. I needed to know that, stuck at home with backed up toilets, I could count on television to take me away….

And tonight, thanks to Sue Sylvester, it did. Fact is, Jane Lynch could stand stock still and have everybody howling. She’s a master of comic timing and delivery but lately even she, well, her rivalry with Will, was starting to grate …. Until tonight.

Tonight was Sue’s night. Her obsession/tribute to Madonna could’ve been a trainwreck. But it was glorious. She was glorious. Made me (almost) forget about the men I was paying to dig up my front yard tomorrow morning. Even my pvr cutting out (AGAIN) with 5 minutes to go couldn’t put a damper on Glee tonight.

Perhaps it’s becasue I was at the end of my rope. Or, more likely, because it was coming off yet another dreary American Idol. “Songs of Inspiration”?! Puh-lease. Songs to sleep by. Or cringe. Call me a cynical bitch but I thought Mamasox’s breakdown was as contrived as….well, the show itself. I didn’t see any tears. I think she was working it. And it worked. Maybe I’m just over it. Between the youngster and the grinner and the all-round earnestness there’s just not much more left to say other than: it blows. You can read all about it on all the other blogs/mags/sites. Bye bye Simon. Tick tock Idol. Hello Glee!

Just when I feared it had prematurely run its course, Glee sucked me back in. Welcome back! My name is MOAM. And, yeah, I’m grounded by Icelandic ash. And practically living in a campground without the luxury of an outhouse. But I’ll say it loud: I’m a Gleek and I’m proud.

For now. The winds could change…..

Posted by Mother of all Mavens at 10:21 PM

3 comments:

Anonymous said…

ANOTHER BRILLIANT BRILLIANT BLOG..
YOU NEVER EVER KNOW WHEN ONE OF THESE DAYS OR SHOULD I SAY BLOGS WILL HIT THE PAPERS.
YOU ARE THE BEST BEST EVER

11:43 PM

Anonymous said…

your ends are fab! Don’t tell m ethe PVR cuts out again!!! Why do they do this? We shoudl start a petition and send it around and then to the networks to stop screwing with our recording!!!

9:19 AM

Leslie said…

Could NOT agree more, my friend! You are hilarious. What? No flushing? I would cry, and cry hard. You’re my hero.
Glee lost me, as you said, focusing on the dumb-dumb adults, and frankly rarely seeing Sue Sylvester anymore, what were the writers thinking? You’re being an enemy to comedy if you don’t utilize Jane Lynch to her fullest! Then the Madonna episdoe, sweet jesus, that was GOOD!
And as my gay friend said about American Idol this season, move on dot org! it is seriously B-O-R-I-N-G! sadness, fo’ real.
love you!

April 20, 2010   7 Comments

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Glutton for San Fran

My man turned 40 last week. Trying to figure out where to go and what to do for this particular fellow was a bit of a nightmare. He’s one of the most social cats I know, so a party could be deadly – in every way. And trying to pick a handful of pals for an intimate soiree would result in no end of ribbing, jabs and possibly even stabs, so that was out. A weekend away with the family was out of the question. Aside from the fact that we’d be going South in December, hanging with the under-6 crowd wasn’t really the ideal way to ring in a 40th. Plus we do that every day, so no chance Lance. The whole thing was giving me enough anxiety to give me a mid-life crisis.

So away we went. Gone. Outta here. Sa-yo-na-ra. Adios suckers.

Aaaaahh….if only it were that simple. Planning an escape in mid-November is less than ideal. The hot spots aren’t hot, the exotic spots are too far for 3 days, and the close ones had the same weather sitch as being home. Hit or miss. My man claims he’d be happy in a neighbouring basement with a couple of bottles of wine. But we all know that would suck. Everybody says that – they don’t care, they could go anywhere, etc. CRAP! Having spent one birthday in Niagara Falls, and another in Los Angeles, can you guess which was infinitely more enjoyable?!? Uh-huh, go west young man.

And so we did. Our surprise destination was San Francisco. My man always talked of it adoringly and I’d never been so it really was a no-brainer (once I got the idea into my head, that is).

The big reveal came the day of his birthday. In verse. I contemplated the at-the-airport suprise but post 911 airports aren’t so festive. Plus half the fun of going out of town is bragging….I mean, getting excited about it. Plus, let’s face it – it’s hard enough to pack for myself, let alone choosing his outfits.

He read my dare-I-say awesome poem (which I wanted to post but he wouldn’t let me and it is/was his birthday) and, as I suspected, he hadn’t a clue. Genius surprise! California wasn’t even on his radar for this birthday, which could be why it was all the sweeter…

That, or the food.

Who knew the City by the Bay was such a gourmet paradise? “Fog City”??? Totally inappropriate. Every day was sunny and glorious. It should be renamed “Food City” because, aside from walking off all the meals on those crazy hilly streets, all we did was eat. And some other stuff which I shall leave to your dirty little imaginations. This is a family site for f&cksake!

Frisco. NorCal. SF. San Fran. In three days we couldn’t possibly sample all the city had to offer….Nor did we have a chance to venture away from the city limits, let alone the rest of the Bay Area or 49-Mile Drive. But we did see – and eat – blew our mind.

