Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Party Palace

Well we made a major change up around here on Monday. We moved some of our stuff from the garage which had Staggs archives some clothes and hats that he had had in storage in our old apartment into the house. And we went through all the stuff in Grandmas basement and re-packed them and moved them into the garage. I have been dusting and washing the floor and moving furniture around...and I was so tired Monday night I just crashed. But...we have made a game room or party room in the basment. We really want to have a few parties come the fall and start a game night. And maybe a reading now we definately have enough of a sitting room. We have a big huge table down here as well with chairs for puzzles or card games or trivia etc. Stagg was learning how to play crib in Vancouver with our nephews so we can take it up again. It feels good to stretch our legs around here. we'll let you know when we have the big party! Meanwhile we had Tricia over last night. Her and I went to a Quiz Night at our mutual old neighbourhood pub and had a blast. We totally didn't do well trivia-wise but it was a lot of fun. She was able to sleep over because we fixed up a room with a good bring on the game night guests!
These little bottles make me feel like I'm Kathleen Turner in Romancing The Stone.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Film Buff, R.I.P.

When I first moved to Toronto I had left a fairly large group of friends and family on the west coast which I spent a lot of time with. I was a single parent and I knew very few people in my new city and so I was often home on a Saturday night and pretty darned lonely. I didn't have cable and the major memory I have of tv back then was the crazy innovative channel "City Tv" which ran blue movies at midnight, cult movies and music interviews with a multicultural group of journalists. It was striking, and I loved it, but there was another channel which offered a fair bit of interesting programming as well. A channel which had some cooking and science shows, kids programing, and documentaries. On Saturday evening they had an odd man who was totally geeky looking but he would choose two movies and play them almost back to back WITHOUT COMMERCIALS! And not just any movies. He loved the classics, film noir and artsy films. He seemed to genuinely look at movies like I did...democratically. Actually, back then...tons of movie buffs loved all kinds of movies. There wasn't the kind of cynicism we see today about movies and other mass media entertainment. The host of this Saturday night program was Elwy Yost. Yes, even his name sounded like a guy who might be overly excited and nerded out about things...doesn't it? I thought everything about this guy was so cute.

Now...the trick is here people...that not only did I get exposed to an incredible mixture of movies...he also interviewed EVERYONE in movies. No, I mean everyone. From make up artists, to cinematographers to the movie stars. He interviewed Robert Mitchum, James Stewart and Tippi Hedren for example. These are some of the only exisiting interviews of depth with these classic movie stars. Very in depth coverage of behind the scenes in movies. And they foreshadowed The Actors Studio. or dvd "extras". At the time when I first moved into Toronto I was taking an intensive movie making workshop at Ryerson university. To juxtaose the movies, interviews with all the technical work and networking I was doing downtown was an extremely exciting and inspiring time for me. I learned so much about movies during this time period.

If you google Elwy Yosts name you will find tributes all over the place and the main word associated with him was ENTHUSIASM. Yost was so excited about actors, movies and he would just know so much about the process. He loved looking at movie sets in Hollywood...taking his half million watchers with him. Yes, it was a huge ratings for this little tv station. 500,000 viewers would tune in on a Saturday night. I'll tell you once I started meeting people...I would still video tape this program. Or I would STAY HOME and watch...sometimes having friends over for snacks and to watch these double bill evenings. After I got cable and the movie networks...Elwy Yosts programming was still compelling enough to keep me watching. He showed movies like The Last Detail, Drums Along The Mohawk Cape Fear Night Of The Hunter, many of which were my introduction to these particular movies. He was so kind and energetic in his interviews and so excited about all movies. It's no surprise one of his kids grew up and became a massive writer in Hollywood. And its no surprise that Toronto is a huge movie city...people in Toronto love the movies and are often a gauge of a movies influence, even outside of the Toronto Film Festival scene. I believe that Elwy Yost educated Torontonians in movie history and appreciation. He had an interesting life as he had studied sociology, he made one of the first independent films in Canada, and he worked on the Avro Arrow (which is legend itself). Thanks for all the fun and movies Elwy Yost!

p.s. Yost passed away in July, but I am behind in my blogging, and I really wanted to acknowledge his massive influence.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cook Out In Pilsen

You all know we love Pilsen. We have a few friends who live in our favourite neighbourhood and my girlfriend Zandra had us over for a little cook out. I love the term cook out. I'd never heard of it before till I met our book club buddies (who live next door to Zandra!) We saw our friends Tony and Brooke and their adorable baby Evangeline. Is't that an awesome name? It was so good to catch up with Zandra and we both had a lot of stories to catch up on. We had steak and Puerto Rican seasoned tilapia and lots of left overs for doggie bags.

