Sunday, April 29, 2012

Get me the Hell Out of Here!

Duty is DONE! Spring is calling...

All the regular checkups that I have each spring are complete, you know... eyes, teeth, physical.

All the windows are washed.

And - as of five minutes ago - the tax return is complete, two days before deadline.

I'm up for some serious lack of responsibility.


I'm off to the beach.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Have a Short Memory

Some readers may recall the big slipcover project from 2009. I swore I wouldn't do another... except I forgot about that, and am now determined to slipcover the old, but really comfy, wingchair.

I spent the afternoon selecting a fabric, and went soooo out of my comfort zone: there is yellow involved, and flowers.

(I also found a remnant of gorgeous black leather for $1, which won't be used for the slipcover; you'd probably figured that out already; but I'm sure I could make into some sort of jewellery, maybe a choker or something. It's so soft. OK, enough of the leather rant, and back to the wingchair).

I'm not putting a timeline on this. The sofa had to be done before Christmas, but I figure this chair might take me into my summer vacation. Anyway, watch this space.

/// UPDATE ///
Life's too short. I ditched the wing chair. There'll be no slipcovering here. :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Played by Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride (1987)... I love the fatalistic, revenge-driven Inigo and his goofy hairstyle, and I love the fact that he gets his own entry on Wikipedia! On the site I found this picture, he was listed as "badass of the week." I'll say.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

He's on the List

"I went to about 300 schools in my youth and learnt practically nothing."

Jack Cardiff was the subject of an inspiring documentary I saw recently on Turner Classic Movies. The cinematographer on such films as Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death and Black Narcissus, he appreciated working and also participated in movies such as Conan the Destroyer and Rambo First Blood, Part II. His career was long, having started as a child actor in silent films. He was mainly self taught, and his love of fine art steered him in his career as a cinematographer. He also did some directing, but he was a master of the camera and returned there, working into his 90s.

The documentary didn't delve into his private life, but I got the impression of an intelligent man, one who I would have loved to have talked with. Have you ever played the game where you ask which six guests (anyone who ever lived in the history of the world) you would invite to a dinner party?

Jack Cardiff is on the list.

Who's on yours?

Return of Son of Cherry Beach, Part Le Bazillionth

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Art is in itself a 'happy end', despair becomes sublime, pain beautiful."

Herbert Marcuse

Cloud Appreciating... Sort of

After a hot March, we are having a freezing April. Every few days the temperature drops and I fear for the latest batch of blossoms. Hang in there, lilacs - I've been waiting to ravish you and inhale you all year! Pleeeeeease!

Today was the third day of rain, but I'm not complaining: Orangeville had snow! As I walked to the beach, the sky was clearing behind me, the wind pushing me along and the rain clouds across the lake. It was pretty cold when I got there (that's me in the new profile picture, taking a break from the gusts in the protection of the larger beach hut). I thought I was in the clear, but those same winds made walking home very difficult. I was leaning into it just to stay upright.

Bruce Springsteen kept me warm.

Small, Sweet, Hidden

Buds. So full of promise.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Green Nest

The new papasan chair is heavenly, about 100 times more comfortable than it looks, with a plush cushion, that I'm certain is emitting chloroform: I sit in the chair, and immediately fall asleep. The neck support is brilliant and I wake up feeling wonderful. I love my green nest. And I can get in it and still have room for some books, my mp3 player and whatever else I fancy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


It is a matter of great satisfaction that, even if you've spent Sunday morning washing windows, it means that Sunday evening, a stunning April sunset looks even more spectacular when seen through them.

Love It, Cherish It

It's Earth Day, as opposed to every other day which is.... not quite sure.

This video, Hope in a Changing Climate, gives me some hope. I hope you watch it. It's remarkable.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking."

Thank you Alex Gregory, and The New Yorker. I scanned this from a greeting card I bought. Classic.

I'm still blogging, but will do so less from now on.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Like Books?

