Wednesday, June 29, 2011

still waiting

Today didn't turn out quite as expected. It is now well past 5 pm (as I start writing this) and they have not come. Again. The letter said - and I quote (sans snarky rejoinders as much as I am so tempted...)  "As part of our ongoing effort to make living easy for you, we will be completing an annual suite inspection of your unit on Monday June 27th between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Should any deficiencies be noted, we will contact you after the inspection to co-ordinate a time to complete the required work. Please note, you do not need to be present for this inspection, however we kindly ask that you remove all deadbolts and chain locks." 
That last bit was in bold.

As if I would actually want an 'inspection' in my home without being present! Of course I planned to be present. When our previous superintendent was around, I would have gladly let him come in and do what he needed, knowing that he wasn't pleased at having to do these inspections any more than we were at having them done. (though whenever you hear about grow-ops or hoarders living in buildings, I rethink that idea) He would come in take a cursory look around and make the necessary notes, which one year involved recording the serial numbers of the fridge and stove. Really? What kind of maintenance inspection is that? Whatever. But I liked Mike. Nearly everyone liked him. Now we have an office full of staff who do not make themselves present to us so it is anyone's guess as to who would actually be conducting this inspection. And as past years have proved, they really don't intend to "make our living easier" by doing upgrades or any more maintenance than they can get away with not doing.

It would make my living easier if you just showed up. (and even easier if you actually did the required repairs...) But at 4:50 I got a phone call, saying they were behind schedule and they could come the next day if that was convenient. Well, since I had already waited up all day for them, no that would not be convenient. And I reminded the superintendent that since I work nights, I would like to sleep during the morning. Fine, the day after then.

So another day of little sleep and waiting around... There are things I want them to see and take note of, not the least of which are the washroom issues that still have not been fixed or replaced. And there are things that I do not want them to see, not the least of which would be my collection of clothes horses for drying my laundry on the balcony. They frown on that sort of thing, so why give them a reason to keep looking up... (which is also annoying in that the last three days have been perfect clothes-drying-outside weather: sunny and breezy. and I always use clothes pegs to stop them from flying off the balcony.)

I was a little excited about going down to the mailroom to pick up my mail today, though. I was thinking at least a few bills (or invoices really as most of my bills are paid automatically) and maybe a fistful of postcards from Postcrossing. It has been so long and I missed my daily hopeful visit to the mailbox. After weeks of strikes and a lockout and now back to work legislation, we got mail.
well, junk mail. that's it. one lonely flyer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Stills - B&W

This week's theme for Sunday Stills is black and white or sepia. I chose black and white. I've been visiting churches as part of the Doors Open and was quite taken aback at seeing a grand piano prominently placed centre stage... How unusual, I thought.

Hope United Church

But then I visited the Melville United Church... 
it not only had a black grand piano, but also an organ centre stage. Maybe this is a United thing?
Church pews are not usually the most comfortable, but 
the curved pews of the Melville Church 
have a certain attractiveness  
and then, because I love this lamp from the Hope United, a comparison of sepia to b&w
see more of what the other participants chose by going here

Friday, June 24, 2011


The nearest Apple Store to me is about a half hours drive to Mississauga, which is two cities over. Mississauga is a sprawling community immediately west of Toronto created by an unpopular amalgamation of several small towns and villages in 1968. Interestingly, the two holdout villages, which were later annexed in 1974, are the only really 'quaint' areas. There is not much that is old in Mississauga, except for the mayor. (Really, she has been in office as mayor since 1978 after being the mayor of one of the former villages. She is a feisty 91 years old!!)

After getting my SD card back, I popped it back into my camera and left Square One (one of the largest malls in Canada and you know how I love, er hate, malls) to go for a walk outside. I didn't really expect it to be a nice walk, this not being one of the 'quaint' areas. The area is full of tall buildings and not much streetscape. But apart from the lack of charm, and the busy 8 lane roads, it turned out to be pleasantly walkable, if you lived there. In fact, I looked it up on the walkability scale and it scored a walker's paradise (90/100) whereas where I live only scored a very walkable (I think it was the lack of a good grocery store that pulled the marks down to 87/100)
There is no traditional downtown here, but they are working at creating a 'vibrant' city centre which includes this shopping mall, a civic centre and city hall, a new public square, library, theatres, a new college campus, police station, many businesses, a Y, a Playdium ... and new homes. Lots and lots of new homes. Condos. 

Including this, the Pièce de résistance. The ultimate landmark. 
The Marilyn Monroe....
Officially known as Absolute Towers you can click on the link to read more about them or check out this site to see more photos
I LOVE these buildings. And this is the best place for them to be built. You can see it from one of the major highways. It is in the city centre with other tall buildings around, but is not completely surrounded by any of them. What would be the point of building something so unabashedly sexy and gorgeous if it would end up being squashed by other less glamorous towers.

