Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A good day

Today did not suck. It was Mr. Krapsnart's 40th, and in the morning I gave him two small presents: a rubber chicken and a cow in a can. (I was so excited to find the cow in a can at a toy store the other day. I'd been looking for one for years.)

I then took my bike to the shop where I bought it last year so that I could get it tuned up a bit and get the flat handlebars swapped out for ones with a bit more sweep, so that my wrists quit freaking out when I ride. (Yet another thing one is not told before pregnancy: carpal tunnel is very common in the second and third trimesters.) I also asked the guy (who built the bike, which I adore) to put on a new mirror, because the bracket for the old one was cracked.

Then I went to the Mountain Equipment Co-Op to see about getting a GPS unit as Mr. K's real birthday present. He's been wanting one for years.

The guy at the Co-Op could not have been more helpful. He spent at least 15 minutes talking to me, describing the pros and cons of the models I was interested in, and showing me how to use the one that I eventually bought. The computer said there were two in stock, but he couldn't find the other one, so he offered me the demo model complete with batteries. Sold, I said, and thanked him, and then went upstairs to get some shoe insoles. Suddenly there he was, saying that he'd found the new, unopened one. So we traded, and I thanked him again. He didn't have to do that.

Work went pretty well; the students in the TOEIC class seem to be warming up to me more, and I'm getting to know the test better. Then I had a nice conversation with the new volunteer, who has 60 hours of TESL training under her belt but no actual teaching experience. It was odd to feel like a grizzled veteran. I also got to listen to the boss talk to her and describe his teaching philosophy, which he's been carefully honing for more than a decade. He said something I hadn't heard him say before: he believes there are four stages of teaching. One: you know what the answer is. Two: you know why it's the answer. Three: you can explain why it's the answer. Four: you can do all of the above and add something extra. He tries, and encourages us to try, to reach the fourth stage as often as possible.

It's so nice to work for an experienced teacher who prompts me to think hard about my profession and how to improve in it. It might be easy to stagnate, working in test prep, but I have a feeling that this job will continue to challenge me.

After work, I went home to drop off my knapsack, and then made my way back to the bicycle shop. I'd expected to pay somewhere in the neighbourhood of $90, all told, for the tuneup and the new handlebars and the new mirror. The mechanic asked me how much I'd paid for the old mirror (which I hadn't even bought there), and I told him. He knocked that much off the price of the new mirror. (!) When I took the bike to the front and handed my card to the cashier, she rang it up as $9.20. I tried to protest, saying I was sure I owed them a lot more than that. But she looked at my bike and said, "We won't charge you for the handlebars because it's one of our bikes, and it's your first tuneup, so we won't charge you for that either." So $9.20 it was. Wow, sez I.

I am now a very big fan of the Urbane Cyclist shop.

And the bike rides so, so much better now. I love my bike.

Then it was off to dinner with Mr. K at the Archeo Trattoria (formerly the Distillery Canteen [formerly the 1832 Restaurant]) around the corner. The service was impeccable and the food was great. And Adrienne Clarkson and her husband John Ralston Saul were having dinner there too. We were quietly thrilled.

As we were walking home at around 9:30 we noticed that the doors of the Brick Street Bakery were wide open, so we went inside to see what we could get for dessert. There were a lot of beautiful lemon curd tarts just sitting there waiting to be eaten. We asked the guy behind the counter, "Are you open?"

"No," he said cheerfully. "What can I get you?"

Any evidence of the lemon curd tart that made it home has since vanished.

Happy birthday, love of my life.

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