Autumn in High Park – Discovering Art!

After work the other day, I decided to go out for a walk and enjoy the autumn colours.  Now that B and I live within a 10 minute walk of High Park, I have no excuse.  I have every opportunity to enjoy the largest green space in Toronto.

It was a gorgeous evening and there were dozens of photographers floating around the park trying to capture the changing of the leaves, including me.

I don’t know why I don’t visit more often. The path near our apartment enters the park at the northern tip of Grenadier Pond and it’s a beautiful walk.  Paths like the one below always bring to mind Anne of Green Gables…a HUGE part of my childhood…and such landscapes make me want to sit down wherever I happen to be and start writing.

Our entry point to High Park

Saw some interesting ducks that I don’t believe I have seen before.  Cool markings, as though they got into a fight with some liquid paper.  And they all had this haughty attitude…as though they knew it would soon be time to go but “Damnit! Until then, this is OUR pond!”

 

 

There were some awesome fiery coloured trees in the park.  Unfortunately, I still haven’t learned the ins and outs of our new camera so the pictures I end up taking are never exactly what I’m seeing.

Sometimes, I think that’s the trick to photography.  Not only is it catching a moment, but it’s catching the moment as we actually see it…along with all the nuances and processing from our visual cortex that makes a sight so damn beautiful!

Often I find pictures similar to a dull photocopy of a photocopy.  They don’t carry the same impact as our actual experience.  Luckily though, done right, they can pry out a memory that is at times even stronger than the original moment and brings it all back…smells, reflections, thoughts, sensations.  Those are awesome pictures…and they’re few and far between.

Prior to my visit, someone or someones had spent A LOT of time creating an artistic rendering of fallen leaves.  I was walking across a small bridge when I saw this to my left:

Every leaf positioned perfectly and even the colouring chosen to give it a darker, deeper centre.  I spent a long time examining this creation. It was crazy how perfectly all the leaves had been placed and I wondered how long it had taken to create!

Then, I looked to my right:

 

Isn’t that absolutely fabulous!  So beautiful that I couldn’t help but take a dozen pictures! There is such movement in the stream, even though it has dried up and is choked with decaying leaves.  Whoever did this…thank you! It made my day!

I took some other shots on my way home…Grenadier Pond was quite still, offering some lovely reflections….

…and of course, a self-portrait had to be taken! 🙂

If you haven’t been to High Park…go!  It’s a getaway…a tiny piece of cottage country in the middle of a large, busy and often-times frustrating city!

Cute ‘n Sad Eeyore Fish

At the Pacific Mall in Toronto, there is an awesome pet store…
well, as awesome as stores dedicated to keeping little wee animals in small cages can be 😉

One of their main attractions is the huge number of aquariums they have on site and the large variety of odd sea life.

We came across glow in the dark crayfish, which were pretty cool!  Granted the glow was thanks to a purple light…but still!

I tried to get a picture or two but…have you ever tried to take pictures through glass??? What a pain!

The fish I did manage to capture…sort of…on camera…were the cutest little fish EVER! 

Cute, and yet sad.

Sort of like little Eeyore fish!

“Thanks for noticin’ us”
*sigh*

They looked SO morose.
Don’t you just want to give them a hug?
Tell them everything is going to be all right?

I did. 
So I spent a few minutes talking to them…channeling my inner fish whisperer…telling them that soon they would have a new owner and the whole world would open up to them!
And of course, they’d be purchased together!

My encouragement caught their attention…but I think they knew I was lying.

*sigh* “She’s baiting us with false promises.”
“What a biiiiitch!”

I imagined their voices as a high-pitched warble…kind of whiny…sort of like Fran Drescher but with bubbles and a long Eeyore sigh at the end.

 

Slugs are Cute and Disturbing

On my trip out west this summer, I saw some amazing things…mountains, the Pacific Ocean, sea lions…and on a walk one quiet evening in Redmond WA, a large slug.

