Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday AMuse

The Mariposa Folk Festival is now 50 years old and to celebrate, the city of Orillia (where the music festival began) has 50 7' tall guitars painted by local artists scattered throughout the downtown streets. My friend Suzanne and I spent considerable time finding them all, but you will be pleased to know I will only present a tiny sampling for your amusement.

The one on the left is called Mariposa Folk. The one with Gordon Lightfood is called called 'Feelin' Sundown' (below is the backsides)

and then there is Forest Folk

and here we have Guitars through the Seasons (note the lovely convertible in the background!)

but then we have this most elaborate one

called Dances While Balazs Plays

If you really, really want to read more about this and learn about every single one of the 50 guitars, you can download a pdf of the booklet here

Sunday, August 29, 2010

SundayStills - figurines

When I was in high school, we went on a school trip to Spain. It was my first trip without the parents and my first to continental Europe. I must have asked my mother if there was anything Spanish she would like me to bring back. All she said was do not bring any of that Lladro. I'm not certain I knew exactly what Lladro was, but she showed me those elongated figurines in a jewellery store and I understood.

But as soon as I saw her, I had to have her.
the face with her so delicate, perfect nose

the downcast eyes below exquisitely arched eyebrows

the hand, with the one finger, ever so gently holding on to her shawl

the detail of her shawl

...and the lovely calla lilies. two have broken stamens from the attempts to keep them clean.
I found out later that my mother didn't like callas, either.

But this figurine was for me. I fell in love with my 'Maria'. I later had fanciful ideas of collecting more, until I found out how much they cost outside of Spain. I still dream of finding her a companion.

And of going back to Spain.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

nature is the glass

The weekend road trips continue. There's nothing like planning a drive through the scenic Finger Lakes region, only to have it rain the whole weekend. (doesn't it always rain when I go away somewhere??)
For those not familiar,
they are called the Finger Lakes because they look like this

So it was a good thing the Corning Museum of Glass was such an amazingly wonderful distraction. I was almost glad of the rain so I didn't feel torn between getting outside and hiking acres of hills and staying inside and looking at acres of glass.

Okay, actually, the museum was the main focus of this trip with a little hiking at Seneca Lake to be the bonus. The museum turned out to be the bonus. It has to be the best themed museum in the world. The website says to plan about 2-3 hours for your tour. That is very misleading - you will need 2-3 days. Seriously. You would need 2-3 hours just to peruse the gift shop (even if you don't plan to buy anything).

The Museum

I think my jaw dropped as soon as I saw the building and getting inside, it dropped a little more.

The Studio

Usually, with any visit to a gallery or museum, after a couple of hours, I feel too overstimulated to take any more in. So, you might think a museum with just glass in it might get a little ... boring, or "look, more glass". Not at all. I started at around 2pm and stayed until 7:30 with an hour or so to check into the hotel. Then I went back the next day (your ticket is good for two days and teens and kids are free) and stayed from 9am until it closed at 8pm. Then, I went back for more on Monday (afterall, you don't have to pay to get into the giftshops or the cafes). If you do get a little tired of the glass, or just need a change, there is a free shuttle bus to the historic Market St in the town of Corning. It is an architourist's dream.

There are interactive displays, tours, demos, special collections, discussions, history, science and art. There are hands on classes you can take and make your own glass. The glassblowing demonstrations are full of wow factor and heat and interesting facts and a rather large bowl or vase or plate at the end of 15 minutes (and a raffle after the last one of the day. I didn't win either time). Every demonstration was different enough that I learned something new at each of the five or six demos I went to.

I didn't even bother trying to get pictures of the glass (okay, maybe I did try a couple of times) but it is notoriously difficult to photograph glass, espcially glass that sits on glass shelves inside glass cases with lots of bright lights shining on it. So I bought a book.

the works of one man, Frederick Carder

a table with a huge ship on it. for what purpose, I know not.

this mosaic has thousands of tiny pieces of glass
(this is only 1/3 of it)

I was thinking of this blog post, so took some photos during the glassblowing demonstration.

a small amount of this molten glass goes on this blowing rod. it is easier to blow the glass than a balloon (so they say)

you must always keep turning the rod, or gravity will deform the glass

into the fire, many times, in order to keep the temperature of the glass high so it can be shaped. the oven is about 2100 degrees. you could feel the heat from 15 rows away

an assistant gets another rod with molten glass and together they attach it to make a base. later another hot rod will be attached to this base and the glass will be cut awayfrom the first rod, then quickly back into the fire to reheat. it is spun around so that it expands and the top of the bowl can be shaped.
in this case, he is making a bowl that resembles a handkerchief (not the same bowl as above)
et voilĂ ! it is snipped off and will now go into a cooling oven for several hours

I could go again next week and probably still be as impressed as the first time.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SundayStills - metal

I'm off again on another jaunt this weekend. Perhaps I will be able to find some living, breathing herons to photograph. I tried really hard while I was away last weekend, but the ones I found would not co-operate for my camera. Until I found these guys in a park.

Of course, if I really need a heron fix, there is this weather vane just a block or so from my house.