Put A Bird On It

When we were busking we had a joke about making owls and them being so popular. One time Stagg came home saying "We need more owls!" My daughter just sent this lip to me...funny!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Around The Joint

Oops, I am still inconsistent when taking pictures from my phone. I haven't taken that many pics with it yet and I shake or wobble sometimes. Here is one of the little cat paintings we bought from a woman in New Orleans. She painted it with her fingers in oil. I just love it and here it is in the fresh painted kitchen.

Downstairs the basement has a whole stove and set of cookware because Grandma used to cook Polish sausages in the oven broiler for parties. I found these two cabinets and have put them together to make a little island for working in the kitchen up stairs. They have cupboards and shelves and they have really improved the traffic flow and work area for making soup and serving. We were in a department store the other day and they had much smaller islands for sale at $250 so I feel so good about repurposing these cabinet pieces.

Here's our little buddy all upgraded and online with FB. We have the tv and computer set up nearby each other for a change to see how that works out.

We found this huge lamp down the basement and I thought it was really beautiful. I love tassles and plants and curlycues which are motifs on this 4 foot high lamp!. The lamp doesn't have a shade I've been looking around and I think a huge black and white stripped shade would be cool on this I've put a black and white shade above this pic to see if I can get an idea of what it might look like...

There is a cafe down the street for the retirees in this neighbourhood and they often have art on the walls for sale. One week they had all this art work by someone who had seemed to have taken some lessons like the ones seen on PBS or cable programs on how to be an artist. There were about a hundred paintings all of landscapes with the same repeated techniques of using a brush in one way to "make a tree" or "make a river" or "make a waterfall". It was fascinating to see so many paintings knocked out by one person...all following a system of artmaking. They were for sale for $10.00 each and I found the one above that I thought the colours were kind of cool. Most of his paintings were in browns, and blues straight from the tubes...but this one showed a unique sense of colour...I liked the red I wanted to support someone out there trying something new in their life. Many people say when they retire they are going to take up art or music...and this idea has always fascinated me...because artists don't retire. Other jobs...people look forward to retiring but artists are one of the few jobs where we don't retire. I remember there is a famous anecdote in Canada about the writer Margeret Atwood at a party and she meets a neurologist and he says to her" When I retire I want to take up writing". And she says to him "Thats ironic because when I retire I want to take up brain surgery". Anyways...I liked this painting and for $10 thats a great deal huh?

I picked up some fabric and sewed new covers on pillows. I went to a fantastic second hand store in Wi. and got a velvet skirt which I cut up to cover a pillow here. The little green footstool is from our back alley someone was throwing out It's so fantastic to have a tv again i must say. ha ha...I did really well not watching my stories all these months but it sure has been terrific to catch up on last seasons Celebrity Rehab, Bill Maher and The Closer etc etc. Celebrity Rehab was much better than I expected...i thought the program might have run its course but I found the stories of the people very touching. I was shocked to see Sean Young involved on this tv show...although all these years I suspected she was an alchoholic when she was on interviews and some of her behaviour and comments back in the 1980's. I absolutely love Sean Young back in the day. After I saw Blade Runner. I used to try and get my hair and dress like her "replicant" character and I just loved her...she wasn't in a lot of movies but she had such a wonderful energy in the movies she did make. (Dune and No Way Out). I was also very surprised at how much I cared about Amy Fishers story. I thought at fist it was a real all time low for tv getting Amy Fisher on this reality show...but I was wrong. Her story is compelling and emotional...and the people on this show demonstrate so much of the contemporary human condition. It is a real gift on tv for this program out there. Amazing. I also fell in love with Bai Ling who is an actor. She grew up in China and served in the army stationed in Tibet and in her therapy she revealed abuse by high ranking soldiers. She was such a victim and so low esteem that she actually didnt even see that something wrong was done to her. Her story, her personality, her mixture of sorrow and style is really touching to witness. During this season, a former patient, and rock star, died. I found the montage of his time in rehab lovely and sad...Mike Starr from Alice In Chains had been on several seasons of the program in various treatment programs. I think this tv show is so incredible and so spiritual to see on television and hopefully helping young people.

Here is Stagg doing some painting in the kitchen. Right now we've been mostly doing some small paintings in the kitchen...but we have options in the coming weeks. I think I might insulate the garage which might be a nice place to set up some painting space. We also have a decent potential in the basement...but there is some water leaking from the furnace which we are getting fixed next week or so...and then I want to paint up the floor. The basement could also be a great game room and place to paint. The pictures below are Stagg's Man Cave. He's got his guitars and magazines in there with a small stereo and he likes hanging out in this little side bedroom off the living room. We're going to move a couch in there too pus pick up his drums he's had at his friends place up north for years. So it's kind of fun for Stagg having this extra room.

Check out the photo of Stagg meeting Keith Harring! Wow!

Friday, August 26, 2011

More About The Hood

Continuing the "research" about this neighbourhood...this is our local corner. We can catch the El train here to the airport or downtown. I've talked to a few people at a local cafe here with internet service and many long time residents say this street didn't always feel or look like this. Years ago it had little shops and bars and restaurants. Now it is much like a strip mall with petrol stations, fast food joints running between small and large malls circling very pretty residential streets.