Like books? Then you've got to check out the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. The space is remarkable, with stacks soaring high above you, you might be in a modern wing of Harry Potter's Hogwarts. This picture was borrowed shamelessly by me from Jetsetta's feature on amazing libraries from around the world.

I was fortunate to attend a talk there last year, with a collection of books that we were able to handle. Awesome stuff as I held first or early editions by Robert Browning, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Edmund Dulac, Lord Tennyson, and Virginia Woolf.

This is truly one of Toronto's treasures.

I love you, NT Live... but Live Opera Even More

Just as CBC episodes of Coronation Street are catching up to the UK schedule, we have Becky still on the street, but about to depart... and the actress Katherine Kelly did just that earlier in the year, to star in the National Theatre's production of Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer. So much fun, as was their Comedy of Errors, with Lenny Henry in a modern London setting of the play. They're doing some encores this summer and I think I shall have to see Frankenstein again.

Speaking of which, there is still time to catch the COC's Tales of Hoffmann, in its eerie, Gothic-Romantic setting in which, for example, the doll Olympia is actually a sort of Frankenstein creature herself. Great stuff, and lots of unforgettable choons.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I'm listening to the divine Ms Mattila singing Schumann's Widmung (Dedication).

On Valentine's Day this year, I was fortunate to attend a moving recital, of some of Canada's best singers. The audience, "300 of the grooms' friends", were lucky to share the celebration of their wedding, on the 20th anniversary of their relationship. They've had to wait a long time to be able to do this legally. Consul Generals of three other countries attended, but I'm so proud to be a citizen of THIS country, where consenting adults can marry, same sex or not. The grooms are great fans of great music and their generosity in organizing such an event for their guests was incredible. It was pure magic.

Du meine Seele, du mein Herz,
Du meine Wonn', o du mein Schmerz,
Du mein Welt, in der ich lebe,
Mein Himmel du, darein ich schwebe,
O du mein Grab, in das hinab
Ich ewig meinem Kummer gab!

You my soul, you my heart,
You my bliss, O you my pain,
You my world in which I live,
My heaven you, wherein I float,
O you my grave, into which
I ever lowered all my cares.

The video is not important. I suggest you close your eyes, and just listen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Memories of the Knight of the Rose

Thinking of Der Rosenkavalier and my memories of it... today I watched this wonderful performance of the final trio, surely one of the most sublime moments in all music..

The Marschallin recognizes it's time to say goodbye to her much younger lover, Octavian. She reminds herself that,

"I promised to love him in the right way, even to love his being in love with another woman! But I did not expect to have to go through it so soon! There are many things in this world we never believe exist even when told about them. Only if it happens to you, then will you believe it, without knowing why. There stands the boy, and I stand here. With that girl over there, that stranger, he will find happiness - or what men believe happiness to be. God bless them!"

The young man, Octavian: "Something came, something happened. I want to ask, can it be? And this one question, I feel, is forbidden. I would like to ask, why is something trembling inside me? Was great injustice done? It's she that I may not ask that question of. And then I look at you, Sophie, and see only you and feel only your touch, Sophie. And then the only thing I know is - it's you I love."

The third point in this triangle, is the young woman, Sophie, the object of Octavian`s new love: "I feel as if I were in church. I think of holy things, and I'm full of fear. But I also think of not so holy things! I just don't know how I feel. I would like to kneel before that woman, and at the same time I would like to harm her in some way, because I feel that she's giving him to me and also taking away a part of him from me. I just don't know how I feel! I'dl like to understand everything, and I'd like not to understand a thing. I'd like to ask questions and not to ask questions. And I'm frightened. And I feel your touch and know only thing - it's you I love!"

Sublimely performed by Felicity Lott (Marschallin, Anne Sofie von Otter (Octavian) and Barbara Bonney (Sophie). Carlos Kleiber conducts the Wiener State Opera Orchestra in 1994.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

But is it Good Luck if They End up in your Bra?