B loves snails and slugs. Snails I could get behind, but slugs? Really? Even the name suggests the need to take a shower.

But this little guy/girl was, I admit, kinda cute and B took some great pictures of him/her.  I say him/her because slugs are hermaphrodites.  Dependant on their mood and the sexiness of their slug date, they can pull out either sex organ.  Cool!

Awwwww! Look at that face!

I mean really! How cute is that! With his/her eyes at different angles…so CUTE!

He/she was also incredibly emotive!

Curious slug is curious!

Bored slug is bored!

So, I gained a new appreciation for slugs.

They have a keep-them-off-me-cuteness to them.

And then….oh….and then I read up on slugs.

Don’t do that.

I learned new words, like “Apophallation“.

There are some words in the English language that one just doesn’t need to know.

Apophallation is one of them.

Living in Toronto – Month #1

I have lived in the city of Toronto for about a month now and I have really been enjoying it.  Mostly. 

There are some little things that I need to get used to but they aren’t so overwhelming that they overly colour my experience in a negative fashion.  They ARE worth blogging about though, if not just for the entertainment factor.

One of the big things that requires some adjustment is the proximity to my neighbours.  Well, I’d love to be able to adjust *their* proximity, but unfortunately it’s me that needs to get used to things.

I spent the last ten years living in an attic on the third floor of a house. I was far enough from my neighbours, and high enough that unless someone had a telescope in one of the highrises downtown and blocks away, there were no prying eyes in my windows.

Now, both my bedroom and my bathroom windows open to a view on my neighbours brick wall…which is about three or four feet away.  Their bathroom window is placed in line with mine so if we both crank them wide open, we can see into each other’s washrooms, wave at each other, share a bar of soap if one of us runs out…

Okay, I haven’t really waved or done the soap thing…or actually met them at all…but you see what I’m getting at.  These things *could* happen!

The other lovely thing about our washroom windows being peeping buddies is that we can pretty much hear everything going on!

Rustling shower curtains, the loooong Austin Powers pee.

You know, when you think strangers can hear you, you even fart differently!  The whole “let ‘er rip” freedom is lost.

The other problem with being on the ground floor, that I didn’t realize would be an issue, is my sense of safety.  The years I spent living alone in my attic abode, I felt incredibly safe.  I was three floors up.  Any psycho would have to bypass many other chaos causing opportunities, and be quite good at rappelling, to get up to my window.  Prior to that, I lived in a townhouse, attached to others on both sides, with a fenced in backyard, as well as a third floor apartment during college.

But now I’m on the ground floor.  A person can pretty much just walk up and take a peek if they wish. Sounds a little paranoid?  Yeah, I know. I’m not one to subscribe to the culture of fear that our media seems to like portraying every day in our newspapers but rational thought doesn’t figure in to it when you’re home alone and you wake up at 2am to some strange noise that sounds like someone taking a pee right outside your window!  (Granted, THAT could be my neighbour *actually* in their washroom…in which case, I’m just going to have to get used to it!)

Oh, and on that note, can I just add…

Wind chimes are EVIL!  They are all laughter and light during the day but once the sun goes down, they tap into every primal fear, every scary thought you have ever had!

Some of the creepiest moments in my new apartment have been due to my evil wind chimes.

EVIL Wind chimes!

You can’t tell me you haven’t experienced it….

It’s silent around the house.  You’ve just been roused from sleep by a creaking floorboard.  Omigod, is there someone in the house with you???

You listen intently.

Silence.

Not a whisper.  Even the air is still.

You sigh. Curl up under your warm duvet, hug your pillow and tell yourself that you’re being silly.

And then…

You hear the slight, very slight, tinkling of the wind chime in your kitchen.

Your heart jumps into your throat!!!! And you KNOW.  You just KNOW that every monster that ever hid under your bed is hovering outside your bedroom door just waiting for you to nod off.

It’s an open door for soul-sucking monsters and you promise yourself that in the morning, that wind chime will be in the rubbish bin!

