…At The Grindstones

Walked by this statue today .. twice. I wanted to snap a quick shot of it the first time but of all things the bench next to it was full of women chatting.. reminded me of a few tunes….

The most recent of which being by a fantastic artist fave of mine Janelle Monae:

The Classic of the trio being from Music Man:

[Youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbhnRuJBHLs%5D

And considered a modern classic, with Missy Elliot:

[Youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBkCEbc42eU%5D

“Hard to the core.. core to the right…”


{April 30, 2010}   Old Montreal

Today I wandered around Old Montreal for the first time in a long time. My friend and I had decided to visit several museums but the weather was far far too nice to go inside for too long at any particular spot.. Here is some of the interesting architecture and odds and ends that I saw, part one 🙂 I may not know what everything is but I appreciated everything that I saw today. The bells were ringing loud as I arrived here- unfortunately there was so much construction it was difficult to get to or appreciate this part of the area.

This is heading up to the Science Museum- if it rains this weekend I’ll end up there but I’ll probably end up seeing it next time I am in town…

^^ Tents in the distance, that no one could tell me what they were..

…and a funky sculpture in front of the museum…

An interesting housing project, so I was told- I love how it looks…

A fun sculpture…

Waterfront picnics in the neat park areas..

A fun castle-style picnic area that reminds me of a Martello Tower

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martello_tower ) Specifically the one in Halifax, Nova Scotia

People reading hidden away between touristy buildings..

I love the staircases here..

Typical street in Old Montreal

Stopped for lunch here, a BLT, Poutine (I had to) and a Mojito..

Mood music of the harmonica, turned down getting my portrait done for now.. enjoyed the sun.

My main view from the lunch table was of this heart sculpture, which reminded me of

another “heart-work” in San Fransisco….This building is under construction, with the weirdest custom painted drapery over almost all of it- including one painted to look like a bell tower…

A closer look so you can see the real and “will be restored” sections..

Getting the fountain ready for tourist season… very strong smelling paint..

Walkin the dog in a bit of history.. as opposed to …

A fun doorway I walked by..

And another one. Not sure why I have this fascination with older looking houses painted colorfully but I have some theories..one based on the classic Sesame Street steps, the other having to do with a man in my hometown who painted a few houses terrible bright clashing colors to try to get the permission he was denied to tear them down and build condos. I’m not sure if that ever happened but I remember seeing them as a child every day and appreciating them though wondering how they could get away with doing that.. since most houses on my street were white or grey and that’s as good as it got. The whole- well why can’t we have a multicolored house? Well, 10 years late I got new neighbours who got everything they wanted, including a door painted Barney purple. I was glad that it wasn’t my house then…but that’s another story…

Time to get back out in this lovely weather,


{April 29, 2010}   Hot and Sour Comfort Food..

I have a tendency to get addicted to things very easily, and I crave them quite often. I go through periods of time where I crave and seek out one kind of food- often something that I’ve found completely disgusting in the past. For example, I used to absolutely hate tomatoes, and now I can just pop the little ones in my mouth and savor them like it’s chocolate. Over the last few years I’ve developed a need for Chinese Hot and Sour soup (thanks Dad! I used to watch him eat it when we went out and thought it was totally repulsive, and now I praise it for it’s mix of textures and flavors). Chinese food, to North Americans can be somewhat of a leap- “we” generally have this problem with food texture that we can’t get over- slippery, chewy, chicken-footy…

Actually I just read an amazing book about food in China called Sharks’ Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A  Sweet-sour Memoir of Eating in China– which taught me a lot about what makes what a delicacy, and food trends in China right now, the resurfacing of street food and feasting…  but I’ll save that for another entry..

The mix of textures and ingredients in this soup make it a joy to eat. It can’t be chomped down in one big bite, it doesn’t have one solid flavor, and you can see what you are eating. It’s got some zing to it though so if you can’t handle spicy, go easy on it. The good thing about this kind of spicy is water or tea takes it out of your mouth or throat. It doesn’t burn away your taste buds- it just kicks them a little and you can still enjoy the bouquet of flavors within.

Apparently this soup is thinner in Asia, and the thick jelly that holds it all together in North America is a recent twist on it from added cornstarch. It’s reddish-brownish colour is traditionally from heated porks blood, but I think a lot of it now comes from the chili paste in it, or the red chili oil that is often added on top before serving.

The ingredients are mainly, soft tofu, roast pork, bamboo shoots, black fungus..and often you’ll find egg (i’ve heard this varies between regions) and day lily buds, or enoki/button mushrooms, bean sprouts, grated carrots, and I’ve seen colored TVP instead of pork in the vegetarian versions. The flavoring comes from sesame oil, vinegar, chili paste, white pepper, dark soy sauce, cooking wine, sugar, ginger and more..sometimes some people use chicken soup stock as well.