I was huffing and puffing along doing my 5k, and of course I had to stop and play with the blossoms on Cherry Street. I'm not alone. There is a Japanese tradition of appreciating blossoming trees called Hanami. I believe, and I'm not sure this is Japanese or not, that having blossoms fall in to your food is also supposed to be fortunate.

Now, as crazy as last spring was, it was nothing compared to this schizophrenic weather we've been having. So no sooner had the blossoms arrived then they were frozen. Last year they were magnificent. This year, not so much, but I still couldn't resist.

I didn't picnic under them, or meditate or whatever else I might have done to exercise Hanami. But when I took my shower after I'd got home, I found petals in my bra.

Size Doesn't Matter

In the last few years I've started avoiding those big museum or gallery exhibits, I mean the really big league ones. One of the last I attempted was a timed-ticket Van Gogh exhbit in Philadelphia. I just walked in, and walked through, dodging the deep crowds wandering zombie-like with their special exhibit headphones plugged in. The next day I was lucky enough to visit the Delaware Art Museum, not tiny, but not huge, but perfectly wonderful with its famous collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art. Why then would I now settle for anything less than this modestly sized perfection?

Well, curiosity made me attend the Chagall exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario recently. But again, I just whipped through it, unable to really take in the splendour of his art. I couldn't get close to anything. As tall as I am, there were too many heads in the way. All my energy was taken dodging others. The Waterhouse exhibit in Montreal was a medium-sized exhibition, appeal wise, and that is part of why I loved it. Damn, I still think about that show.

Why am I going on about this? To introduce my favourite sort of museum or gallery: the small boutique version, whose focus is never going to be King Tut or the French Impressionists, and so will never attract the gazillions that, bless their hearts, can say they've attended, but really... can these shows be enjoyed? Not by me.

The Gardiner Museum in Toronto focuses on ceramics and it does so beautifully. Its history is a short and interesting one, and you can read about it here. For a decade or so it was run by the large Royal Ontario Museum across the street (you remember, where I had Freddy the Fossil identified?). It's independent again, but I have a souvenir of its ROM time hanging framed in my kitchen. I LOVE this poster.


The Gardiner has wonderful pieces, ancient and modern. It's an intimate look at our civilization, and at times its completely gobsmacking. I love the little commedia dell'arte figurines, the snuff boxes, and - of course - the chocolate services from the 18th century. Such tiny cups! Well it's hardly surprising if you consider how costly the newly discovered intoxicant was. Those teeny portions are the complete antithesis of our super-big-gulp servings of soda pops and other drivel. On my last visit to the Gardiner over the Christmas break, I saw an exhibit, The Tsar's Cabinet: The Luxury and Romance of the Romanovs. Stunning, but no wonder there was a revolution. How many hundreds-of-settings services does anyone need? Splendid but slightly sickening. Anyway, to end my ramble, I just wanted to say, if you live here, or if you're visiting, please visit the Gardiner Museum. It's a little gem.

Beach at Morning

Monday, April 16, 2012

Through Mind and Hand to Health

I attended a lecture tonight by Judith Friedland, on the history of Occupational Therapy in Canada and its links with and influences from the Arts and Crafts movement. It was inspiring and fascinating.

She's an excellent lecturer, weaving together the historical strands of mental health care, rehabilitation for soldiers after WWI, the gift of pride in one's work, the healing of spirits and bodies through rewarding work for the hands, and so much more. My thoughts were invigorated by those early ward aides, later to be more intensely trained occupational therapists, many of whom were war widows, and the dedication they showed in their training and subsequent postings to all over Canada.

Friedland's book, Restoring the Spirit: The Beginnings of Occupational Therapy in Canada, 1890-1930, is available online at Amazon (although I see they're temporarily out of stock).

Movie Magic

Old Hollywood movies and their stars informed and inspired my childhood and young adulthood. Like a frayed ribbon, those memories reach right back, and it's still to some of those old movies, and their remarkable magic, that I turn to now, when the need arises.

