4) A Call For Common Sense

January 30, 2011

After all these years without one, I recently started using a cellphone. I’m not exactly sure why (peer pressure maybe?) since I haven’t even bothered to dole out my number to more than a few people. The amount of money spent on these things is astounding. And, it seems as if over night (I know it took longer than that but it does seem as if it happened quite quickly), we went from these independent beings to people shackled down by our joined-at-the-hip phones. Is this a sign of improvement? I don’t think so. I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of benefits to having a cellphone, or, even that the majority of us are abusing their use. But I do believe a few unspoken guidelines about cellphone conduct could to make this instant and constantly accessible world we’re living in a safer and more respectful place.

And so, in light of a recent happening on the TTC, where a bus driver was caught (by a rider’s iPhone camera no less) sending text messages while driving (uh hello… )  I thought this might be a good time for me to post a few general points on etiquette and cellphone use which, sadly these days, seem to be taking a backseat to safety and courtesy.

List 4 – Think twice about using your mobile device if you are:

  • operating a vehicle. Any vehicle. Not just large, passenger carrying vessels funded, in part, by the very public they are carry. Talking on the phone and/or texting while driving is DANGEROUS should be completely forbidden.
  • in public whist having and extremely personal conversation at an ear splitting volume. I have been shocked, on more than one occasion, by the conversations I’ve been forced to listen to. Trust me, nobody wants to hear your business, or, even cares for that matter, so hush up.
  • in mid-transaction in a store, at the bank or buying tickets for, say, the theatre. If your phone rings and you are in this kind of situation I can 100% guarantee you it will be okay to wait the 30 seconds – 5 minutes it will take to complete the business at hand. Simply (now here’s an idea) return the call once you have stepped away from the clerk’s ear shot. Please do not assume, just because you are dealing with someone being paid to do their job (pretty much anyone who works dealing with the public) that their salary includes listening to people yacking on the phone.
  • interrupting a transaction while there is a LINE behind you. A line means there are people waiting. Don’t forget, momentarily turning off your ringer is a reasonable option when stepping up to do business with someone.
  • sitting in a movie or live theatre. There is absolutely no reason for your phone to ring or for you to be talking while the movie or performance is on (the same rule applies to talking to the person beside you too). If it is necessary for you to be “on call” (your kids are with a sitter, someone close to you is ill, or the multitude of other reasons you might need to stay on cellphone alert) turn off your ringer, set your phone to vibrate and sit close to an aisle. If your phone starts to shimmy you can slip out of the auditorium to take (or, immediately return) the call.
  • having dinner with someone and the call is not pressing.
  • in mid-conversation and it is not an emergency.
  • you are on a crowded bus or streetcar (thankfully here in Toronto cellphones don’t work on the subway) or sitting next to someone (who is reading or not) and it is not an emergency. (While your at it, turn down your music. Sheesh.)
  • in a park, and in ear shot of someone attempting to wash the city off for a few moments by connecting with nature. Note: if you are in a park assume this is what that person a few feet away from you is doing.
  • in an art gallery.
  • in a class (private or otherwise) show some consideration to your teacher and classmates.
  • trying to make a basic decision. You can make a few choices on your own. I would imagine that about 80% of the decisions we make in a day, maybe more, can be accomplished without involving another person. Have faith in yourself. A bit of independence goes a long way.
  • in public but not sure how to chat on the phone without shouting. What’s that all about?
  • in a crowded waiting room. If you must talk on the phone, step outside. If you are unable to do step outside, of course, speak at a reasonable volume.

Like in so many different areas in life a little bit of common sense can go a very (very) long way.