There is a lot of construction going on, and there was a red light when I took these pictures, 
so the traffic flow is a bit deceiving. 
But the streetscape is a bit... barren, soulless. Not a patio restaurant in sight. 
No storefronts with interesting windows
(they are all in the mall which is on the other side of the street from these photos)
the new Confederation Square was still under construction last week, but looks very promising (it was officially opened yesterday)

the building on the far right is the library

the fountain is being used as a splash pool at the moment but will be used as a skating rink in the winter. I particularly like the little island in the middle.

This square will be used for concerts, (there is also a small amphitheatre) festivities (like the International Indian Film Awards going on now), markets, and even, for the first time in history, an outdoor council meeting in celebration of its opening. 

Where I live looks nothing like this, though there are some at city hall who would like to pander to the developers to make it so.
click on any photo to embiggen

Friday, June 17, 2011

Absynthe (Abby)

Abby led a quiet life until her peaceful end. 
August 1, 1995 - June 17, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

update on demolition and rebuild

I was almost in hope that the new house would be in keeping with the others in the block. Then I saw that there is a 3 car garage attached.
Then I noticed these two large columns at the front door

as a comparison, here it is with the cape cod style house next door.

as a reminder..... the original house, with the huge front yard

Now that I have my SD card back...  I'll do a little walkabout so you can see what others monster homes are in my neighbourhood.

If you are interested.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

excitability clause

It was a good weekend, this past one. The rain held off even though all the weather people promised us we'd be getting some. Several droplets, most of the day, they said. I was not disappointed, as neither were the many vendors at the art and craft show (90% outdoors) down at the art centre. By sheer co-incidence of fantastic timing, this weekend was also our Doors Open. That is when nosy people can get inside participating buildings for free or that are normally closed to the public or are mostly available to church-going souls. The beauty of this Doors Open is that I can walk to most of them. I did have to drive to the local mosque and the new business college, but the rest that I went to see were within blocks of each other and my house. The little museum that I have never been inside in all my years of living here (for shame) was actually very interesting and had a beautiful display of 1920s dresses. There was also a display of Burlington as it has been since the beginning of time, with old maps and Indian artifacts and history lessons and photos. In a couple of months the clothing display will change to the Edwardian period and I think I will have to pay another visit (pay being the operative word in this case). I went on a walking tour that was offered this year (this is only our second year participating in Doors Open) which wasn't quite as informative as I'd hoped, but then I've been walking around my neighbourhood for over 12 years and have already tried to find out as much as I could about some of the heritage buildings. But I do like to know why streets have been given whatever name they have and will not shy away from asking to find out. I have never understood how some people can live in an area and not know anything about the streets around them.

After the walking tour, I ran into some friends and we wandered the craft show. I deliberately did not bring any money with me except for what I might need for a caffeinated beverage, however, there was a vendor or two who happily took my credit card. My friend Karen says she will take me out to a very nice restaurant so I can show off my new summer blouse. Then I headed into the centre to have a look at the photography display. Intending to just take a quick walk around then leave, something happened and I was trapped by my jaw dropping in awe of some of the photos and one person who followed me around determined to explain whatever he knew about the photos and their photographer. I almost had him shaken off when he introduced me to another photographer - one whose work I really, really would like to emulate. By the time I left he had me so inspired. Their photography club meets weekly and has a range of talents and abilities and he sounded so enthusiastic about it that I was ready to join up right then. Except it is on hiatus for the summer. Still, it was enough to get me excited about photography again. I know I am still taking pictures, but the spark has gone dull a bit. Sometimes, I am bored with what seems to be the same pictures. By then the sky was showing off some great clouds with late afternoon peek-a-boo sun and the light was just right....

It wasn't until last night that I finally stuck my SD card into the computer to upload the photos and see what beautiful works of art were created. Shoving the card into the cd drive was not the way to upload.
My little paperclip hook and tweezer rescue combo (yes, I have done this before) did not work as well as I thought it should and somehow it fell in deeper into a dark crevice that surely should not be that deep.  Shaking the monitor gently does nothing. The person who responded to my desperate plea for help on the Apple support community message board was very consoling (and it did look like it has happened to many people - there should be a little flap or something to make it more distinguishable) but it looks like it will be a trip to the store.

My excitement has waned a little.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Stills - yellow

A friend and I were in Niagara-on-the-Lake this week to see Heartbreak House at the Shaw Festival. We come here a few times a year, but I think my obsessive photo habit is wearing thin on her. During our walkabout before the play I mentioned that I wanted to take a photo of a particular place, whereupon my friend - in what I hoped was not really an exasperated voice - immediately piped up with "but you already have a picture of that!" "Well, maybe, but not in this light", said I - in what I hoped was a calm voice. 

I managed to find another brilliant yellow
and I simply could not resist - though these guys are fast losing their baby yellow-ishness 
but like I tried to explain, light is everything...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

we're sorry for the inconvenience

Today is the day that management is sorry for the inconvenience but they are going to take away all our water between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm while they work on the neverending plumbing issues of a 50+ year old building. The notice that came around last night may not have been worded exactly like that, but close enough. 