So you sleep…sort of.  One eye open and all that.  Weird dreams, tossing, turning.  You see 3am, and 4am…5am…and then as the sun just starts to rise and lighten the day, you nod off and grab a heavenly 45 minutes of sleep.

First action item of the morning? To dispose of the evil Wind Chime from Hell!  But in the sunlight, it just looks so pretty and sounds so lovely…oozes such innocence that you convince yourself, “Pshaw! There’s no evil here. Look how lovely and pretty….”

You’ve lost the battle.

So what else have I learned in Toronto throughout my first month?

Well, there are a few things…

AstroTurf makes a great easy-to-care-for lawn…

Real grass or no?

But obvious seams give it all away!

Astro turf seam or ant trail?

Papasan Chairs work as garden decor!

Bracket fungus is COOL! (Okay, I already knew this, but I needed some type of heading so I could include this picture!)

Centipedes are CREEPY and like to live in my kitchen sink!

Fred the Centipede helping me figure out Ikea directions

***Centipede Community News Bulletin: Creepy or not, it must be mentioned that centipedes eat all the other pests that annoy us…flies, moths, even spiders (this particular meal doesn’t make me overly happy because spiders also have a job to do!).  So, if you are able to get over the creep factor (which I’m able to do somewhat so far because I don’t actually see them THAT often) and if your many-legged friends are able to keep well-hidden, they are actually kind of helpful. http://arthurevans.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/house-centipedes-on-the-move/

I have found that naming our centipede has helped. Fred has appeared in my sink twice and we have removed him…twice. As long as they stay the same size, I will continue to believe that it is always Fred returning to the scene as any thoughts entertaining the idea that there is more than one in my house cause me to run screaming like a banshee. ***

 

Nova Scotia Donairs CAN be made outside Nova Scotia and still be orgasmically delicious!

Nova Scotian flag on the Danforth! A little taste of home!

Awesome donairs made by the guys at The FuzzBox on the Danforth!! http://www.thefuzzbox.ca

And on a final note….I’d like to introduce two new members of our family!

Spike and Priscilla

I have managed to kill many a plant in my lifetime, but Priscilla especially is touted as a practically unkillable ZZ Plant!  

We shall see…..

Moving Extravaganza 2012

After ten years in a very cool apartment in the awesome city of Hamilton, I have up and moved to Toronto!

In some ways, it isn’t a huge change.  I’ve worked in Toronto for twelve years. I’ve shopped, hung out with friends, gone dancing at funky goth clubs, crashed on many couches and overall, enjoyed my time in TO.  And even though my little home in Hamilton has been 1-2 hrs away (sometimes 3 depending on traffic!), I always liked being able to leave the hustle and bustle of Toronto behind.

So what triggered the decision to move?  I’ve been stubbornly clinging to my Hamiltonian life for so many years…why now?

Well, I could say that it’s because I’ve been dating someone in Toronto for two years.
But he would have just as easily moved to Hamilton and found an apartment with me 🙂 so that wasn’t the deciding factor.

I think one of the biggest reasons is simply that I got tired of the commute.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve found myself spending 3, 4, sometimes 5 days in a week at B’s place in Toronto. Spending so much time here gave me a sense of what life would be like if I wasn’t commuting back and forth to work. How much extra time I would have in each and every work day.

Yep, commuting.  Twelve years!  It’s hard to believe it has been that long…I started when I was 21 and spend my 20s on trains, buses and subways.

Commuting in this instance meant getting up at 5am, catching the 6:15am train to Toronto, followed by the subway, arriving to work around 8:20 or so.  It also meant getting off work at 3pm, but arriving home around 6pm.

Initially, commuting back and forth wasn’t a huge deal.  I admit, getting up at 5am was a struggle at times, especially when the weather was crappy or when I’d decided the night before that I could stay up “a little later than normal”, but more often than not, I enjoyed my hour-ish long train ride. I wrote, read, sometimes got a lot done!

