Tag Archives: culture

The beginning of a journey . . .

I am creating this space as part of my journey of discovery of my new home-land.

It is a place to honour and find inspiration in traditions and ways of being not part of my personal history; to explore ideas, beliefs, stories and art forms.

It is also a place from which to bear witness to the deep, multi-generational pain wrought by the actions of those who came before me to this place and, instead of seeing native peoples with a rich indigenous culture, wisdom and a deep relationship to the land, saw only half-wild savages to be tamed and re-shaped to their own likeness.

I am no expert,  lay no special claim to knowledge or understanding. But I know it matters. So this is my space in which to investigate and record what interests me, what excites me, what saddens me, what resonates.

 

I believe strongly that the stories we tell about ourselves shape our lives profoundly. What happens when, instead of being told, those stories fall into a chasm of silence because this seems the only safe place for them in the context of the community? What happens when a culture with a strong oral tradition is forced into a forgetting of the words, of the cadence as well as the wisdom of its storytelling? What happens when established ways of dealing with  difficult experiences are derided or forgotten? How does the pain of the unspoken shape the lives of individuals and of a people?

And what happens when a dominant culture also adopts a code of silence? When at least a part of the message of apology seems to have a subtext; “those were different people, different times – I’m not like that”? What that we are doing now will that dominant culture be ‘apologizing’ for in 50 or 100 years?

 

It gladdens my heart that Canada has a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is a beginning. Some of the stories are being told and being heard. Learning about this work is an important part of my search for a deeper understanding.

Nuit Blanche 2013

I seem often to hear people questioning the attraction of  Nuit Blanche.

For me there are two main strands.

One is a kind of sensory re-awakening. Each year there are many weird and wonderful happenings and just one or two pieces that really engage me at a deeper level, staying with me. But the overall impact heightens my experience of the everyday – leaves in water, light and shadow penetrating our home courtesy of a street light as we open the front door to a darkened room. It reminds me to see, to hear, to notice.

The other is the incredible openness of the crowd – a glorious diversity united in an ability to connect with childlike delight.

(You can see bigger versions of the photos in our gallery)

Birthday Shoes!

Happy birthday Paul!

A joyous start to the day; meeting our lovely daughter Jess on Skype for a tour of her new home.

Toronto Harbour Toronto Harbour Birthday lunch Birthday lunch Toronto Harbour Toronto Harbour

Blue, blues skies and clear golden light – a perfect day for the lunch cruise that was part of a charity auction package we bought at the recent BuskerFest Ball.

Gina Gina Gina & Paul Gina & Paul Gina Gina

We were reminded how lovely our city is when viewed from the water (as is so much of Ontario); the CN tower‘s inescapably commanding presence; the relaxed greenness of Toronto islands; the exuberant to-ing and fro-ing of every kind of water-craft, revelling in this patchy summer’s last hurrah.

Rogers Centre and Kayaks Rogers Centre and Kayaks CN & Rogers Centre CN & Rogers Centre A day to be out on the water A day to be out on the water

Toronto from across the Islands Toronto from across the Islands

Gardiner Museum Gardiner Museum - personal favourites. 'Playa' by Steven Heinemann. Gardiner Museum Gardiner Museum - personal favourites Gardiner Museum Gardiner Museum - personal favourites

We got our culture fix from a couple of hours at the Gardiner, Canada’s national ceramics museum – so much to delight us! If we had to pick one piece, I think it would be a huge modern bowl called ‘Playa’ by Steven Heinemann, its interior like a parched surface on which is superimposed a giant fingerprint.

Gina in conversation Gina in conversation A birthday kiss! A birthday kiss!As always in Toronto, there were unexpected pleasures – a quiet conversation with a studious statue; a birthday kiss; a swathe of skateboarders swarming down University Avenue to a meetup in Queen’s Park.

Finally, a detour to the Distillery District to buy birthday shoes.

Birthday shoes! Birthday shoes!

 

And, at home, cake (of course)!

