Tuesday, October 28, 2014

William Lyon MacKenzie King

I walk almost daily past the grave of William Lyon MacKenzie King. Who? Well, yes, he did die in 1950, so there are probably three generations, who never really knew him. For the record, he was the Prime Minister of Canada, when the Liberals were in power, which was on and off for almost thirty years from 1920 to 1948.

Why do I happen to mention him today? Well, you see, there is a Canadian flag that flies over his busy grave site. That is, there are a number of MacKenzies and Kings buried there and there is also a plaque outlining his life and a basket of flowers, plus a wreath from last year, which I wish someone would remove - oh, why bother, winter is hard upon us and it doesn't look that bad on a sunny day. There is also a woman, whom I have seen on several occasions, talking to herself or maybe to William, at the foot of his tomb. Although, it's not a really large plot of land, it supports a lot of activity. People stop and stare, or read the plaque, or bow, as a nod to a pilgrimage completed. Plus there are the money lenders. Did I mention the coin - the nickels, dimes and quarters that are regularly left on his coffin - it's a busy and I might add, productive piece of Real Estate!!

But I digress. I was talking about the flag. Because the grave is a "government" site, (we are never really free, even in death) the flag, or at least those who maintain the flag, make sure that it flies according to parliamentary instructions. Most of the time it flies, majestically, at topmast. However, there are times, when we grieve as a nation, and the flag flies at half mast.

It flew at half mast for the death of Nelson Mandela and it was flying at half mast today, no doubt for the deaths last week of two cherished servicemen, who died in the line of duty, in Canada. Both were killed by radicals embracing Islam.

I am sure that MacKenzie King is rolling over in his grave this week. Would he have ever imagined the threats that we are under now? Maybe he would. He lived through Hitler. "The more things change, the more they remain the same." I have only to look at the position of the flag to know the state of our nation. To date, I have never seen it flown upside down.

Have an amazing day!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Art & Atitude

Both Art and Attitude are "A" words. Please, let me explain. Because I need a focus to get through winter, I have borrowed a meditating technique that I used a few years ago to, well, do just that - get through winter. That is, I created a post a day based on three words beginning with the same letter. I looked for (or created) opportunities in the day that illustrated these words and then wrote about the experience. It's a distraction and it works - sort of :)

However, three words, I think, are too many to really get the value out of each word and if the winter is going to be as long and cold as last year, I am going to need several alphabets to sustain me!! As a result, I have narrowed my concentration to one word (OK two for this post) and limited my posts to one every few days.  Doing the math, that would be 78 words every other day for a total of 156 days. I can see the snow melting now, before it has even fallen!!

So what was the result of a few days of channelling Art and Attitude? More time wasting :) I joined Instagram. I do take a lot of pictures and I like the idea of posting them and following other people who also post pictures. The question would then be, is this really "Art"? Well, that would depend on your attitude. Here are a few interpretive shots that I can't post to Instagram because they are on my MAC and I don't seem to be able to transfer them to my phone - more challenges and time wasting. If I wasted through winter, would I lose weight? Probably not :(

This is actually a colour picture. A grey bus shot at night, on a grey road, with a grey puddle looks pretty black and white to me, hmmmm. Anyway, I love discussing pictures, because - you guessed it - it wastes a lot of time. Questions, such as, why did the photographer cut off the head of the greyhound, come to mind? Is the picture some existential statement on the human race not really going anywhere? No, I would have shot the entire bus except that there was a car parked to my right and if I moved up to avoid the car, I would have lost the reflection in the puddle. How much of Art is really just accidental? - another "A" word.

Here's another.

I'm fascinated by shadows - but are they Art? Below is the original.

I'm undecided as to which one I like better.

My moniker on Instagram is infiknitbuzz. Please send me a picture :)

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


........ is another A word that I chose for a day of channeling a few Octobers ago. Actually I may have tried to channel (think) it on one of those very busy days, that makes meditating virtually impossible, because nothing really got "stirred up." This is not a bad thing.

Wait, I did do a lot and I repeat, a lot, of cleaning and reorganizing back then and I am about to do more clearing out and re-arranging of "things" again, soon. It's sort of a controlled agitation which helps to flush out the "gunk" and free the mind for inspiration, I hope.