 

 

3) I love it when…

January 23, 2011

I can not tell you how many times I catch myself beginning a sentence with the words, “I hate it when… “ and I really hate it when that happens. Today’s post is the flip side to that phrase. For example, I love it when I find a good clip of a song I like on YouTube. Listen (and read) on…

List 3 – I love it when…

  • I think I’ve lost something like, say, my $111 monthly Metropass, mid-month, then discover it two days later when a kind stranger on the bus tells me I’ve dropped something after it falls out of the book I’m reading. Yay!
  • I make perfect connections on the TTC and get to my destination in record time.
  • something tumbles out of my hand like, say, a recently filled pepper mill, and crashes to the floor – but the top stays on.
  • something tumbles out of my hand, or, off the shelf, or, rolls off the counter (or… or… or…) and I catch it.
  • something tumbles out of my hand onto the floor – lid up. (I’ve been dropping a lot of stuff lately).
  • my house is clean.
  • someone I don’t know leaves a comment here or one of my Flickr photos. I love when anyone leaves a comment (go on… leave one) but it is nice to hear from a stranger.
  • I have the time to bake and the house smells like cinnamon and apples (or what have you) and it’s cold outside but oh so cozy in.
  • my shower has the perfect temperature and water pressure.
  • I feel positive, invincible and motivated.
  • I’m inspired by my family and friends – or strangers for that matter. I love feeling inspired.
  • I’m the one to inspire. Not sure how often this happens but I must have at one time or another.
  • I don’t feel guilty about lounging around with (depending on the time of day) a tea, or, glass of wine and nibbles – reading, watching a movie, day-dreaming…
  • I have a good book to read/film to watch/gallery to go to.
  • I watch a movie in French or overhear a conversation en français and I understand what they’re saying.
  • I cross something off my to-do list.
  • I complete a task I’ve been seriously avoiding.
  • I’m in “the zone” when I’m writing.
  • I’m reading a book I cannot put down.
  • one of my ideas not only gets realized but actually unfolds just as I had imagined it – or better.
  • I’ve gone to the pool. Feels so good on numerous levels making me wonder why I haven’t been in such a long time. People, I am telling you… The only habits you should ever break are the bad ones. I wonder why those are the ones that are so easy to pick up again. Weird.
  • I go for a walk on the trail. Nine and a half times out of ten this is a sure-fire mood lifter.
  • I’ve finished going the laundry.
  • I’m snuggling between freshly laundered sheet (beside B of course). Flannels in the winter, crisp cotton in the summer.
  • I take a good photo.
  • I read something I wrote awhile ago and do not get the urge to purge.
  • the sunshine streams through my window.
  • when I write a good and effortless blog post. These two do not always correspond.
  • I travel.
  • my flowering plants are blossoming. My orchids are on the brink of blooming – yay!
  • nature drops my jaw. The numerous shades of sky blue, for instance, or the way the breeze sounds (when there is not a windchill attached to it) as it rustles though the leaves.
  • I’m listening to and connecting with good music. You know what I mean? You’ve heard that song a million times before but, for whatever reason, at that moment its shooting goosebumps up your spine. Or it’s that kind of song that always shoots goosebumps up your spine. Mmmm…
  • I’m lost in the moment. When I’m working on something, listening to something, watching something, reading… (you get the point) and time seems to have evapourated or you feel like you are swathed in the most extraordinary, life-sustaining bubble.
  • simple things make me smile. A good coffee. Good food. Good company. Etc…
  • I find new people, places, things to love.
  • I realize I have a multitude of ways to end that sentence.

Before I go, I think I’ll share another Chocolate Genius song since he’s on my mind at the moment.  My Mom comes from the fabulous album, Black Music.  I stumbled on this song one day about (wow) ten years ago when I was flipping through channels on t.v. I stopped when I heard Marc Anthony Thompson’s voice. I’d never heard of CG before but was transfixed this song and immediately bought the album. I can’t seem to locate the video I saw that day, but no worries. The heartfelt performance of it here is just as spellbinding. By they way, there’s a short interview with him, here, at NPR Music, a site I never knew about until now. Nothing like accidentally stumbling on a good fine.

I love it when that happens.

A Work In Progress

January 20, 2011

Seems like I’m under renovation here. Still a few pieces to juggle around (and get used to). Stay tuned to see how it all unfolds.

Deep Blue Sea

January 20, 2011

A halted police procession during Sgt Ryan Russell's funeral.