Paul with cake Paul with cake

(There are more photos from Paul’s birthday in our gallery)

 

The perfect day–Christmas starts here!

Yesterday was one of those glorious days that nourish you to the core. Our first snowfall – really just a long flurry of motes mixed with the occasional feather dusting the ground – then blue skies; The AGO – Henry Moore (early works, full of the anguish of his response to his war-time experiences) and the Maharajas (fabulous, especially the Rolls Royce and the tabla player and Kathac dancer; too many pancakes (crepes) with delectable fillings (we ate the sweet followed by the savoury!); then on to Nathan Phillips Square for our first skate of the season, this year’s sole Cavalcade of Lights (the square is being refurbished) to launch the Christmas season, with live music, the lighting of the tree and some of the best fireworks I’ve ever seen – City Hall is a fabulous backdrop, the window reflections augmenting the show.

This was also the occasion of our first skate in Canada last year and looks set to be an enduring tradition – I felt the total pleasure and wonder of a six year old for much of the day – what a great start to Christmas!

Recent highlights and milestones

What a wonderful roller-coaster ride! New experiences come thick and fast and I often don’t get around to blogging – the living is more important! So hear is a summary of recent  highlights:

  • Nuit Blanche – an amazing Toronto-wide all-night street party based around weird and wonderful happenings (see my other blog, Passage to Joy, for our impressions).
Nuit Blanche - Smile
Nuit Blanche - Smile
  • Our first Thanksgiving – we were very busy working on our garden and deck, but still managed to celebrate with a walk amidst the fall foliage (very much part of the custom here) and the traditional turkey (sweet potatoes with maple syrup, topped with candied pecans will definitely be adopted for future years), followed by pumpkin pie (we prefer butter tarts, another Canadian sweet treat). In Canada, Thanksgiving is earlier than in the US (beginning of October) and relates very closely to harvest festival.

Back garden Landscaping - the framework for a back garden for next year Back garden Landscaping - the framework for a back garden for next year - Paul did a fantastic job with the deck and arbor entrance way!

  • Our ‘Canniversary’ – one whole year in Canada (and only two more before we can apply to become citizens). We celebrated with a party for over 30 of our friends. Even though it was October, we were able to sit outside on our newly completed deck and begin to have a sense of our back yard as the garden it will become.
  • Halloween Canadian style – although we were here last year, we were still in B&B accommodation and didn’t really experience Halloween. Ours is a young neighbourhood, so it swarmed with small and not so small people in strange costumes, not all of them scary (a football field stands out!).  We hung out with our neighbours at the front of our house, enjoying the spectacle and dispensing candy (ours ran out way too soon – we’ll know better next year, though one young friend spent $120 and still didn’t have enough!). Joining in the spirit, Paul fashioned an expert Jack O’Lantern whilst I delved into the traditions of Samhain to create an incarnation of the blue faced crone for our door.

Blue-faced Crone Halloween 2010 - based on Samhain traditions, I created the mask to represent one manifestation of the crone connected to cutting away those things you no longer need. Blue-faced Crone Halloween 2010 - based on Samhain traditions, I created the mask to represent one manifestation of the crone connected to cutting away those things you no longer need. Jack O'Lantern Halloween 2010 - Jack O'Lantern

  • CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) Conference & Zoomer Show – I volunteered for both of these as a way of developing links within the field of re-visioning aging (Paul joined me at the Zoomer Show). I was given the key role of presenter liaison at the Conference and a similar role on the activity stage at the conference (I will be writing these up shortly!). The events are produced by the same organization as IdeaCity and the conference in particular was similarly inspirational.
  • This week, our first frosts of this winter; the grey-green of the grass lit up by the blaze of fall trees in the hazy morning glow took my breath away!

Coming soon . . .

  • Winter – in an El Nino year, rumor has it that we may be in for a particularly cold and snowy winter. The first flurries are expected in Toronto tonight. We are very glad we had arranged for our snow-tires to go onto our car this week and are looking forward to getting our skates on . . . ! I wonder how we will feel by April?