Monday, April 4, 2016

Mambo Italiano

Dreaming of Italy with Rosemary Clooney

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Walk on the Toronto Islands

On Easter weekend John and I decided to bike over to the Toronto Islands for a holiday excursion with our friend Shelley.

Fun to pull away from the shore.
We caught the 3 o'clock ferry to Wards Island on a sunny afternoon.
 A number of Toronto families had the same idea.
 A glimpse of the yacht club across from the Wards Island dock.
 We dropped in our our friend Q at her cottage and she suggested a hike into the woods.
 It reminded me of traditional Good Friday hikes of my youth.
 We emerged on the east side of the Islands with the lakers in the channel.
Lakeside moss.
 After a stroll along the quay we headed back into the brush.
 There was little visible sign of Spring other than the sun and relatively high temperatures.
 Birch trees amid the dogwood.
 Finally we arrived at the sandy beach on the north side of Ward's Island.
 This brave soul even tried wading. Brrrrrr!
A glance back along the beach 
 from the north side boardwalk.
 Then we headed south to cross the bridge to Algonquin Island.
 Algonquin has lovely cottages both big and small and mature trees
 as well as a great view of Toronto and its harbour.
The sun was setting as we caught the ferry back to the mainland. What a lovely Easter excursion!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How Not to Translate Apuleius

It is never too late to acquire a classical education, right? Bill and I have recently had a hankering to read some Latin literature.  We're visiting Rome in the spring and looking for some travel reading.

Browsing in a local bookstore, I picked up The Golden Ass by Apulieus.

Apuleius rang a bell. I don't know anything about him or this book but it sounded exactly like the kind of classical text I was looking for. But I was disappointed by the first line. After a paragraph of introduction I found this opening sentence: 

"I was on my way to Thessaly -- for on my mother's side our family goes back there, being proud to number among our ancestors the distinguished philosopher Plutarch and his nephew Sextus -- I was on my way, I say, to Thessaly on particular business." [translated by E. J. Kenney, 1998]

What an awkward sentence -- I had to read it twice in order to believe my eyes. I know who Plutarch is, but should I know who is Sextus is? Will I need to look him up in the notes? Will this book be full of obscure references like that? I'm the kind of reader who panics easily. I'm only on the first line and I'm panicking. 

So I was pleased to find a different edition a week later.  This one is translated by Robert Graves. Could be interesting.

Here's how Robert Graves translates the opening --

Business once took me to Thessaly, where my mother's family originated; I have, by the way, the distinction of being descended from the famous Plutarch. [trans. 1950]

Now this is a book I can read. "Originated" is so much better than "number among our ancestors". Sextus was obviously inessential. And who has not had business that took us somewhere? Could be the opening of a traditional ghost story.

Easy, colloquial, contemporary even. Very promising for the rest of the tale. This one is going in my bag.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade

John and I have missed all the Winter Solstice celebrations in Kensington Market so despite the drizzle on the night, we were determined to get there this year. 
We were beguiled by this collection of clowns singing an satirical version of The Twelve Days of Christmas on Augusta Avenue.
Kensington Avenue had some wonderful shadow-puppet theatres. Some of the kids in the audience got a chance to go backstage
and help put on the puppet show.
Other theatres lined the street.
Lantern bearers mixed with the crowd.
These young thespians were in full performance mode. The green knight sang an exhortation to dance and sing in celebration of the new year.
My favourite group was this screeching chorus of hags singing songs about longing for love. 
Great fun!  We'll definitely try to return next year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Tree Party

 Our friend Nancy had her annual tree-trimming party last weekend.
Nancy and Gareth
Nancy behind the bar,  with Monika and Glenn, Cathy and Chantel in the foreground.
 Nancy's signature Christmas cocktail -- the Poinsettia. It is the perfect pick-me-up before the serious business of decorating the Christmas tree.
 Carmelized onions and cheese grilled on focaccia -- typical of the amazing fare.
Thanks for having us, Nancy.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Walk to the AGO Turner Exhibition

Recently after a breakfast at the Mars Diner on College Street, John and I ducked down Lippincott Street on our way to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
 We love the little workmen's homes on Lippincott
 although we were surprised to find new structures there
 and on Oxford Street as we headed east.
 As we came to Augusta Avenue on our way through Kensington Market we turned right at the Big Fat Burrito restaurant.
 Crossing Spadina Avenue we walked along Cecil Street with the Ukranian Church in the distance.
 A last jaunt down Beverley Street to the AGO brought us past the grand old yellow brick buildings above Dundas St West.
 We'd come to see the exhibition of work by J.M.W. Turner, Painting Set Free. We were particularly floored by his gorgeous watercolours. This is Ehrenbreitstein, 1841.
 Funeral at Lausanne, graphite and watercolour, 1841.
The Blue Rigi: Sample Study, around 1841-1842.
 Goldau, with the Lake Zuh in  the distance: Sample Study, graphite and watercolour, 1842
Turner's in that abstract vein are well represented.  Peace - Burial at Sea.
 Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth making Signals in Shallow Water, and going by the Lead. The Author was in this Storm on the Night the Ariel left Harwich, exhibited in 1842.
 The mix of abstract visions and hazy apparitions is quite overwhelming. Whalers (Boiling Blubber) Entangled in Flaw Ice, Endeavouring to Extricate themselves exhibited in 1846, oil on canvas.
 Rough Sea with Wreckage
 Ancient Rome: Agrippina Landing with the ashes of Germanicus (detail). c.1839. oil on canvas.
 Let's end our visit with two wonderful watercolours. Rain Clouds, around 1845, watercolour on paper. (above)
 and the gorgeous  Bedroom in the Palazzo Giustinian (the Hotel Europa, Venice), around 1840. watercolour on paper. This is a perfect selection of Turner's late paintings. The watercolours would have made a fab show on their own. The vast collection of Turners at the Tate London can be overkill, this whets the appetite perfectly.
 Back on the street, John and I headed down Sullivan to admire artist, Charlie Pachter's home. I think the mix of old architecture with this modern look works very well. 
 Maybe that's what's inspired some other new building. This one at the corner of Sullivan and Huron.
 i liked this view of OCAD down an alley between Sullivan and Grange.
 The east corner of Grange and Huron. I have lots of memories from the late 60s, early 70s here.
A quick hop west across Spadina Avenue and we were headed down to Queen Street West and our regular route home.