First off, the Hotel.

Campton Place
in Union Square. We thought of a couple others but this was the winner for us terms of location – and price. It’s part of the Taj group of hotels. Swanky swanky. Tho this once was kinda Taj-lite, it was still AOK. Especially because of the INCREDIBLE concierge, Kyle. He figured us out in about 7 minutes. Maybe he’s somewhat telepathic, or maybe we’re easy reads, but either way, he had us down and pointed us in the right direction.

Taj Campton Place

But back to the food….

First stop, Yank Sing. Best Damn Dim Sum. Ever. Apparently there are two locations. We hit the one in the Rincon Center. As we walked through a deserted (and very clean) financial district we hit this odd – and empty – mall. And then we followed the waft of garlic and found ourselves in dumpling heaven. Traditional dim sum like Har Gow and Sui Mai? Stupendous! Szechuan chicken? Crazy. And the chili fried green beans? We wanted to take the sauce home….Oh, wait, we did! Yes, you can even get their “delightfully spiced” (their words) chili sauce to go. the only regret? That we didn’t buy some more when we had the chance. And they don’t do mail order (I’ve already checked).

From there it was a short walk to the Ferry Building. On Saturdays there’s a farmer’s market there. We were too stuffed from our dim-sum-a-thon to go too wild, but there’s an old saying that you feast with your eyes. So we did.

After sleeping off the jet lag (and dim sum hangover) we hit Spruce in Pacific Heights. The bar and main dining room were pretty amazing sights to behold. Which is why we were somewhat amused to find ourselves sandwiched between the pensioners’ table in the back room. Kinda felt like losers, to be sure, but, as would be proven time and time again in this town, the food made up for it. Fine food, fine wine, and the nicest waitstaff in the west.

Sunday found us skipping breakfast and hitting the hotel’s open air gym. Nothing like a sweat to get you ready for brunch! Especially at Absinthe in Hayes Valley. Kyle pointed us in its direction, but we ordered two massive breakfasts and some (literally) bad-ass pork product sides all on our own. Duck Confit Hash? Corn Cakes with wilted chard and poached eggs? Homemade sausage and bacon? Accompanied with beers and cocktails? We were outta control. And so was the food. Again. Best Bacon we’d ever had. And, like so many of Our People, we know bacon. A little too well…This one was smokey and maple-y and ridiculous. And stayed with us for hours, so we could enjoy it throughout the day.

Next stop was Foreign Cinema. No, not a movie, another bloody restaurant! This one was in the Mission. With an enormous outdoor patio and screening of flicks on their outdoor screen, we’d heard this place was not to be missed. But to be honest, we could’ve. Missed it that is. The setting far-surpassed the meal. It was tasty enough, and the wines were nice, but we probably should’ve blown it off for a Sunday night movie instead.

Monday took us to Nettie’s Crab Shack on Union Street. We stumbled across it by mistake and it was a damn fine find. Especially the Cobb Louis. And the Bloody Mary. Oddly enough, the woman who ran the place had worked at all the restaurants we had been to. In fact, she overheard us arguing about the gluttonous theme of the weekend and insisted we keep the reservation we had for dinner that night.

Yes, we argued. Once. All over Gary Danko. The restaurant, not the man. I managed to snag us a reservation – apparently quite a challenge. And I’d heard that if there was one place you HAD to go to, it was there. And my man felt full. He was finished with eating. He couldn’t stomach another restaurant meal. It was our last night in Frisco and he was done with dinners.

Except, in the end, we went to Gary Danko. And, in the end, he didn’t like it. He LOVED it. Riding the cable car over there helped, but the meal was over the top. The service was impeccable, the food divine AND they brought us a birthday dessert. They remembered why we were there in the first place – even tho’ I seemed to have forgotten! They have a roving cheese plate that they cut ‘n serve table side. They have petit-fours that come with the coffees. And they send you home with a prettily-wrapped breakfast cake for the next day. Yum yum and yum.

We did other stuff too! I swear. Union Square was shopper’s paradise. A little overwhelming but we managed. Hayes Valley is a great afternoon out. Restaurants and cake shops aside, they have some awesome independent boutiques. Sean, Gimme Shoes, Flight 101 to name a few. Chinatown, North Beach, Russian Hill, Cow’s Hollow… All walks, all the time. And yes, we walked UP Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world.

We also hit Alcatraz. The cruise, the walk, the audio tour. Aside from being iconic, cool and a great morning out, it saved us hundreds – in shopping and calories. We needed the break between meals. And we needed to NOT spend it shopping. Being shipped off to The Rock was just what we needed to round of our 4-pounder weekend.

If you’re heading to San Francisco, enjoy….And bon appetite!

November 22, 2009   No Comments

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Montreal Mon Amour

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they look at their wonderful children, thank god (or whoever) for blessing them with such wonderful treasures, and wonder how to get the hell outta Dodge.

