A Card Carrying Member

August 25, 2011

Spotted at Toronto's City Hall during Doors Open in May.

I was going through a few shots from my archives, trying to expunge as many as possible before my hard drive sinks under the weight of it all, when I came upon this photograph I took during Doors Open back in May. I thought it was pretty funny and quite appropriate since this model, of the city of Toronto one is being asked to throw items at, is on display in the foyer of… (wait for it) Toronto City Hall. Seems as if city council has been lobbing a few our way, lately,  and I’m afraid to see what my town is going to look like if some people have their way. Imagine wanting to close some of the libraries in this city. Mind boggling. I am a proud, card-carrying member of the Toronto Public Library and one of my not-so-guilty pleasures in life (I have a lot of guilty ones but that’s another post) is hanging out, dropping in or perusing around its stacked shelves or working at an available table. This is a system that has so much to offer (go ahead and check out their site) that Toronto should be extremely proud to have it and continue to nourish it the way it deserves by making it even better.

I just signed up on Twitter to follow the Toronto Public Library campaign, here.  You can read more about the campaign and even sign their petition (I already have) if you like, here. At the website, make sure to go to Media to click on a few stories in the Campaign In The News sidebar on the right. Especially entertaining are some of the nonsensical ramblings from Toronto city councillor, Doug Ford. If that doesn’t make you want to wrap your arms around the Toronto library system, placing it in protective custody, I don’t know what will. Except perhaps this great campaign to help preserve this fine institution.

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.

 

 

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.

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.

Whodunnit?

November 21, 2010

Spotted in Grange Park, behind OCADU, while waiting for the sale to begin.

Yesterday morning, even though I debated over whether or not to go, I found myself at OCADU the Ontario College of Art and Design University (that is quite a handle that seems to get longer every few years) for the annual Whodunnit Mystery Sale. This is a fund raiser, for the bizarrely designed art school (I’m all for supporting creative minds but sorry, I am not a fan of that rectangular creature hovering over McCaul St) that raises money by selling several 5 x 7 works of art for $75. The name of the artist is not revealed until after you buy the work of art. Thus the whodunnit moniker. Personally, I love this idea. If you like the piece then buy it. You might get an added surprise when you discover who made it. The could be a student, teacher, celebrity? Who knows?  Check the website for the details if your interested in partaking next year.

The sale started at 10am and I arrived on the scene at 8:15 to secure my place in line. The number handed to me was… 108. Thud. I had two main choices and three on my back up plan in case one or both sold. There were over 1500 pieces to chose from and were on view since Wednesday. Once the sale began all of the choices were projected on a wall and you could see which works had sold and who the artist was. I felt excited sitting there waiting, each time my choices came around, to see whether or not they had been sold. I am happy to say I bought the two I was hoping for. One is a painting of a marsh and the other is a photograph if some flowers. I actually surprised myself with my rather tame choices but I’m pleased with them because first and foremost, they are both lovely works and second of all, I did want to support the school since it has contributed to the creativity flowing through the minds of a few very talented artists I know.

You can check out the pieces that were on sale, here , if you want to see what I purchased. The numbers I chose were 41 and 592. The three that sold from my back up plan were 13, 398 and 514. I was told that by tomorrow the artists names will be included on the site. I also wanted to mention, that considering how many people came out to the event, it was incredibly well organized. I was out of there by 10:45. Nice.

Art for art’s sake

November 18, 2010

Click on an image if you would like to enlarge it.

Yesterday, it was actually more like art for my sake.  I sometimes feel a very strong desire to surround myself with some creative energy. So I took myself on a date to the Art Gallery of Ontario to allow myself hang with some hangers. I do find it difficult to stroll around the AGO without dropping my jaw at how beautifully Frank Gehry transformed that building into a work of art. Besides snapping a few of the AGO curves, I spent most of the three hours perusing the Julian Schnabel show hanging on the fifth level of the gallery and the At Work: Hesse, Goodwin, Martin exhibit on the floor below. Lots of interesting stuff to take in but after a couple of hours I like to call it a day. I usually go an hour beyond my mind’s absorption point because I feel as if I might miss something fabulous just around the corner (tell me about it). My mind get a bit gooey after a few hours of art-gazing which can defeat the purpose of rejuvenation. I must plan another rendez-vous avec moi toute suite.

And, speaking of art gazing, before hitting the AGO, I slipped in at the Ontario College of Art and Design to check out what was going on at the Whodunnit? Mystery Art Sale. This is a fund raiser the college does every year. You should check it out, just steer clear of the pieces I’m interested in.