At this corner we would come to use a phone or a computer...

You can see the contrast between the barren strip mall street corners and then on the residential streets...

Working on the garage...

Here is what I've been working on by scraping paint in order to repaint.

Stagg pitched in with some sanding.

These are a couple buddies I met through a local internet cafe. Stagg and I went out for lunch with them this week. The two fellows both work for the post office and we picked one up during his lunch hour. Both are hearing impared so we had lots of paper and pens with us. I can sign the alphabet but its slow going...these two guys spell a lot word by word and they go fast. One fella is also blind and he is amazing at spelling with sign by touch...really fast. We had a lovely lunch of Chicago beef hot sandwiches.

We found a terrific grocery store...I love it it reminds me of getting food in Canada. It's an international grocery store not too far from us. About a 15 minute drive or so. Just look at the choices of yoghurt...they carry dozens of kinds from Greece, middle east, domestic. Heaven.

A wall of herbs...I've bought bundles and bundles of cilantro...

Stagg looking for basmati rice..

Grandma's Has Wifi, Yippee!

Lookie there, what's that you ask? An electric knife hanging in the pantry, thats what! You know I love making soup...but as much as I love Butternut Squash Soup...I always forget how difficult it is to cut the butternut apart. The other day at the vegie section I realized hey, I should try that electric knife on a butternut. It worked out very well. I took a little video below. That is the first video I have uploaded from my phone and it works pretty snazzy.

We're online again and it feels great to use the computer and watch tv. I loved sitting outside tonight with a Screwdriver and checking email on my phone out in the backyard. A wonderful evening!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Protector, R.I.P.

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." from Jack Laytons' last message to Canadians: "Dear Friends"

I only just now got online with our computer and have been fairly cut off...and just got a phone (and tv we have been without here) and called my daughter who told me Jack Layton died on Monday. I voted for Jack in Vancouver just recently and have worked on his campaigns and been to celebratory parties for him over the years. We were neighbours for many of the years I lived on the east end in Toronto and he was always around on his bike and he was approachable on so many levels. I am a wreck with this news partly because he was such an awesome civil servant and because in so many ways he is the last of old-school Canadian traditional politics. I am sorry for our loss of a massive political animal and public servant but also because he represents so much of what I love about Canada: Tolerance, compassion. energy, humour, passion, equality. I feel Canada has been going to hell ina handbasket for several years now and Jack Layton was a force keeping the traditions and conservative values that defined the Canada I grew up in. Canada is not only not the country my grandparents lived in but its not even the country my parents lived in anymore. Jack Layton was one of the the conservative traditional and hopeful energies of Canada that countered the extremists in power recently. We've lost a legend and a fantastic person. Poor poor Canada.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I am still LOVE LOVE LOVE-ing Kayne West's album from last year. He may be terrible Mr. Faux Pas when he talks but he is brilliant when he writes and sings.

Well, we just got our computer fixed. It took a few days and a couple of trips back and forth (they forgot to give us our power cord back and I forgot to double check) from the church Apple Store...but it's ready to go online and all synced with our iPhone. Whoo hoo! We don't have internet till next week but we can play a dvd and watch some movies this weekend. We had to get a new Superdrive and more RAM. I changed the RAM myself which I've never done that before...and it worked out okay. All was working fine at the store today. I can now make a bunch of playlists on our desktop iTunes and swith them over to iPod on my phone so that is very exciting. And I moved the music we had on the iPod/iPhoen to the desktop. Fun.

I am still working on the garage...and we've done a bit of work sorting and cleaning the basement and we moved bedroom furniture and other stuff all around the last couple days. Now that we are more settled in and have places for our clothes and stuff I'm starting to really enjoy being in the house and it's getting really really comfortable. I plan on painting a kind of "antiqued" bedroom set bright daffodil yellow. We were at a "games day" with our friends Jason and Mike a couple weeks ago...The colour suggested by Jason when I showed him pics and said I was trying to figure out what colour to paint the furniture...I was torn between black, lime green or white and he came up with daffodil intense I am going to go for it.

Last weekend we went to Wisconsin and stayed with my friend Tricia...Andy drove down from North Wisconsin and we just played "Rockband" all night on Friday then on Saturday Tricia had friends over for a party. It was amazing how quickly we could drive across the Cheese Curtain to get to Tricia's's about an hour with traffic between our places. Awesome.

Oh yeah, and we also went second hand shopping in WI and I got some great deals and some good clothes.

So it's Friday now and we are up to housework and movies...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

As The Banks To Housing Here, So Germany To Europe?

What is the difference between what is happening in the United States and what is happening to Europe in this Post-Industrial Era? Vanity Fair has a pretty good article this month about the relationship of Germany to the rest of Europe...which helped me understand a little here for online article version...