Wednesday, April 27, 2011

dream house... part 1

I have always rather like this house. It is not fancy, and definitely needs a lot of work, but there is something about it that ... intrigues.

It sits on a corner lot and is oriented to the busier of the two streets. There is quite a set back though from the front, with a very large yard. The whole lot must be at least 150' deep. (I would have planted a few strategically placed trees that would have matured into a nice visual and sound barrier from the traffic)
The double arched entrance onto the porch (with the single, non-arched front door), while looking initially attractive, seems a bit of overkill for such a small unusable space. The other entrance is around the back.  (I would have put a door and mailbox off that addition facing the sidestreet) Behind that wall with the other doorway is a pool. Sweet.
The awnings are not exactly my style, but after seeing them for so many years, they began to suit the house. (I still would have ripped them off and put in nice blinds) They appear to be canvas and at one time all the west-facing and one north-facing windows had them.  People don't use awnings anymore what with the advancement in window coverings technology, though there are a couple of other homes in this neighbourhood that still cling to them. At least there are no shutters to clutter up the exterior even further.

I imagined an older couple living there. The inside full of lovely woodwork. The fireplace with a nice long mantel. Arched doorways into the dining-room and kitchen. The kitchen perhaps still looking like it was 1970 and desperately needing more counter space and cupboards. (and electrical outlets). Three bedrooms with tiny closets.

I was wrong. Very wrong. When the For Sale sign went up, I checked out the virtual tour. It wasn't much of a tour, but what I saw of the inside was all beige. All boring painters white beige. The only colour, really, was in the gold awnings. No unpainted wood trim. No ugly 70s kitchen (okay, that was a good thing!). And no mantel (I love mantels, such a big fireplace and no mantel??)

Then a fence went up one Monday afternoon.  No dumpster.  Oh dear.

on Tuesday morning the pool was gone, as was the wall.

on Wednesday morning, big tooth appeared...

by Wednesday afternoon, all was rubble

on Thursday morning, all was muddy

It has been raining ever since, (plus a long holiday weekend) so not much has been happening.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Prost, Salut, Cheers

I admit it. I am a beer snob.
I'm not fond of such watery brews as Coors Lite or Molson Canadian. And don't get me started on Labatt's. I even like English ales. Served warm.

But mostly I prefer Belgian beers. Some of the fruity beers (Lambic) are quite refreshing on a hot summer's day. And the stronger ales, like Chimay are a joy to the palate. And then there is the white (wheat) beers (witbiers), like Hoegaarden. Light and refreshing yet with full flavour. Tangy with a hint of spice. Aromas of banana and citrus and coriander. Goes very well with salmon.

The fact that we can drink this beer at all is all due to a man named Pierre Celis, who opened up a brewery in the town of Hoegaarden in 1965, ten years after the last witbier brewery in Belgium was closed. Pilsner had overtaken the witbiers and a centuries old tradition died out until Mr Celis decided to revive the style. Mr Celis passed away last week at the age of 86.

If you want to learn more about Belgian beers/ales here is very informative site

I've been working all night, in the pouring rain, so I've already raised my glass in honour while reading this rather long-winded, but informative site about everything (everything!) Hoegaarden

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday AMuse

The United Kingdom Explained from C. G. P. Grey on Vimeo.

there is an option to read the script - which you may need to take advantage of... just saying.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

the return of the goose

Look who's back!

I know, it is hard to tell one goose from another, but this is our old friend Chris.
I wrote about him last year (you can read about it here)

He nearly gave me a heart attack the other night when he suddenly appeared again.

For about 6 - 8 weeks he hangs out in the 'hood, all by his lonesome. Mostly he sits in one of the five parking lots,

or sometimes in the middle of the road.

He is oblivious to cars and traffic.
But it is good to see him again.
To know he has survived another year.

Then one day, just as suddenly, he will disappear.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

opera drama

I would not consider myself to be a huge opera fan, or even all that knowledgeable about opera though, apparently, I am much more familiar than two of my companions with whom I spend several Saturday afternoons at the cinema for the Live at the Met series. Like most people, I am well versed with the story and music of Madame Butterfly and could sing my way through much of Carmen and enjoyed Nessum Dorma until it was grossly overplayed. I used to listen to Saturday Afternoon at the Opera as background music when it was a staple on CBC, but I didn't really appreciate a lot of it, or even understand what was happening, as I waded in and out of attention while doing other things (laundry, reading, napping). Seeing it on the movie screen has brought a whole new dimension to my appreciation of this art form. I now LOVE opera.

At first, I only went to see the ones that I thought were most familiar, or were by Verdi or Rossini (my faves). Then, I (well, we actually, as in three of us regulars) started choosing operas that featured our favourite singers. Eventually we became more daring and choose the whole season (except for Wagner's The Ring Cycle - that might be a bit too much for me) and sat through productions we knew absolutely nothing about. We started to excitedly await the new season to see what was on offer and with the option of repeats there was no reason to miss any one. I remember the first year when it was just like going to see any movie, you bought your tickets then took whatever seats were available. You had to get there a good 30-40 minutes early if you didn't want to end up in the front row dealing with the distorted, oversized, HD faces looming at you. Now you book your seats when you buy your tickets just as at the theatre. For the last, most recent opera, we went to one of the new theatres, paid a little extra and had those special seats and enjoyed wine while watching my newest favourite tenor, Juan Diego Florez in Le Comte Ory.

Opera has everything you could want in a production. Yes, it can be long. And yes, it is almost always in another language. And yes, there is a lot of repetition. But there is singing, acting and dance involved. There is the drama, movement, fashion, intrigue, romance, murder and mayhem, and sometimes animals. And in the case of Juan Diego, a baby born to his wife half an hour before his performance! Talk about excitement!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

forcing yellow

Did you know that if you cut the branches off a forsythia bush, and stick them in water, they will bloom earlier?

Now you do.

I needed a bit of sunshiny yellow.
They seem to be coming along nicely.

Monday, April 4, 2011

swans and spring

For a few harrowing days, it looked like the whole thing would be cancelled. Because the lake was still frozen. And indeed, by the time I left Stratford this afternoon, it was snowing. Again.

But, the swans were getting a bit antsy. They knew Spring was here and they were wanting to get out of their winter home and into the river to be free and frisky.

And no-one does swans quite like Stratford.
There are about 26 swans in Stratford, their numbers kept low so that they can be better managed. Swans are very territorial and the Avon River is not that big. In the winter, they are kept in a pen with a pond and fenced in outdoor area and a shed to stay warm. They also have a Twitter account for amusement.

But when it is time for them to be released into the water (or as we call it, "going outside" via Twitter), well, they are done so with a LOT of pomp and ceremony.
They are piped down to the river by the Stratford Police Pipe and Drum Corps.
Hundreds of people descend to the short (very short) parade route to witness the event. The walk is about 5 minutes around the corner and down the path to the launching point.

This guy was a little eager and perhaps thought they were in a race....

Then there is Nick who, as the local paper put it, "breached security" a couple of weeks ago, followed by his new paramour, Lacey. It is all the more poignant as Nick's partner, Angela, was brutally murdered by a drunk last year. She was basically defenceless as she was nesting and would not leave her eggs. (The attacker was found and charged) Nick mourned for months and spurned all offers of friendship. Until now.

Nick came by the launching area before the swans were paraded down, perhaps to greet his old buddies. Or to gloat....