Monday, July 30, 2007

Birthday weekend

I had a really great birthday. Some highlights:

I had an excellent dinner with Leigh Anne at La Palette on Friday, the night before my birthday. That night, I had a dream in which I was given a $1,000 gift certificate for a wonderful cafe/restaurant/bookstore. Also, there was a very well-dressed tiny person who lived in my purse and gave me useful and insightful advice.

On Saturday, brunch with Alison at the Red Tea Box, where we had these very pretty cakes:

Pretty cakes

In the evening, drinks with a crowd of good friends on a nice leafy patio. Serife gave me a sunflower! Andy gave me cookies from Queen of Tarts!

Sunday, it was warm and sunny and Leslie took me on a drive to Presqu'ile Provincial Park. We drove through lush green farmland and saw a lot of farm animals, including a herd of white goats, clustered on a kind of tiered climbing/feeding structure so that they looked like a goat wedding cake. We had club sandwiches and coffee at a roadside diner, and then splashed around in Lake Ontario and lay in the sun on the broad sandy beach. On the way back, we bought fresh raspberries from a stand.

And then in the evening: THEREMIN!

A performance by New York-based theremin virtuoso Dorit Chrysler at Mercer Union.

Dorit Chrysler live at Mercer Union

This is the second time I've posted a photo of a woman playing a theremin. (Longtime Squiddity readers may recall this picture of Margaret Atwood.) There is a reason for this. Can there be anything cooler than a woman playing a theremin? I think not.

And so, here is a picture of me playing a theremin!

Me vs theremin 2

Ms Chrysler was kind enough to let audience members try her instrument out after her performance. It was my first-ever hands-on theremin experience! (My thanks to the woman in black who took these pictures for me, but whose name I did not get.)

Also: During my walk home, I walked past a fire station, and a cute firefighter said hello to me.

More theremin photos here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Staring therapy

Therapy session

I was walking through Kensington Market with Alison and Torquil last Saturday when we happened upon a gazebo in the middle of Nassau Street, containing the above tableau: a woman was holding up a succession of small, random objects, and a man was staring intently at each of them through a decorated cardboard tube. A sign said STARING THERAPY. In the adjacent front yard, a yard sale seemed to be taking place -- mostly CDs and records -- and lots of people were hanging out. I spotted Seth Scriver, and asked him what was going on. It turned out to be a fundraising sale for Staring Therapy, a group show by Toronto artists in a Philadelphia gallery: they need money primarily to cover shipping. "There's also a Value Village in the basement," Seth noted, and lo, there was:

Lurking in the basement

I went down and poked around and talked to the guy who had set the whole thing up, who I'm guessing was Sandy Plotnikoff, though I forgot to ask his name. He told me that in the fall, he will be teaching a thrift shop course at U of Guelph. It'll be a visual arts studio course, with studios set up in 3 shops around the town.

I got a nice embroidered jacket and a piece of vintage print fabric for a grand total of $5, then caught up with Alison and Torquil, who had moved on to the patio at Ronnie's, across the street. "That was seriously the Most Hipster Thing Ever," I said.

If you want to help out an artistic cause, pick up some great vintage clothes & indie music cheap, and experience the concentrated hipsterness for yourself, they'll be doing it again this Sunday, July 29th. Nassau St. across from Ronnie's, near I Deal Coffee.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pigeon parents


I have a backlog of stuff I want to post about, which is likely to appear here in random, non-chronological order, quite a while after it actually happened. I am so glad I don't have an editor to answer to. For now, please enjoy these photos of nesting pigeons. One nest (on U of T campus), two pigeons: they appeared to be co-parenting.


Monday, July 23, 2007

The perfect Scream

Dewdney gets started
I am a little late in posting about the Scream, but it's worth noting that it went really well. Really, really well. So well that by the end of the Mainstage, event coordinator Maggie was saying she had a overwhelming sense of existential closure, and maybe we should just scrap the Festival for next year and start from scratch. That may just have been the sleep deprivation talking, however.

These are a couple of shots from the book-length reading, which went spectacularly well. Christopher Dewdney read A Natural History of Southwestern Ontario at the Brickworks, as the light faded & swallows swooped over the pond behind him. The work and venue could not have been more perfectly matched, the dinner was lovely, Dewdney's reading was superb. The only flaw for Hilary and me was that we'd forgotten to bring sweaters, but when night fell and it grew chilly, Sharon fetched a sleeping bag from the trunk of her car & kindly loaned it to us to huddle under -- another appropriately outdoorsy touch to the evening.

Book-length audience at Brickworks

I don't have photos from the nature walk, because I was busy hosting it! Jamie was there and took a few pictures. This event, too, was a roaring success. Beginning at the Coach House, Steve and I led a group of maybe 25 people through the Annex, encountering wild poets in their natural habitats along the way. Highlights included a poet lurking at the bottom of a gopher hole in the Huron/Washington parkette (William Davison recorded himself reading, then dug the hole & secreted a tape player at the bottom of it), the capturing and tagging of the migratory Hugh Thomas in Gwendolyn MacEwen Park (achieved using a quantity of garden netting and a "transmitter" made out of a flashing LED rave toy + a dog-collar purchased at Dollarama), and a poet mating ritual on the terrace of an ice-cream booth, which began suddenly and unexpectedly & visibly startled the lone patron who was there when we arrived.

And of course, at the Monday night mainstage, it did not rain! There was a slight sprinkling at one point, but our intrepid audience pulled out their umbrellas & stayed put.

Click here for all my Scream pics.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Scenes from a village

The raft, closer

I spent the July 1 long weekend up in the village of Wakefield, Quebec, a short drive from Ottawa. My dear friends Paul and Allysun got married there on the Saturday, in a gorgeous ceremony on a covered bridge. (You can see the covered bridge in the above picture, to the right.) Sunday was Canada Day, an occasion that Wakefield famously goes all out to commemorate. There's a flotilla of local boats on the Gatineau River, the centerpiece of which is the raft, above. Every year the local teens build the raft (this year's was apparently unusually small; Paul swears the one last year was 4 stories high), and then they all crowd onto it on Canada Day, barbecuing things over an open flame and drumming on barrels. You can hear the beat from way downriver. They throw parties on it all summer, then tear it apart & burn it in a bonfire on Labour Day.

While the flotilla drifted by on the water, the parade proceeded down Riverside Street. A highlight for me was the Man with a Tea-Cozy On His Head:

The man with a tea-cozy on his head

Allysun told me he's the village poet, and he also raises chickens. If you order a dozen eggs from him, he will throw in a free poem.

Astonishingly, right in the middle of the parade, ten Snowbirds in perfect formation thundered out of the sky to the south, swooped over the village and then vanished over the horizon again. It all happened so quickly I didn't manage to get a photo of it. The other indication of the village's proximity to Ottawa was the brief appearance of Stephane Dion at the outdoor roast chicken dinner later that day.

I spent the day wandering up and down the main street with Allysun, who was congratulated by practically every person we encountered (she's a Wakefield local), and riding around on the river in best man Ryan's motorboat. Then at night there were fireworks, and Wax Mannequin opened for Fiftymen at the legendary Black Sheep Inn. By that point we were all completely exhausted, but in a good way.

Lots of photos here!