Some soup from my favorite soups stop right now..

Here’s a video of some of the spices that go into Hot and Sour soup from ExpertVillage on Youtube:

And a little instruction on how to make it:

Of course this means that there is a video coming of me attempting to prepare this at home! I go out enough to get it, it’s about time I gave it a whirl myself.

Another afternoon’s soup:

Okay now I’m hungry.


“Oh I meant to tell you. I was standing on my head the other day and I got to thinking how probably unusual it is for someone of my age to do this. I can go right up and I can stay for a count of three or four minutes. My head is in my clasped hands and my elbows are what balance me. I have discovered that I am really almost standing on my forehead.

Then I begin to think what in the world started me standing on my head….”

-Katharine Hepburn. Age 80-something. Me (Page 25).

I’ve just begun to read Katharine Hepburn’s book, Me. It’s somewhat of an autobiography but as she mentions in the prologue that it doesn’t follow a set path or pattern or even timeline. It does jump around. But it’s energetic and fun and quite interesting, written in her own words and I can almost hear her reading it to me as I follow along- it has her energy. It’s not a long book, I will most likely finish it up in the next few days, and I’ll have a few other tidbits to post along with it.

One of my favorite films with Kate is hands down, Bringing Up Baby.

If you’ve never seen it, it’s quite fantastic, here’s one of the trailers:

Not sure how much I want to give away, but so far I’ve learned about the amazing things that her parents were involved with (her mother fighting for women’s rights and both parents for awareness of venereal disease when everyone else was in denial of it, her basket of naked photos, her “first time”, and the way her parents brought up their family to be relatively fearless in making an entrance or doing something otherwise thought of as crazy- driving underage, swinging on a trapeze in their own yard, climbing the tallest trees…

More on this soon,


{April 28, 2010}   Window Pirate

Spring has finally spring- maybe only in a few places, we’ve had some chilly days but I have been able to get out and about to a few of my favorite “urban parks” to see the progress. Not all of my favorite fountains are up and running sadly but hopefully this coming month I’ll see them going. This is near the major Farmers Market downtown.. and by the weekends in May- it will be loaded with musicians and families, shops/stalls and people enjoying all the pastries and amazing things that they will only come out for in the summer.. that really mean summer to them. It’s nice to see- lifts the moods of the people in general- which in a big city is generally needed….

I absolutely love this piece of art- high up on a building over a plaza with three of my favorite fountains (not up and running yet).. that a lot of people probably pass by every day. Of course I think of Egyptian symbolism with this one but not anything specific off the top of my head that you’d see there…)
The same plaza also has a section with what seems like a glass maze- textured amazing glass somewhat blocking the busy street on the other side of them… which from a distance just looks like a blockade of sorts that you cant get past …

In the same plaza I really love these pennants…

The Toronto “Thimble” 🙂

A Tree next to the thimble in this awesome rounded “planter” …

Another bubbly planter with one tree and thankfully minimal garbage in it..

A punched out star on the side of a portable hot iron for making hot pastries in China Town..

Similar to a waffle iron…

An ancient-looking doorway south of the thimble…

A sign in a window.. 🙂

A fun colored roof combo

The Classic Window Sneaker…on the ledge outside a hostel..

The classic window pirate in what I believe was a window of the hostel…

Just a few neat things I saw on my way last week 🙂


{April 26, 2010}   JU P

I went for a little walk with my new camera on a very very windy night and snapped a few pics of some fantastic art or neat structures along my way. I found a free-standing lemonade stand in an otherwise deserted park and a few other things that  I will be revisiting for video very soon, a rare instance where I just wasn’t thirsty- but I believe good lemonade is hard to come by so I’ll be back..

The planters are now filled with tulips and daffodils..and more, everywhere downtown.

It’s about time!

A really odd alley I had never seen before, I’d love to come back with a really good camera since it looked like a painting or something out of a movie..

By the Lemonade Stand I saw this ever burning torch.. hoping to go back in the day and clean out the garbage from around the memorial…

I love this sculpture- puzzle-chair – it’s a fairly unvisited spot, and somewhat quiet, tucked away in the financial district.. still has Christmas decorations near it though…

In another plaza nearby I love this archway or fallen building look facing the plaza, it reminds me of a giant jack a la the game Jacks, or something aerospace related..

I think these windows and this set up are too beautiful to be deserted at night, or to be so out of the way that people don’t get to enjoy them!