Okay…or I slept.  Sometimes there was just no choice in the matter! 😉

Over the years, I’ve also met some awesome people on the train!  The Train Gang!  My fellow commuters, who have more than once caused me to laugh to tears!  Dora the Explorer, Cranky Lady, the Tree Cow, Kumbaya, Itchy Cabbage Farts…the craziness and fun on the WestBound Lakeshore GO Train was never-ending! It’s THAT stuff that I’m going to miss!

Even some of those Train Gang members who stopped commuting over the years continue to be close friends and that, if nothing else, makes me thankful that I commuted for as long as I did.

But over the years, I’ve just grown weary of the travel.  The days where I finished work at 3pm and just wanted to be home without the long ride, became more and more common.

One evening, many years ago now, I sat down and calculated how much time I was spending travelling back and forth every year.  I included the walk to/from the train/subway station to my home/workplace, the GO train ride back and forth, as well as my subway ride to/from work.  It was years ago that I figured this out but the total stuck with me.

28 days spent annually, just traveling!

A a month of my life, every year, spent getting to where I was going. Times twelve years….that works out to be a year of my life. Granted, that was assuming I was commuting back and forth Mon-Fri for ten months of the year…and towards the end of the 12 years, my travel was less and less as I stayed in the city more and more….

But still!  28 days!

It was eye-opening.  A little shocking.  And thus, years later, I remember the number. It stuck with me, nudging me every so often when I was cranky and cursing the 5am darkness.

But over the past couple of years, as I mentioned, I began to spend more time in Toronto and I found myself enjoying the wake-up call at 6:30 or even 7am instead of 5.  I could stay up a little later, sleep in a little more and hey, I could be home by 4pm rather than 6.

And so, after more than a decade of stubbornness and  hundreds of conversations ending in “But I *LOVE* Hamilton!! I like being able to leave the big city behind!” I began to rethink my living arrangements.

Sure, the consideration began with a boy 🙂 but as I thought about the amount of time I was spending in Toronto already, the amount of work I was able to find that seemed to all be within the Greater Toronto Area, and the time I would save on a day-to-day basis…that 28 days loomed larger and larger.

So I made the decision and now, here I am…surrounded by corrugated boxes and chaos!  Well, day-by-day the chaos is giving way to organization and I have to admit, I like this part.  It involved trips to Ikea!  Always fun!

And although the move means I leave many friends in Hamilton, I know from massive experience that the trip is do-able and now when I commute, it’ll be because I choose to go and hang out with everyone!  (Or it’ll be when I want to rent a car as it’s SO much cheaper renting from Hamilton! *wink*)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PACKING

I began packing a month before the actual move date.  I spent a lot of time purging and getting rid of stuff.  Ten trips to the Thrift Store later, an apologetic woman with a somewhat panicked look in her eyes turned me away at the door.

“So sorry but we can’t take anymore donations.  No space! Our back room is packed to the ceiling!”

Wonder if that was all my stuff? Hehe

I even shredded old bills and papers…the four garbage days in April at my Hamilton apt looked somewhat like this:

I just have to say…I LOVE my paper shredder!

I did get rid of a lot, but not enough.  The Great Purging of 2012 continues at the new apartment and even though it can be time-consuming and frustrating, I really like the feeling of starting new…getting rid of old stuff that’s just weighing my down…that I don’t need…never use…can’t even identify…Ten years in the same apartment and stuff kind of piles up on you.

I attacked cupboards with gusto, especially in the kitchen.  Expiry date from six years ago? Into the bin it goes!

The problem with attacking cupboards first, is that you then find yourself going back to double-check…triple-check…quadruple-check (is that even a word?) and your brain is going,

“IT”S EMPTY!  YOU”VE ALREADY CHECKED!”

Eventually I solved this problem:

“We are empty! Leave us alone!”