This past Tuesday, at 11:30 am, quite by chance I found myself on University Ave. walking into a sea of blue. Literally, thousands of officers from uniformed, to mounties (a bit of red), to everything in between were marching south down the avenue from Queen’s Park. This was the day of Sgt. Ryan Russell’s funeral and despite an abundance of press about this tragic event, I didn’t know what I was walking into. I often avoid reading the newspaper, especially the front page, (sad but true) so I hadn’t heard University Ave would be closed for a few hours for to the funeral set for 2pm. I decided to stand by for awhile to pay my respects. It was a melancholy moment. Many people stood along the quiet sidelines. All you could hear was the swish of jacketed, swaying arms and the foot fall of the officers’ boots as they marched toward the Metro Convention Convention Centre, until suddenly they stopped, parted and formed lines along either side of the road.

I couldn’t help recalling this past June, during the G20 Summit, when I stood only a block away on a once again closed University Ave. Although the two events couldn’t be more different form each other, it was be difficult not to compare. I wondered if the city hadn’t gone too far on this Tuesday, with all the road closures and traffic related diversions due to the event. But, I’m glad Sgt Russell’s funeral played out the way it did. I wasn’t able to stay for the entire process but felt moved by the presence of so many people, civilians and officer, coming together to pay their respects both to Sgt Russell and, symbolically, to the men and women who put their safety on the line for us daily. The Toronto police force has had some pretty bad press over the last year, and rightly so. But it’s important to remember that the force is more than just a poorly chosen event and that dedicated officers like Sgt Russell are giving it their all in helping make Toronto a safe place to live.

For additional reading about the funeral click here and here.

2) Fifteen More Days

January 16, 2011

List 2 – Things I swear will be completed by the end of January:

  • Set up my cellphone.
  • Paint my office.
  • Put photographs in the frames I bought two (yes, TWO) summers ago. I just completed that one. Yay!
  • Get a desk.
  • Join a few more groups in Flickr.
  • Make some changes on this here blog of mine.
  • Buy a copy of Larousse Mini Dictionaire de Français. (This is not as easy to find as you might think. Why is it so difficult to find a french-french dictionary in this bilingual country of mine?)
  • Go to Designer Fabric Outlet or some other fabulous place to find interesting fabric for curtains. Making them will come later, I swear. (just being realistic here)
  • Finish two panels of the blanket I’m knitting.
  • Go back to the pool (Sadly, I realize this is on almost every list I write.)
  • Start draft three of my writing project. (I swear… )
  • Organize the binder filled with old bills and household essentials. (ugh)
  • Speak more French/ Parlent plus de français.
  • Be done (I said DONE) de-cluttering my office. So close…
  • Shoot one roll of the expired 35 mm film I have socked away.
  • Post two more lists.
  • Wash the kitchen floor.
  • See at least two midday movies on my own.
  • Finish reading The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen. I’m enjoying it.
  • Lis le deuxieme chapitre de Ces Enfants de Ma Vie par Gabrielle Roy. (Not sure if I wrote that correctly. Feel free to correct me.) It’s an effort for me to read in French but a good effort.
  • De-clutter my computer.
  • Decide what I want to be when I grow up. Hm… I may need more time with that one. But, then again, how much effin’ time do you need? Decided already!

Seems like a lot for two weeks but I’ll do my best.

Ebb and Flow

January 13, 2011

Welcome to Kew Beach

Point of entry.

Ebb and Flow...

Making a splash on a snowy day.

No Life Guard on Duty. Although, some days I could sure use one.

Snow fence #1.

Snow Fence #2. Not quite as steady.

Leuty Lifeguard Stand.

Life ain't always a picnic but it sure can be pretty.