See what other metals were found by visiting SundayStills

Friday, August 20, 2010


Every summer, in my childhood days, there was a jar that sat on the kitchen window sill waiting to be filled with nickels. These would be necessary for spending money at "the Ex".
It has been years since I went to the Ex, the CNE, or to use its full name, The Canadian National Exhibition. I'm thinking the games and rides cost much more than 5 cents nowadays. But, back then, I would anxiously watch the change my mother got for her shopping, and search for those all important nickels that would be added to my 'Ex' bank jar.
The Ex was a big deal. It still is even though it has changed some. People used to camp outside the Princes' Gates to be the first in. They were given free entrance and gifts and much media attention. There were the rides and games of chance. The Alpine Way with cable cars that soared over the grounds so you didn't have to walk all the way back. The Bulova Watch Tower that soared tall over the buildings so you could keep track of time - and even go up to see the view over the lake (it seemed tall at the time). The fashion shows - I loved those models who stood frozen for hours no matter how many times you tried to distract them with your funny faces and comments. We'd have to plan our visit to include the free taping of Elwood Glover's Luncheon Date (a television interview show). There were the buildings that showcased all the newest gadgets and designs of the 1960s and 1970s, with ballots to be filled out at most booths. I would fill out every single ballot I came across. Even the ones for a full set Encylcopedia Britannica. One year, I actually won! It was a little confusing, since I didn't keep track of what I was filling out, and in the end, it turned out you had to be 16, so the brand new 1970 Singer sewing machine (whew, not the encyclopedias!) went to my mother. The best, of course, was the Food Building with its free samples. And those Tiny Tom donuts that you could watch being made and covered with sugar and cinnamon, then eat fresh and hot out of a little bag before getting back in line for more. The free samples are long gone. As is the Alpine Way, Elwood Glover, Luncheon Date, the mannekin models, and new car shows.
But the rides and games of chance are still there. And the Tiny Tom donuts. And new this year, some
horridconcoction of deep fried butter - melon ball-sized scoops of butter, coated in funnel cake batter and drizzled with your choice of toppings. Apparently this comes out of Texas. Gee, thanks, but no thanks.

But the opening of the Ex is bittersweet, for it is also a marker for the 'end of summer'. It always ends on Labour Day weekend and the next day it is back to school. It is a slippery slope to autumn and Thanksgiving. Last night, when the temperature dipped down to a respectable and comfortable 18C, one of the guys I work with, after filling his car with his newspapers, pulled on a warm sweatshirt over his long sleeved t-shirt. "Hey, what can I say" he laughed, when he saw my face, "I'm from Jamaica. It's cold!"

Today, the Ex opened for its 132nd year. It is the end of summer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday AMuse

I may be away for the weekend, but I am still thinking of you. And for your entertainment, I present Florence Foster Jenkins singing Mozart.
With pop up commentary.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

SundayStills - smoke and fire

I have left the smoke of the steel city
and fires of the steel mills

and headed to a cottage for the weekend
whoo hoo!

Hve a great weekend everybody.
See more smoke and fire and SundayStills

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Sometimes, when life gets too busy or unpredictable, you need to slow yourself down and rebalance. Some people self destruct, others become introspective. Some go for long walks or take a canoe out into the wilderness to think about life. Some people do yoga to relax and find an inner peace. Others may get creative with knitting or painting to calm their nerves.

Some get right into the middle of a river and start balancing stones.
I had heard about these sculptures before, in different parts of the city over the years, mostly in the east or west beaches

last weekend, these stone sculptures appeared in the Humber River in Toronto.

Artist Peter Riedel likes the impermanence of his sculptures.

"Just like people in life, my creations can easily be knocked down. Like so many things in life, the balance isn’t always up to us. We think things are perfect and balanced, but sometimes life has surprises for us too" He said. He likes that even through the stone creations may fall apart, they become a clean slate from which to create again.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

SundayStills - clouds

We have had lots of sunshine and a few puffy white clouds
and some of these clouds that indicate a change in the weather - and a resultant drop in temperature and decrease in humidity (at least for the weekend!)

and a soft, gentle sunset

but mostly we've had heat and haze... which is expected to return tomorrow, after the rain today. sigh.
see other clouds at SundayStills

Saturday, August 7, 2010


There are some bloggers who seem to have all kinds of interesting things happen to them, or for them, to write about. My life is not that exciting. I must make my own fun posts. Sometimes I have to journey far away and put myself in peril just to find something interesting to write about.
Just so you don't think I fell off the face of the earth (though it has felt like I fell off this past week) I ventured all the way into Toronto to get some ice cream and photograph it for you.
Though this is actually pomegranate sherbet - not that you can tell underneath all the whipped cream and fruit. There is even a home made waffle piece for scooping.

There is always a line up outside this place. I know, because I used to live just up the street. They are open until late (1am) and many summer evenings the line could be snaking around the corner. People will wait an hour to get inside. And once inside, the choices seem almost endless. As does the kitschy decoration. There are so many toys and tiles and pictures and Dutch stuff that they are hanging from the ceiling and on every inch of wall space. It certainly gives you something to look at while you are eating, or waiting to be served.
And these colourful milk pails provide some fun much needed extra seating.
Really, I did this just for you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday AMuse

It is a holiday in these parts today.
Drink responsibly.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

SundayStill - graffiti/street art

Continuing with the walk along James Street North from yesterday, I found many old advertising murals. Faded with age, or newly released for viewing due to the demolition of neighbouring buildings, these tell a story of the neighbourhood.
Not graffiti, but I think it qualifies as 'street art', albeit of a bygone era. And even in this state it is probably more easily readable than the graffiti!

But now we can venture to perhaps one of the most photographed buildings in Toronto - The Gooderham Building (also known as the Flatiron building) where on its 'flat' side is a mural installed in 1980 of a mirror image of the building across the street from it. This was also showing signs of wear and was fading and peeling and was recently meticulously repainted by one of the original painters of the project

Visit SundayStills for more street art