“See that tape? DON’T TOUCH IT!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MOVING

Moving was an interesting experience.   I began the search for helpful minions…I mean friends!!…weeks prior to the day 😉  I am SO appreciative to those who helped out on the day because they had to deal with this….

My stairs!

Yep, I lived in an attic at the top of those 40 stairs.  B counted them for me. Then multiplied them out by how many trips he made up and down the staircase.

It was far! 😉

Or is that high?

Anyway…so yeah, I can’t blame anyone for being busy that day! LoL I *also* wanted to be otherwise indisposed but you know, it was my apartment and stuff so I figured I should be there. *wink*

The wood planks on the stairs were my friend Mimi’s idea…Thanks Meems!  What an awesome suggestion!

Non-fragile boxes were slid down the planks and even heavy boxes were held but moved via sliding…SO much easier!!

We took about four hours to load up almost everything, with a break in there of course!

Feeding the minions! …Ahem…friends!  My lovely most awesomest friends!!!

Chilling after hours of stair-climbing

Where’s the beer?? 😛 (Peter! You crack me up! lol)

Response to the question…”How you guys doing? Shall we head up and get the remaining boxes?” 😛

By the end of the four hour loading…we were all starting to lose focus and the silliness was creeping in!

Peter winding up my lights for me. Ineffective! 😛

The ECSTATIC and HAPPIEST part of the day?
Arriving at the new place…which is on the main floor of a house…and unloading the 4-hr load in barely 90 minutes!!!

Our new place is behind the windows to the right of Ben, who was trying out our new porch!

To all my insanly awesome and supportive friends, those who made it out on the day and those who were unable, I love you all! I am so lucky to have such amazing people in my life!

Thank you all so much!

Oil Paintings that Glow

I’m not one for bright rainbow colours.  I mean, my closet is filled with black and the odd hint of red/purple/navy.  So, usually, bright multi-coloured art doesn’t really catch my interest.

This isn’t a black and white rule though, as a friend recently proved to me.

She introduced me to the oil paintings of Leonid Afremov (afremov.com).  The colours he uses are spectacular…especially in his night scenes where it almost appears as though light is actually shining from the canvas.

He tends to use large, short brush strokes, creating the kind of painting that has a stronger impact the further back you are as you look at it.  

Rain Princess is one of my absolute favourites! 

Rain Princess

I love the figure in the middle…long and lithe, seemingly untouched by the suggested rain.  The painting itself reminds of those Magic Eye puzzles…you know the patterns you would stare at and bring close to your face until the hidden 3D image appeared?…except in this case it’s the opposite.  Staring at it up close, the environment seems to be simply  random brushstrokes but hold it away, or step back, and a whole setting appears.  So much created with so little detail.  Spectacular.

 The following two are also beautiful!  Alley by the Lake and Misty Mood really sum up what I like about his nighttime lighting.  It practically glows!  The environments are so rich and alive, the colours so dynamic!

Alley by the Lake

Misty Mood

 Although I’m not sure any of these gorgeous pieces would match my decor, I don’t seem to mind coming back to look at them again and again!

Just felt like sharing!  Happy almost-Friday!

Dr Marten, We used to be friends!

<Rant Mode: ON>

Earlier this week, I spent some time on Queen St West in Toronto, specifically to find myself a pair of classic 20-hole Doc Martens.

Fail.

You’d think finding a classic pair of Doc Martens would be a fairly straightforward process but sadly it was an exercise in frustration.  I suppose you could say the frustration actually began before that. It began with the reason I had to purchase new boots at all.

I came into the Doc Marten fad a little late…bought my first pair of 14-hole Docs when I went away to college in 1997. Those boots were crazy comfy and I wore them daily for years!

They lasted almost a decade before the soles gave out and the leather cracked.  Boots of that quality were worth the money in my opinion, so I replaced them in the late-2000s.

Little did I know that in 2003, Dr Marten moved its production to China and Thailand.  More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Martens  Some say that the quality of the boot hasn’t changed much, but my experience suggests otherwise.