Last Saturday, I woke up to see a grand pile of snow had fallen and decided, right there and then, to head down to (where else?) the beach. From that point forward my day took a turn. Everything I attempted to do failed in someway – even trying to get down to the lake shore. The buses couldn’t make it up the snowy, unplowed hill (really?!) forcing me to trudge my way through the freshly fallen snow toward my destination. Yes, I grumbled to myself for most of the way until I realized, due to the detour, I was entering the beach for an area I hadn’t been before: a rather lovely and secluded area (see the Point of Entry shot above) not far from where I was headed. I decided to take this as a sign as if saying – if I open myself up to it, those road blocks and reroutes in life might lead me to a place I’ve never seen or thought of before. On those days when I drop everything I try to grasp on to (we all have those days, don’t we?) I often wonder what the blaze is going on?

At the end of it, though, I was happy to see at least a few shots turned out from my stroll along the boardwalk. I guess I hadn’t dropped everything but it took me a few days to notice.

Although, at times, it can seem like a strain, I have to admit I prefer to look up.

Last week, during my date-for-one I took myself  to the Evergreen Brickworks. I had a great time strolling the through the paths and laneways with my camera, taking a few shots but deciding, once I got back home, that I need to go back soon in order to practice snapping in low light. It was quite overcast that day but I could still appreciate all the different textures of the place, the access to the outdoors with an area to warm up and (very important) washrooms not on-site. It might seem like a bit of an effort getting there for someone, like me, who doesn’t drive but the FREE shuttle bus service from the Broadview or Davisville subway stations makes using the it’s-too-difficult-to-get-there excuse a bit lame. I was drawn to The Works by an exhibit (which I’m sad to say ended in December 31) presented by no. 9. Four video installations mounted at the end of four long, dark, brick-walled tunnels – a surprisingly perfect venue for these interesting works. One of the many ways I hope to improve my blog this year is to actually check stuff out and let you know about it before it’s too late to see it for yourself. It is stuff like this exhibit you may have missed (sorry… ) and the Brickworks in general (not too late to stop by) that makes my heart beat with excitement over what this city has to offer. Not to say Toronto doesn’t have room for improvement but I’ll hit that topic on another day.

Here are a few more shots (I’ve already posted a couple over the last few of days) of what I saw that day. Kind of dark, I know – but still…

Don’t be afraid to grab your camera, your skates and/or a friend for your very own look-see.

Of course, now, this song has implanted itself in my head. Shake it down, down.

A shot of Dana Claxton's Waterspeek.

My shadow imposed on Dana's plea for fluidity.

So many interesting things to see.

1) Name That Tune

January 4, 2011

Seen at The Evergreen Brickworks

Is that light I see at the end of the tunnel?

Well… My office is once again in a topsy-turvy state and I suppose my mind is feeling the same way. Lots of stuff brinking (new word) as of late. Yes, I’m singing the same old song and it is high time to change my tune. Three major things are going on at this particular moment that just might (hopefully – pleasepleaseplease) nudge me into a forward moving gear. I think they call it drive. Parking brake off, please.

Those three things are: I’m off from work for a little while, it’s the beginning of a new year and I’m rapidly approaching my  scary age. 1 + 1 + 1= get your shit together girl.

The last time I was in a similar situation (i.e. had some extra time on my hands) I attempted to tackle the same task of getting my office/ life in order but here I’m sitting-  and it ain’t pretty. By the end of this week, I vow I’ll be able to breath easier. Inhale. Exhale. Whew…

In the meantime, here is my first list of the year. I hope to post one list a week since I fell a few short in 2010. Why do I get myself into these situations?

List 1 – Name that tune. Nothing new here but these tracks are really making the task of sifting through my life’s clutter, a whole lot easier to swallow. At least I’m not singing that same old song.

Hey Ya! – OutKast. Man I wish I could move like André 3000

Heaven On Their Minds – Carl Anderson from the Jesus Christ Superstar Soundtrack. As far as I’m concerned Judas was the real superstar in that musical.

Honey – Moby

Find My Baby – Moby (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the video clip to this song but you can click on the title to hear it.)

Nulla in Mundo Pax Sincera – Vivadi off the Shine Soundtrack sung beautifully by Jane Edwards

Gloria – Same as above although I’m not sure who is singing.

Tell Me Something Good – Rufus. Check out the shoes Chaka Khan is wear. Woah!

