Today I took a day off, without doing anything for work or for home. It was great, and looking forward to it was great too.  I enjoyed a whole day of solitude without taking notes or checking my messages.

I headed out around mid-day. It was just above freezing, and I was comfortable in the stripey knitted jacket. I took buses to downtown, where I headed to Zinc and the Art Gallery of Alberta. When I was cutting across Churchill Square by City Hall, the empty square and the colour of the sky and the lack of greenery or Christmas lights to soften the concrete floor and towers reminded me weirdly of Revolution Square in Havana. I don’t know why a lot of school buses were lined up on a street, and I don’t know why a lot of (US?) military vehicles were lined up on an avenue. But while I was taking pictures, a woman came up behind me and said “Are you posting those on Flickr?” I said, um, not this minute (I had actually contemplated whether to get out the big camera to take the pictures home, or use the phone to post immediately on Facebook, so I was a little confused.) “But you’re going to, right? How are you going to tag them besides ‘edmonton’? ” Caught off guard, I said oh, Churchill Square, I guess, and the woman said “Great! Because I forgot my camera!” and walked away.

The Art Gallery has just re-opened in a dramatic new building. In the lobby is the restaurant Zinc, which I’d read about when it opened. It is extremely stylish, with the menus mounted on zinc plates and the place setting knives balanced on edge. Plating was more conventional, my server was competent without being intimidating, obsequious, or over-friendly, and my lunch was good. I had a glass of some Malbec, a couple of tiny buns with flavoured butter (fennel, shallot, and orange), and what they called the Un-burger with a side of gallery salad. The burger meat was elk and caribou, garnished with mushrooms and caramelised onions. It was really good. The salad was straightforward, greens with blackberry vinaigrette. Cost $29 something before tip. Some people were eating alone at the bar and reading. I think all the clients were better dressed than I, but it says something good about my confidence that I only noticed this at the end when I was looking around to describe the atmosphere.

The gallery exhibits included one of Yousef Karsh portraits, a couple of sound installations, Goya prints, and Degas sculptures and drawings of bodies in motion. They didn’t seem to have static exhibits of the permanent collection. The gift shop’s best feature was some really neat stuff for kids. Most of which I resisted buying. Next I walked to the Alberta Craft Council gallery/store, which was neat but I didn’t like it as well as the one in Newfoundland.

The rest of my planned shopping errands were in the 124-Street area of interesting shops. One thing that I wanted to buy was not quite available, so they will call me, and in the intervening time I will think/feel more about whether I want one, and I’ll tell you about it later. I still haven’t found a crochet hook that will pass through the little beads I bought to put in a lace shawl, so I don’t know if I need bigger beads or an even tinier hook or another method. But I got a long-cable needle for the yoke of a sweater I’m working on, and I patted some yarn and didn’t buy any. Then I spent a long time in MEC, figuring out which tent I would buy when I buy my next tent and which sleeping bag I would buy when I buy my next sleeping bag, but deciding I wasn’t ready to buy either. So I spent my Christmas gift certificate from Mum on a shirt, a replacement buckle for my backpack, and some Lindt milk chocolate. It felt like I should use this last gift on something more lasting, but I’ll have opportunities for that with the inheritance.

And then I came home. While I was waiting at the Telus-plaza bus stop, I took time to read the maps and confirm that besides the 7 and 57, I can also take the 70 down 99th. And unless I am waiting with people from OffWhyte and want company, it’s probably just as fast to take the 8 to Bonnie Doon and catch a 4 back from there.

zinc1 zinc3 churchill square 1

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