Co-incidentally, today is the day the temperature climbs to somewhere around 36 celcius with a humidex hovering somewhere in the 40s (36 C is 96.8 F and 43 C is 109.4 F  I'm sorry but those F numbers sound more like radio stations than temperatures - this morning you are listening to the gentle hum of 96.8 on your FM dial and later this afternoon tune in to 109.4 for the sounds of leaves wilting...)

And what a light show we had overnight. The warnings of thunderstorms came through around 1:15 am and once the lightening got going it just kept on and on. It was pretty much continuous for almost an hour. No stopping to catch its breath, no pausing to confer with thunder to see if he was even bothering to keep up. Lightning did not care. Most of the time, I couldn't even see the lightning bolts, it was just intense and overlapping flashes of light that seemed to be an umbrella over the whole area. It was like when you see a television reflection flickering on the walls and ceiling in a dark room. It would have been a fast paced action movie. I do not believe I have ever seen anything quite like it before. And we even had a tornado warning, which thankfully did not actually materialize. We get tornado watches, but not often warnings.

At the moment, my place is still in shade and is cool with a nice breeze blowing. Now, I'm off to fill up the kettle and the water jugs and prepare for an afternoon in hades because I took all my blinds down yesterday in preparation for the new ones to be installed... on Thursday. By then the heat and humidity will have broken. Actually, maybe I won't bother filling the water jugs, I'll just leave for somewhere with other hydrating liquids and A/C.

I'll let you know what happens.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sunday Stills - potluck

I'm not sure why I stopped contributing to Sunday Stills... it could have been that I was working too many weekends, or that I was too unorganized to be ready for Sunday morning... 
So sorry for my long absence.
I happened to check in this week and saw that the theme was 'pot luck' 
anything you wanted that was not an archival photo. Perfect time to jump back in. 

I happened to be on a mission this past week photographing bike racks. We have seen a number of new bike racks pop up in my city recently and I wanted to gather a collection. 

First up, the ever faithful Post and Ring

although this cyclist doesn't seem to know the correct way to attach his bike

one of the fancy new racks that have been designed to look local
 a typical scene with a bench under a tree from the nearby park

this one represents a family friendly bike path, post   processed in an antique effect with boost to accentuate the rack

this one has the chain and bollards that are on the breakwall at the waterfront and was finished off in a posterized effect,
just for fun
and now a cyclist actually riding his bike 
again done with a boost effect to accentuate

this is my contribution for Sunday Stills

Friday, June 3, 2011

wild nights in the city

During my nights of delivering newspapers, I often count things to keep myself alert and amused. Like counting driveways (which is useful for remembering which houses to deliver to) or how many rabbits were running around (which is considerably less useful).  It was winter, February as I recall, about 10 years ago, and I was mindlessly counting, and being slightly annoyed by the number of willow twig deer that graced so many of the front yards of this particular neighbourhood. I don't know why this annoyed me, but it did. Suddenly, as I passed the first three deer, I was aware that the other three deer had ever so casually turned their faces and eyes to gaze on mine. I stopped in my tracks and gazed back. It was a surreal moment that felt like it lasted half an hour, but was probably more like half a minute. Then, suddenly, in that instinctual way that animals do, they all turned as one and ambled away through the gap between the houses into the back yard. I was entranced. And I wondered if I would encounter them again. I did.  I was zooming around the corner when my headlight shone on a family of five deer standing in the middle of the road. I was ever so glad I had good snow tires and quick reflexes.

Rabbits are the most numerous of the animals I encounter - one night I counted 14 in one yard - and skunks are by far the most threatening, with the worst night trying to avoid 12. (I know, this counting stuff is all meaningless to you...) I have met up with several local wildlife and each time I find it a little exhilarating to see them in such a big urban area. Well, okay, that's maybe not exactly true. I do hate Tuesdays as that is garbage night and people still insist on putting their bags of garbage and their blue boxes with unwashed tins and jars out on the curb the night before pick up, which means it gets strewn halfway across the road and the yard by the raccoons and skunks. I have had my garden turned upside down and emptied by rabbits. I have had raccoons in my attic, skunks under the porch and squirrels tearing the screen to get into my kitchen. I have also been kept awake by the scratching and scrabbling of wildlife, not to mention the high pitched screeching of the mating and fighting of the raccoons.

But, never in  a million years would it occur to me bash a family of raccoons with a shovel as one man in Toronto has recently been arrested for doing. As meddlesome and annoying as these creatures can be, I also have a healthy admiration for their (and other wildlife, but especially raccoons) ability to adapt to urban living. City dwellers seem to be viciously divided on their relationship with wildlife living among them. (read some of the hundreds of comments on the linked article, if you have any doubts!) Some people hate them and others seem to find it fun to attract them by feeding them (as if these wild animals had no skills of their own). So, on the one hand we push certain animals, like deer away by invading their natural habitat and on the other we attract some, like raccoons, by leaving food and garbage for them to feast on, thus increasing their lifespan and their waistlines.