And likewise this, which is fairly close by… reminds me of the ferry terminal in my hometown..

I thought these square windows were pretty neat- high up in an alleyway..

But one of my favorite sights of the evening was JUP:

I’d like to think that it’s meant to be inspirational in some way , and I was indeed out on the lookout for inspiration of some sort… and was trying to figure out how to interpret it which at the same time laughing out loud by myself in somewhat of a shifty area. I’m not sure what the sign is actually for just yet but I’ll take it as a Carpe Diem type thing- where the person about to set forth has a few things in the way of running out and grabbing what they need- physical health, family situations etc.. so they do the best they can with the resources they are given. How often are we all really 100% and able to just run and do something anyway.. are we setting the bar too high for ourselves? How much do we have to achieve to feel proud of ourselves these days?

Got me wondering….


{April 26, 2010}   What are you Waiting For?

“In this life, although we are not

endowed with knowledge,

Wealth and distinction, success and fame,

are not won by exhertion.

It is vain to take riches and silk

as one’s foundation;

How can human effort hope to contend

with the decree of fate?

The customs of age, heat and cold,

vainly beguile the eye;

Worldly cares, separation and reunion,

are better quite forgotten.

The superior man proceeds or halts

as he is used or discarded,

If you do not unknit your brow and laugh,

what are you waiting for?”

-From Chin P’ing Mei, Volume 2, Chapter 33 aka When Ching-Chi Loses his Keys and is Distrained to Sing.. Dated to the Ming Dynasty, Chinese (1368-1644 CE).


It took me back to a clip from The Muppet Show on the Alice Cooper episode, where you find yourself in a cave with “teeth” each complaining about toothache, which then zooms into their teeth complaining that their teeth hurt (or maybe it was the other way around).. so of course I spent the second half of brunch silently and then not so silently saying:

“I’ve never known a toothache this bad before…
It’s like having toothache all over my body ..
And another thing…
I keep hearing voices…
And what’s worse…
The echo is often incorrect..
And sometimes.. it says what I’m going to say before I’ve said it…
Yep well..
None of this is helping my toothache…”

It was such a fun sketch.. you can check part of it out here  (skip to 8:20)

Funny how this is is the last thing I thought of the last time I actually had a terrible toothache.. one like I had never known before… and another thing…


{April 25, 2010}   Bus Shelter

Today I took the long way home, strolling through empty business plazas and in and around ..The pre-party Saturday night quiet and the remaining heat from the day was more than welcome after the hustle and bustle of the morning.

Along the way I passed a well-lit bus/streetcar shelter in which an older gentleman was rolled up comfy in a sleeping bag, settled in for the night. Generally in the city you will find people camp out early over subway grates to soak up the heat as they  drift off to sleep.

What struck me about this is that he was not only in the most comfortable looking roll of blankets that I’ve seen in a while, but he was propped up on an elbow reading a novel… that he had chosen the lit up bus shelter to get some good reads in before calling it a night.

Which reminds me of a time, probably 7 or 8 years ago when I was working at a mall, and had made the long long trek to the public washroom because we didn’t have any for some reason, or perhaps it was when I was working a “mall stall”…but that is beside the point. I was in this washroom, in this mall walking distance from nowhere, when a woman came in as I was brushing my teeth and washing up and delighted in the fact that the hot water tap did indeed work there (not sure if you are aware of this but many places only have the cold option).. to which she remarked

“The water is so good and hot here..”

Looking up at myself and another clerk at the sinks with the most amazing look- like she was drinking in the heat and energizing herself with it..absorbed in that moment of pure gratitude and wanting to share it with us. To this day I play her words over in my mind EVERY time I was my hands at a public washroom, and think of her smile..

Things like that, really make me thankful for the things that I have. The things that are always available to me because of the country that I live in, the things that I one had and enjoyed, the things that I work hard to always have..and how I always try to make the best of a bad situation and see the good in things.. and people.. sometimes I can be overwhelmed like everyone.. but it really is those little things that fill us with delight that mean the most.. that warm our hearts or bodies or make us think.. or make us work..or that are always there for free…

..and one of the things that has fascinated me for as long as I can remember, and has been an obsession of mine for the last 10 or so years has been this common human experience at delighting in the simple, at nature, gifts we are given etc etc- that exists spanning through all cutures and all peoples.. and the connections that we  can find with each other because of that human experience- not just the joy, but every emotion and wonder that we have, as well as the confusion and darkness and how we cope with our lives at that moment and LIVE.. as opposed to live.

I’m looking forward to curling up with a good book in a little while myself……


et cetera