Also, I did take a "free" Principle Barre session at the Ballet School on Tuesday. However, I have decided that this type of muscle agitation can wait a while longer. It was a good work out, but at $20.00 a session, it's pricey.

Maybe not exactly agitation, but a least a worthwhile stroll, we walked in "Light Up The Night," last night. It's a fund raiser for all blood related cancers, in which my husband's company participates. Tons of people from tons of organizations took part and they raised a ton of money. All we had to do was assemble at Nathan Phillips Square and walk a designated route past the various hospitals carrying lanterns that lit up the night. It was an amazing parade, with a police escort! Unfortunately, it tied up traffic on University Ave. for quite a while. We may have agitated a lot of commuters at that point.

Finally, an agitation I could do without. Sadly a soldier was killed at the war memorial in Ottawa, yesterday and parliament was locked down. Terrorism is agitation at its worst. It has shaken us all up. I think that I need to channel "peace" today - maybe prayer and patience too. All things pass, but some take longer than others.

The pictures? lighting up the night in Toronto for a good cause.

Have a peaceful day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Activate is an A word.....

When the days draw in and the temperature drops, I "die." I am not a winter person, but, by some accident of birth, I was born in a country with long cold winters, Canada. OK, it could have been worse, it could have been, Russia.

Over the years, I have had to devise ways of coping with winter. I did learn to ski and spent many winter Sundays, in good weather, skiing first with friends and later with family. However, my kids didn't really "take" to skiing or snowboarding and since my husband doesn't ski, there has been no real impetus to continue and I don't like skiing alone :(

What next? Yes I knit, cook, clean and run a business during the week, however, I need to keep active, partly because it passes the time and partly because it is, well, healthier than just "sitting around moaning."

I flipped through a few October blog posts from other years, to remind myself of how I had coped then. What's this? A series on "channeling." Who would have thought!! I had actually written a month's worth of entries on thinking, using an A-Z approach. That is, I would focus for a day on a word - actually in some cases 3 words - to keep my mind off the icy grey outside.

My first word back then was "activate." What can I say? This meditation actually worked, because after a few false starts - failed gym membership, abandoned work outs at home and office, I finally, started just walking. It was sporadic at first. I didn't walk in temperatures below -12ºC and I couldn't walk in the ice and snow. However, when Spring finally came, I committed to walking everyday for a month. Eureka!! I can now walk 5kms (just over 3 miles) in less than an hour. I have now started to trim down that time. Can I go from 60 minutes to 50 minutes or less? I also started to look up record holders in my age group. What was the fastest time?

Ironically, I found a marathon here in Toronto - The Toronto Women's Half Marathon/5K that has a 5K walking component. They posted last year's time for the 70+ walkers. The winner had done it in just over 45 minutes. Last week I did my 5K walk in 45 minutes. I think that I may register for the marathon in May 2015.

I'll keep you posted.

The picture? I saw this beauty on one of my walks. It feeds my gypsy soul :)

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Brucing it up

That's Brucing, not sprucing. Let me explain. It begins with Thanksgiving dinner on Friday night. We started doing this a few years ago, when a friend couldn't make "the feast" on Saturday or Sunday. I loved it, because we were then "free" to go away for a day or two over the long weekend.

This year we had two brilliantly sunny days Saturday and Sunday. Although we didn't stay overnight anywhere, we did go hiking both days on the Bruce Trail. Saturday we hiked the Glen Ross side trail from map #18, if you follow the trail at all. It's a fairly strenuous hike and after a "party" the night before, I only managed the 4kms of the Glen Ross loop. We had planned to do a little more, but today was not the day.


Although, the colours were lovely, they were already starting to fade. In fact, some of the trees had lost their leaves entirely. Still the vistas were very pretty and the sun made everything glow. Even though the roads were busy, the trails were virtually empty. We passed just six hikers in the 2.5 hours we were out. In fact, one couple, who were hiking the entire Hockley trail plus side trails - a six hour romp - were hoping to get out before dark. I wished them luck. They might be the only people left there.