I bought replacement 14-hole boots in 2007 or so…unsure exactly when. About two years ago, I had to stop wearing them (or at least only wear them on dry days) due to holes in the leather.

Both boots had holes, on both sides.  Sure, one could argue…you had 3 or more years of wear out of them…that’s pretty good for a pair of boots. But based on my initial experience, I found myself nursing some disappointment. Especially when I take care of my boots…I polish them, clean them, waterproof them…and yet, they still only gave me a few years of wear.

So, in September 2010, a flagship Doc Marten store opened up in Toronto on Queen Street West. http://www.torontolife.com/daily/style/shop-talk/2010/09/23/introducing-dr-martens-opens-store-on-queen-west/  Within months, I visited the shop to purchase a pair of boots. I aimed for 20-holes and convinced myself that the 14-holed holey boots were simply a fluke.

I chose a pair of 20-holes that had a black sole and a zipper…somewhat different than your classic Doc but still close enough that they resembled what I had worn for years.  The addition of the zipper changed the shape of the booth, causing them all to be somewhat large around my calf, but that is a typical problem for me and I talked myself into overlooking that by convincing myself that I could wear thicker socks, not to mention that I’d be wearing them over pants etc.  (Little did I know that the zippered Doc was soon to become practically my only option!)

As of a few weeks ago…at less than two years of wear…the soles of my newest 20-holed pair cracked…deep enough that a local shoe cobbler told me he couldn’t fix them.

Again, these are boots that I cleaned, polished and waterproofed on a regular basis.  It was disappointing to see crack in both soles…especially when I felt as though I had yet to really wear down the soles at all.

I spent a solid day with a wet foot and decided to bite the bullet and go purchase yet another pair.  A sucker for punishment, I suppose.

So, as I mentioned, this week I headed back to the Doc store on Queen St West.  I decided on my way that I would aim for a pair of classic, tie-up 20-hole Docs: http://www.dmusastore.com/p-1353-9663-20-eye-boot.aspx

Upon arrival at the store, I was told that most of their boots were zippered, except for a selection of 14-holed pairs, not to mention they didn’t carry the same 20-holed style that I had purchase less than two years before.

The 20-holes all had zippers (so all of them wouldn’t fit my calves properly) and the only pairs they carried that were both 20-hole and heavy leather were in red and purple.  On the main international website, it was discovered that the classic style boots I was looking for were only available in size 3UK!  Definitely not big enough for my size 10 feet!

I left disappointed.  The fact that they didn’t have the original style of boot was frustrating and seemed somewhat ridiculous. To add to that, I was looking to spend *another* $200 after less than 2 years on a pair of boots that I believe should have lasted me much, much longer…and not even being able to spend the money made the experience that much more annoying!

Dr Marten, I’m feeling quite disillusioned.

A bright spot in all of this is that a friend of mine dug out his old 14-holes and gave them to me.  He hadn’t worn them in a long time and said that if they fit, I could take them.  They did.  So I did. 🙂

But I still want a pair of high 20+ holed boots!

I’ve been researching online, trying to find other companies that sell similar boots….

http://www.nps-solovair.co.uk/home.html

http://www.whiteandco1890.com/html/tredair.html

http://www.britboot.co.uk/engine/shop/search?ssv=20+hole+boot

No luck finding anything nearby…yet.  Montreal is the closest I have found…http://www.dmusastore.com/p-1353-9663-20-eye-boot.aspx  and I have to admit that the Tredair boots have caught my attention: http://www.boots4all.com/index2a.htm  I actually emailed Tredair to ask if their boots were sold in Toronto at all.  The response I got pointed me to the store mentioned above in Montreal, or another store in San Diego, CA.  Yeah, a bit of a distance.

I have spent years wearing my Doc Martens.  They’ve been my favourite footwear for a long time, but Dr Marten, you’re slowly losing my trust.

The search continues for 20-holes continues…

<Rant Mode: OFF>