At least that’s what happens in our house. Regularly. Sure, my man and I love our babes to bits. But we also love each other, which is why we skipped town, hit the 401 and headed to Montreal.

Montreal, je t’aime. Stunning, accessible, and a helluva lot cheaper than Toronto, what’s not to love? Everyone’s got their fave places and spaces. And here are mine:

HOTEL: Montreal is home to Canada’s largest selection of boutique hotels. Or so it seems. We stayed at Hotel Gault, an award-winning, newish hotel in the self-described “Old Montreal’s bustling west end” neck of the woods. First off, it wasn’t bustling. But that’s OK. Because it was only on the cusp of Vieux Montreal, you felt closer to the city itself And we liked that. Then again, the whole town feels a lot more compact than Toronto. And we liked that too. Anyhoo, Hotel Gault is gorgeous. Loft-like. Exposed stone walls. Concrete floors (heated in the bathroom). Tres moderne. Tres cool. And with a special $99-for-the-second-night deal, tres resonable. Especially when you consider they also include breakfast. Not a loser continental one either. Full menu, full buffet, or full combo. Full being the operative word. Dee-lish. They threw in a dinner too, but who wants to hang in their hotel the whole time?

Actually, don’t answer that.

FOOD: Sit back, ‘cuz this could take a while….The weekend may have been a 5 pounder. But I’ll never tell. What I will tell you, tho’, is that we ate like piggies. Or kings. Whatever.

Our friend insisted we try his home-away-from-home bistro, Lemeac. We did. Superb. And it has a cheapy menu for the hotshots who come in after 10PM. Like my Man and me. Check us out: we get to Montreal and, suddenly, we’re all French and chic and late-night diners. But back to the food. We went prix fixe. There were a couple of translation issues, but it didn’t matter because the waitress was lovely and it was just good grub. Especially the enormouus pain perdu dessert. Basically a massive hunk of carmelized french toast. Was better than it sounds. Much much better. Lemeac also had an extensive, if somewhat intimidating, wine list. Or so it seemed to non-vintner types.

There’s a hot vegetarian resto on St Denis that also does a brusque take-out and casual lunch business. The mini version is called Chuch. Can’t remember the name of the papa place. Anyhoo, it’s cute to look at and has damn fine Thai foood – so good in fact, you wouldn’t even know it was veggie! (No offense.) Actually, you might know. But if you get the deep fried seaweed and spinach you won’t care.

Marathon Mike Schwartz. OK, that’s not really a restaurant. But all good all the same. We went to Marathon Souvlaki to relive a childhood dream. Not mine. And was it worth the drive to Laval? Absolutely. Or so my Man says. I’m not a major souvlaki person, but I know a good tzaziki when I find one. And this was good. Very very good. (maybe not as good as Arahova‘s, but this was somebody else’s memory lane, OK?) Mike’s Submarines – ditto. Not my thing, but apparently tasty enough to make someone very very happy.

Schwartz’s. Oooooh Schwartz’s. Does deli get any better than this? I don’t think so. Spectacular. Even cold and in the car. I’m telling you now, Montreal friends, I’ll be putting in take out orders when next you go home.

But people, I’ve saved the best, le meilleur, for last. Le Club Chasse et Peche. Apparently the hottest spot in town. According to our concierge, it’s worth moving to Montreal for. Well, we aren’t moving (yet) but if we did…. Unreal. Spectacular food, simple yet terrific menu, and sexy as hell. It’s the kind of place when someone says you have to go, you have to listen. So if you are planning a trip to Montreal, remember, You Have To Go. We had fois gras and beet salad and Tasmanian Char and Sweetbreads. No, not all together, morons. All fab. Even the veggies on the side were incredible. For dessert they had some kind of postmodern rice crispy square but, sadly, we never got to try it. We went for something else – some apple, caramel, pastry concoction. Who knows, it might’ve been awesome – but I was too full at this point to judge.

SHOPS: Aaaah shops… For many folks, Montreal equals shopping. For us, these are the handful that stood out:

Zone – pour la maison. Awesome homewares and gifty stuff. They have a few of these scattered round town (plus one in Ottawa). In fact, you could spit and hit a great home furnishing place. We’ve decided when (if) we move house, we’ll be taking a truck to Montreal and loading it up. They’ve got a great thing going on in the design department and, best of all, it’s kind of on the cheap side!

Factorie – for ladies and gents. Divide and conquer. And if you can get the oh-so-chic and helpful owner to help you, do. He knows gorgeous.

Lola et Emily – great ladies wear. Like a combo of my two beloved NYC stores, Anthropologie and Olive & Bette’s. If I need to say more, then just skip it. It’s pas pour vous.

Mortimer Snodgrass – kitschy and fun. Gifts for suckers of all ages.

And, and, and….The list could go on and on and on. But we only had two days and we were driving, so this is it. For now.

Sure, the days of long haul, far flung, exotic vacays may be on hold, but we’ll always have Montreal…

1 comments:

mortimer snodgrass said…

as the owner of Mortimer Snodgrass, I thank you! I was just playing Google the Store and found your post. Thanks again!

December 18, 2006   No Comments

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