On Sunday we walked part of the Caledon Hills trail, which is map #17. This was an easier 6.6kms hike over varied terrain, which rose to the top of one of the hills for a gorgeous view over the valley. I know that a lot of people take a drive in the country to see the colours, but it's much more rewarding to actually get out and walk for miles surrounded by what many only see at a distance.

We stopped in again at the Farmer's market on the way home for more apples, carrots and a look at their pumpkins :)

Have a great day!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

More than just a fish & chip shop....

I love Mt Pleasant Ave. It's vintage Toronto. It still has two movie theatres, lots of interesting one of a kind shops, tons of restaurants and until last Wednesday, Penrose Fish and Chips.

Unfortunately, Penrose is now closed forever. Any business, that has been in business for 64 years, deserves a lot of credit, especially when you consider that this particular business started out as a "mom & pop" style small local eatery, that served the best fish and chips in the world!!

OK, the "mom and pop" changed a little over the years - but just a little. The last name, Johnston, never really changed. It had been the owner's name since the first Mr. Johnston returned from WWII and started a small fish and chip shop in Toronto. In fact, the first "mom," Mrs. Johnston, who had worked in the business for 62 years, passed away just a year or so ago.

What I hadn't realized was that the business had actually started out at Gladstone Ave. and Dundas St. and then moved to Mt Pleasant and Penrose Ave. I had for years presumed that Penrose Fish & Chips had always been on Mt. Pleasant. It wasn't until last night, when my husband, who had managed time to read the articles on the shop, mentioned that they had had their first shop very near my grandparents' house.

This was a eureka moment, because I always remembered a fish & chip shop near Gladstone Ave., when I was very young. After my father came back from the war, he would occasionally bring home a feast for all of us from this particular fish and chip shop. He would say that it was just like the fish and chips he had had in London. Well Gladstone's loss was Mt. Pleasant's gain.

However, in the beginning, it wasn't always about the food. It was often about supporting businesses started by soldiers, who had come home from the front and were given small grants, either to start a business or to go back to school. Yes, we all loved the fish and chips, but we also wanted Penrose to survive. We wanted to get soldiers back to civilian life; we wanted to move on!! My father also took his beat up old Plymouth to a mechanic on Dufferin St., who morphed his talent for fixing aircrafts, into fixing cars.

That's how we got back on our feet - one chip and one bolt at a time, with a mutual support system. With so much unemployment these days, we need to do more of this mutual supporting. Too many people are outsourcing their dollars to the Amazons of this world, forgetting that the bricks and mortar, mom and pop businesses got us to where we are today. Don't abandon them now!!

We didn't abandon Penrose and there were huge line-ups and even film crews, at the shop, on their last day. There's a lot to be said for staying the course, keeping to the basics, believing in who you are and delivering the most amazing customer service for 64 years.

Have an awesome day!!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Magic of Angels

Yesterday I needed a little magic to lift my spirits. My husband pointed out that the temperature would not get above 11ºC, no matter how hard it tried! Ugh!! This is the slow descent into Winter. Help, I needed a reprieve. I needed to be reminded that there is more to life than the daily "grind," the slow descents, the greys..... I needed "Magic Wednesday."

When all else fails, I turn to poetry, to see the world in a different light. My favourite poet lately has been Billy Collins. Today I found an amazing poem of his on angels -

Questions About Angels

Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.

Do they fly through God's body and come out singing?
Do they swing like children from the hinges
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors?

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?

If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
filled with the silent letters of every angelic word?

If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
the appearance of the regular mailman and
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?

A Fall (not fallen) Angel

No, the medieval theologians control the court.
The only question you ever hear is about
the little dance floor on the head of a pin
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.

It is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.

There, that's better. Oh and I'll have a glass of unfiltered divine light - hmmm make that two :) -

Have an awesome day!!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Nuit Blanche Neuf - Deux

This is my second post on the ninth celebration of Nuit Blanche in Toronto, Oct 4/5, 2014. For me this all night Art show has always been about the people and the magic that it brings to the ordinary, everyday landscape of the city.