Strawberry Letter 23 – The Brothers Johnson. My afro in on the ’70s could definitely give these bros a run for their money.

Seven Nation Army – White Stripes (and speaking of Beck… )

Devil’s Haircut – Beck

Your Ex-Lover is Dead – Stars (Beautiful song, beautiful video.)

That Ain’t Right – from the Ain’t Misbehavin’ Soundtrack

The Viper Song – same as above

Do Something – Macy Gray (How appropriate. Strange video though. Wha… ?)

What’s In Store?

January 2, 2011

Somewhat brittle and a touch prickly but still oh, so beautiful. Spotted on a path at the Evergreen Brickworks.

 

There is a great James Baldwin quote, from his novel, Go Tell It On The Mountain (which I read years ago. Loved it.) that says,

People pay for what they do and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simple, by the lives they lead.

How true. I really do believe we are solely responsible (once we are of age) for how our lives unfold and that it is up to us alone to make it happen. That’s not to say we can’t ask for help when you need it or that it is easier for some and more difficult for others. True, circumstance plays an enormous role in how it all plays out, and some us us, due to those very circumstances may have an easier go than the other guy. But when trying to cultivate our own lives, is the other guy really our concern? I’m not suggesting we turn our back on others but when we’re attempting to “get our shit together” I find making comparisons can really get in the way. I say keep your eyes on your own garden and let your neighbor worry about theirs. The seeds of life you sow are your sole responsibabilty. How you chose to weed, water or landscape will depend on your style, your knowledge of gardening and how deep you willing to dig in order to get the job done. It will be up to you to find the right teachers to help you if your thumb is not green enough. And up to you again to select the perfect plants to bloom in the various conditions you’ve been supplied with. But remember, if you don’t have enough sunshine for your needs, or if the soil is to dry where you’re standing, you can always cut down a tree or move to a climate more suitable. It’s up to you to decide.

Of course, you could always look up to the stars to see what’s twinkling on the horizon. Here are a few astrological aids to help you determine what’s in store for 2011. If you’re a Cancerian like myself all you need to do it read on. If not, just click on one of the links to see what 2011 has on your agenda.

Now Magazine says

Cancer Jun 21 | Jul 22 Decades ago, the U.S. built a network of sleek expressways to make it fast and easy for cars to travel between cities. But like many of America’s impressive engineering feats, this one took little account of what the human soul might enjoy. Ugly buildings or empty spaces surround many of those roads. Visually, the difference between I-95 in Georgia and I-74 in Illinois is negligible. “The Interstate highway system has made it possible,” said Charles Kuralt, “to go from sea to shining sea without seeing anything.” You cannot afford to let this be your operative metaphor in 2011, Cancerian. Your potential for rapid, extensive progress is sizable, but it would be a mistake to barrel along with your eyes fixed on the prize in the distance as you neglect what’s happening along the way. Be both global and local; romance the details as you revel in the big picture.

The Globe and Mail says:

CANCER: JUNE 21 – JULY 22

You must start as you intend to continue this year – and that means being proactive rather than reactive, as appears to have been the case recently. With the first eclipse of 2011 falling in your opposite sign, you will achieve more by working with other people than going it alone. The solar eclipse in your birth sign on July 1 will mark a turning point, reminding you that success and commitment go hand-in-hand. Even so, if you focus too hard on the glittering prizes, you will simply end up dazzled. As someone once said, “the important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.”

Eye Weekly says:

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You’ve been hurtling along at a breakneck pace this year, Cancer, and you’ve actually done a pretty good job of keeping up. An inventory of your accomplishments makes you sound like a bit of a big shot. Why, then, do you feel so hollow? Resolve to take more time to feed your soul this year.

Just Say Yes

January 1, 2011

Discovered at the Evergreen Brickworks, in Toronto.

Say yes to the good stuff and nuh-uh to what’s no longer required.

To the new year ahead: May it be filled with new discoveries and realized dreams.

What better day than today (1.1.11) to set out in finding some positive firsts to fill the year with.

Happy 2011!