A Little Perspective

October 24, 2010

 

World Press Photo 10 Exhibit

 

And, another perspective

 

 

And, another one...

 

I stumbled upon The World Press Photo 10 Exhibit at The Allan Lambert Galleria, in Brookfield Place, yesterday and managed to check out some of the winning photographs on display. I will definitely make my way back before it closes on October 28th to see the photos I had to skip due to lunch hour induced time limits. This is a very strong exhibition featuring photojournalistic photography in its many forms. I recommend checking it out, although, I warn you, some of the shots are difficult (very difficult) to digest. That being said, I feel it is important to bear witness to life outside our personal viewfinders (and possibly comfort zones) which is one of the reasons why an honest representation of daily living around the globe has such great significance. It really does put life into perspective, reminding us of many things including: how beautifully amazing life can be, how complicated and confusing it is at times and certainly how very fucked-up it can and, indeed, has become.

 

I think I will take this opportunity to rain a whole lot of Peace, Love, Good Health and Happiness aplenty to all. Also, a big shout out to all those folks who put themselves in risky situations to let us know what’s going on.

 

Cloudy

October 14, 2010

 

Nathan Philips Square, Toronto, during Nuit Blanche

 

This shot is one of my first attempts at night photography, with my Rebel T1i, without using a flash. It’s a wee but blurry but, in this case, I don’t really mind it.

Word of the day.

Hopscotch \ HOP-skoch \  , verb;  1. To journey quickly and directly from one usually far place to another. noun: 1. A children’s game in which a player tosses or kicks an object into one of several numbered sections of a diagram marked on the ground. verb: 1. To move or pass through something, as a geographical area or a field of endeavor, making many brief stops.

I played hopscotch in the sunshine on my driveway, when I was a child, and afterward I’d lay my back on the cool concrete while unraveling the mysteries in the clouds.

32) Thanks, eh!

October 11, 2010

I am so thankful for the consistently good macchiato I get at Broadview Espresso here in T.O. Mmmm...

I am feeling pretty thankful today especially for my ability to have so much to feel thankful for. Here is a peek at a few of those things.

List 32 – Some of what I feel thankful for:

My mother, my father, Bill and my sibs and the magnificently twisted and curving branches of my family tree. My pals (the best!), my health (in every sense of the word). The people I work with in that teeny-tiny space (see family and pals) as well as the few work-related-jewels outside the confines of those 100-year-old (plus) walls. My job and that amazingly-perfect-for-me new one just around the corner (even though I have absolutely no idea of what or where it is, or, how it will find me. Any ideas? Let me know.). The roof over my head. The food on my table. The soon to be ready pumpkin square and its scent wafting up from the oven (so easy to make – recipe to follow since it is no longer available online). The drink in my glass (which is, thankfully, looking to be half full at the moment). Each and every one of my senses (thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!) A really great macchiato. My love of art in all its many forms and the strong pull I have to seek it out. My desire to take photographs. My cameras (Canon Rebel T1i and Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ2 – Love them!). Some of the wonderfully produced shows on (or once were on but I’ve only recently discovered on) television: (Rescue Me, Six Feet Under, Summer Heights High, Law and Order to name a few) because, really,  there is so much crap out there. My love of travel and all the the stops I made this year (and all of the to journey to come). My French teachers (I’ve had four of them since I started almost a year ago!!!). All so different. All so swell. Smooth connections on the TTC. Connecting with nature and being fortunate to live a ten minute walk away from one of Toronto’s best trails. What I’ve accomplished on “the project” (I’m not trying to be too secretive but I suppose I’m a bit superstitious). Great reads like The New Yorker Magazine (and a special nod of appreciation to the friend who passes along copies from his subscription after he’s finished reading them. Makes it feels like Christmas numerous times a year.) and Granta Magazine. Great books, Frabjous films, Sumptuous songs, Alluring art. My creative inspirations. When I follow through on my creative inspirations. That I live a ten minute walk from a public, indoor swimming pool (and even more grateful for when I actually use it. Living in Toronto. The city often gets a bad wrap and is definitely not perfect (what city is?) but this town has so much to offer and a load of potential and after living here for almost 25 years (gasp! how the time does fly.)I am happy to call it home. Each breath I take and expel. Every cell in my body. My ability to feel (the ability to laugh and cry and everything in between). One of my brothers visiting on his way to  new job in the States and being able to spend the day with him. The interesting strangers (i.e. bloggers) I visit on-line daily and those who stop by here. And, of course, many thanks to all of my sponsors – my biggest (and possibly only?) one being me.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for stopping by.