For example, this Henry Moore sculpture took on a totally different vibe, when I realized that the young person below was taking a running "slide" through the piece, while a friend captured it on video.  I love the way people create their own Art by interacting with what is there :)

My "Art" is trying to capture the "magic" of the night. Neon signs have always fascinated me. Here are a few.

This one is open to interpretation :)

as are these.

Finally, the moon and her minions, the lights that whiten the night.

Have a great day!!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Nuit Blanche Neuf

Last Night from 7:00pm to 7:00am Toronto hosted its ninth annual Nuit Blanche - an all night Art "party," in various pods around the city, that is totally free!! I have gone out for everyone of them and they are amazing. Each year is different. Often the locales change; the installations always change; however, the crowds, although different, never seem to change. They are made up of people of all ages and abilities, just milling around, in awe, at how different the city can be.

Toronto does magic really well for nuit blanche!! Here are some examples -

We couldn't actually figure this one out, but it was OCAD's contribution. The dots are coins in water with blue lights. Some things in life maybe shouldn't be explained :)

This was not really an installation, it's part of a passageway at the AGO, however, the night turns the ordinary into the amazing, as I have said and my husband enjoyed this one.

This year, as well as last, the Art Gallery invited people to vote for three photographers. Each artist had about ten pieces of their work displayed in a gallery setting. The public could view them free of charge, because it was Nuit Blanche and afterwards vote for a favourite. We voted for the one above, an African photographer, who captured herself in a totally different setting. I wondered what Hemingway would have said about this matador.

We spent the rest of our time around Spadina between Dundas and Queen Sts. The crowds were manageable until you got to Queen St. However, we did see this maze.

It was a huge installation with thousands of beach balls that were actually globes. If you lined up long enough, you could walk through the maze and ohhh and ahhh as the lights changed through the spectrum. It was really a fairyland and a chance to celebrate the wonder that is our world!!

Here was another piece at Queen and John.

Magical islands in the sky. I am always stunned at the time and money spent for just twelve hours of glory!! It says a lot about how we respect art and its importance in our lives.

Unfortunately, we never really get to the other areas of the city that have equally amazing presentations. If I could only sleep all day and party all night, I could revel in each and everyone of them. Maybe some day :)

More pics next post.

Have an amazing day!!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Worlds of Wanwood....

This poem has been rolling around in my head for a week or so now. I usually remember it in autumn because its colours are more Fall than Spring. I know, often the very first sign of Spring is a haze of yellow, as the leaf buds swell, however, this is never as spectacular as Autumn's palette.

Every year seems to go out in a blaze of glory. Nature is so beautiful, just before she dies. Would that we had the same fate. What if we were born old and grew young - an eerie thought. Maybe the only way to capture this "fanfare" in our own lives is to create as much excitement as we can before the frost.

The poet is one of my favourites - Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Spring & Fall: to a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Have a colourful day!!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Drop everything and "hike"!!

Last Saturday the forecast was for 25ºC and sun. We decided to forego our usual routine of grocery shopping and house cleaning to savour the few remaining days of really good weather. In the morning, with lunch packed, we headed out to the Hockley Valley to hike that area of the Bruce Trail plus two of its side trails.

It was a gorgeous day!! The trails were a little challenging, with lots of switchback climbs and tricky descents, however, I particularly liked one trail  - Cam Snell - which went through some open fields and an abandoned orchard. It was very pretty. There were a few hikers on the paths, but not many. One person told us that she had taken a photo of a salmon swimming up a stream on a tract of the trail just south of us. I made a note that I should travel with address cards, so that I could ask for pictures.

I looked for salmon in every stream we crossed!!

Most of the pictures I took with my cell phone, because I had forgotten my camera. I couldn't believe it!

After a 4.5 mile hike we treated ourselves to drinks and a cheese plate at a quaint restaurant - The Black Birch - very close to the trail. It had a lovely outside patio that wasn't very busy. Unfortunately, I couldn't remove the power line from this photo, but the colours are lovely.

Our return trip is always through the Holland Marsh on #9 highway. This time we stopped at a farmer's market on the way home for apples, tomatoes and heirloom carrots. I couldn't resist the pumpkins, especially the white ones :)

Have an awesome day!!