Friday, August 29, 2008


From a couple of weeks ago... freshly picked raspberries... a few were pureed to make a seductive coulis, drizzled over a small piece of angel food cake, then topped with mounds of freshly whipped cream, and heaped over again with the rest of those perfectly velvety berries.


The way we can't remember heat, forget
the sweat and how we wore a weightless
shirt on chafing skin, the way we lose
the taste of raspberries, each winter; but

know at once, come sharp July, the vein
burning in the curtain, and from that light
- the block of sun on hot crushed sheets -
the blazing world we'll walk in,

was how it was, your touch. Nor the rest,
not how we left, the drunkenness, just
your half-stifled, clumsy, frightened reach,
my uncurled hand, our fingers, meshed,

-like the first dazzled flinch from heat
or between the teeth, pips, a metal taste.

By Scottish poet Kate Clanchy, from her collection Samarkand (Picador, 1999)

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude--
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in this broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

Mary Oliver, Red Bird, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Return Visit to St. James Cathedral Gardens

Up for another walk?

In this height of summer, on this lovely cool evening, I enjoyed the gardens of St. James Cathedral.

The fountain in the foreground and the gazebo in the background are now surrounded by beautiful beds of flowers. It is a joy to see the trees so lush and green after the last two, rainy months.

The stone cherub is now surrounded by a scented herb garden for the pleasure of those of us who are blind or otherwise vision-impaired. The scent is magical.

I wanted to jump in! Lucky I didn't. Poor wee flowers.

Yum yum.

Yellow and mauve... a classic colour combination.

Purple, green and white combine to make my favourite colour combination.

Mmmm mmm.

The spire above the trees.

A bit closer and you can see that the clock hands have been removed for repairs I am assuming.

Okay! Now let's repair to my local for a Guinness.

Monday, August 25, 2008

This Evening's Amble

The Martin Goodman Trail is the Toronto section of the Lake Ontario Waterfront trail. I often walk part of it, and here are some shots from this evening's amble. I don't know the names for many things... if you can identify them, that would be most welcome!

Yellow, bobbly plant:


Queen Anne's Lace:

A very fluffy plant, kind of like a dandelion on steroids:


A eerily clean freighter:

Some wacky tree-hugger:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Visitor

I can't remember the last time a film moved me and stayed with me, as last year's The Visitor has. Thomas McCarthy wrote and directed, as he did his previous film, The Station Agent (2003), which I have yet to see, and which Phil talks about on his blog on August 16, 2008.

Richard Jenkins plays a college professor in Connecticut who is at a point in his life and career in which he is emotionally and professionally shut-down. A series of interesting encounters occur (I will not spoil this plot line!) and the film is a wonder of beautiful performances and great writing. It's about unlikely people reaching out to unlikely people and overcoming very real obstacles, despite background and circumstances. Sometimes obstacles are not overcome but it ultimately speaks beautifully of the triumph of friendship and love... and music and the rhythm of life.

Is it any surprise that I was moved to tears several times?

Photo: Richard Jenkins as Professor Walter Vale and Haas Sleiman as Tarek Khalil in The Visitor. (JOJO WHILDON/OVERTURE FILMS)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What in Sam Hell!?

"Big foot found in Georgia 'a giant hoax' say researchers."


Sunday, August 17, 2008

If I Don't Make it Back Out...

... take the huskies and go without me.

When I disappear into this store in downtown Toronto... well, you can see the dilemma. Hours can be spent here, so can dollars. Many dollars.

Open Air Books and Maps has been around for a long time. It is tucked into a basement store at 25 Toronto Street. Behind its big black door lurks a plethora of books aimed at travellers, nature lovers, and ecologists.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Quote of the Day

When I first began to work in the theatre, I worked with a very young Alec Guinness. Alec Guinness, who had already done a lot of work, said to me, "I must warn you, if you interrupt me while I am rehearsing something emotional, if in the middle of a scene you just interrupt me because you just want to tell me something, I'll yell at you". "But", he said, "don't take this as showing any bad faith, any bad intentions on my part. I can't bear to lose the thread, the unity of my character, so I will shout so as to stay within what I am doing". This is the only occasion I have ever heard an actor say such a thing and to me it is the exception that underlines an astonishing rule. Normally, an actor can be deeply inside an extraordinary, complex character, inter-relating with great passion with another character and you can say, "Just a moment, could you just step two inches to the right because otherwise you would be out of the light" and he says in his normal voice "Oh yes, certainly", immediately picking up again not only the thread of the scene, but the entire human being who is, as it were, put on and taken off as easily as a coat. But the mystery is that this coat goes on and off inside and the actor can slip into the entire fibre and structure of a human being in a flash, without using any mental devices or tricks.

From a lecture by Peter Brook.