TCM showed an excellent documentary series of the history of Hollywood: Moguls and Movie Stars. The first two episodes, especially, were so intriuging, detailing the early days of moving pictures in France and in America, and the personalities (Auguste and Louis Lumière, Thomas Edison) who made it all happen. The series is available on DVD.

How fortuitous that at the same time I was watching the series I'd recorded last fall, I went to see the National Theatre's Travelling Light (part of their excellent Live in HD series). No, I didn't fly to London for the occasion, I saw it at one of our cinemas here in Toronto.

This new play by Nicholas Wright was directed by Nicholas Hytner and was truly, as the Guardian put it, "A love letter to the movies." Motl Mendl (a fictional character), in his older years as a Hollywood mogul, reflects back on his start in an Eastern European stetl, when - with a camera, a girl, and an infuriatingly wonderful friend (Jacob, played by Anthony Sher), he pretty much invents the creative medium that is the motion picture. This of course comes at a cost, and the play on words in the title. This will be rebroadcast in cinemas around the world this cinema. It was moving and exhilarating so, if you like old movies, this is for you!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Welcome to my Personal Hades... Sort of

Persephone is one of the gazillion characters you can read about in Greek mythology. She's the daughter of Zeus (the big guy) and Demeter, goddess of the harvest and the underworld. It's no wonder then that Persephone (or Proserpina in Roman mythology) was the goddess of vegetation.

She was wooed by different gods, but her mother chased them all off. At Zeus's bidding, Hades, the Lord of the Underworld, kidnapped Persephone, taking her to his dark lair. The crops withered or some such, and the potential starvation of the people convinced Zeus to make Hades return Persephone. There was some daft rule that anyone who had consumed food in the Underworld was forced to remain there. Tricky Hades had managed to persuade Persephone to eat four pomegranate seeds. This small consumption forced her to return to the Underworld for a period of each year, and that happened to coincide when the earth becomes barren!

I, too, have been cast in to my own personal hell. My naturopath informs me that pomegranates are inflammatory to my blood type (AB positive).

No... NO... NOOOOO!!!

And now for some art to soothe the soul... Dante Gabriel Rossetti's painting of Persephone (1874). His model was Jane Morris (William Morris's wife and Rossetti's mistress). See the pom in her hand? Lucky! I have a good poster of this framed in my living room. Who said that after the age of 30 you shouldn't have reproduction art in your home? Not me.

Sigh. The occasional bit won't hurt, but it won't be... like it was.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Yep... it's the Beach Again

I do my 5km almost every day. Cherry Beach is often the route. A few different angles of the beach.

Hut and the setting sun.

It's always there.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Dinner

Easter lunch became Easter dinner, when I found out I'd have to spend the morning in a photographer's studio selecting photographs from a shoot. Three hours later I was doing my 5km Cherry Beach walk. When I began dinner, I already had several elements that I'd prepared in the previous days. The theme... was lemon.

When I was a kid, my grandmother gave me some Beatrix Potter figurines by Beswick. I realized they would make good Easter decorations for the table.

We started with Prosecco and a potted crab with lemon that I unfortunately forgot to photograph. Rats!

The wonderful Armenians brought kibbeh for my freezer and nutty pastries for treats.

We started with pea and tarragon soup, swirled with lemon crême fraiche and topped with fresh pea shoots. All was made in advance. Don't you think the swirl looks like an old map of North America?

The main course was a Nicoise salad which I served on two separate platters. I love the chervil/parsley/Dijon/garlicky vinaigrette.

The second part of the Nicoise. Olives were in a separate little bowl on the table. See the lemon?

Dessert! I made a lemon pound cake a day before, along with little royal icing eggs. A round cut out of pound cake was drizzled with pears in Triple Sec, then dolloped softly with whipped cream and topped with the icing eggs and edible petals. My inner girly girl was very happy.