Category Archives: Events

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)


What a ride!

(Written the weekend after Labour Day but held back for video and images – and then we didn’t have time to sort these whilst concentrating on Paul’s parents’ visit – much more important!)

The last three weekends have overwhelmed us with their rich texture of experiences!

An encounter with Charlie, the Black Crowned Night Heron at Toronto Harbour (a great urban legend) on my way to Japanese Taiko drumming at the Toronto’s Music Garden; the incredible physicality of the drumming blew me away.

Then, on Friday with dear friends Steve and Paul,a last minute decision to take in  Buskerfest; beat-box, contortions, giant ants, music – another great Toronto street party.

Swimming at seven pm on Saturday evening after shopping and chores –  Lake Ontario is always bracing, but so beautiful to swim off a glorious beach as the sun sinks.

Then, on Sunday, brunch at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (home of the Toronto International Filmtection – Festival) before heading for Toronto Islands to try out our new hi-tech Frisbees (driver, mid-range and putter each) on the 18 hole course. Next time I will wear long sleeves and trousers for probeing very much beginners, much of our time was spent scrabbling in the bushes searching for our stray shots (hoping not to encounter poison ivy!). On the plus side, by the end of the course, we had gained two Frisbees.

Last Friday we headed north out of the city for our home from home in the Blue Mountains (a chalet owned by my ski instructor, Richard, for whom we have been doing some web consulting, creating a new website for his company, Eagle Adventures).  On Saturday evening were behind the scenes at Georgian Downs racetrack, watching a friend, Sabina,  take blood samples from a selection of the horses before climbing into the starter car for a unique view of harness (buggy) racing.

Wreck of the Mary Ward in Georgian BaySunday’s adventure was a trip on a Zodiac four kilometres out into Georgian Bay to the wreck of the Mary Ward – sadly a storm was brewing and we couldn’t snorkel as planned, but it was certainly a great taster for a future expedition. With the simple but effective tool of a glass bottomed washing-up bowl, we were still able to get a great view of the wreck.

On Monday (Labour Day) we had a lazy paddle down the Nottawasaga  river, trying out what will shortly be our own Kayaks.

This weekend the focus has been a BBQ, trying out the versatility of our Big Green Egg (everything from the cornbread, to pizza and steak) for Paul’s 50th birthday.  How amazing to be able to sit outside in shorts, with not even a cardigan, until nearly 2am (OK, we do have a patio heater)! We felt blessed in so many ways, but particularly by the beginnings of a shared sense of ‘history’ with our closest friends, something that is a potential casualty of uprooting midlife.

I can’t remember another time in my life quite like this, filled to the brim with such a range of unique experiences, some exhilarating, some poignant, many of which just seem to find us! It truly is an amazing ride . . .

Passionate aging.

(CARP Conference 2)

Passion is a word I hear often in Canada. It was genuinely awe inspiring to feel an un-abating  wave of passion from speakers in their 60s and 70s as they talked about their lives and work.
Tod Machover
Image via Wikipedia
Tod Machover projects the energy of a much younger man. ‘Wired composer’ that he is, his most recent opera, Death and the Powers, addresses issues of mortality amid an animated stage, musical chandelier and a chorus of robots.
He has also made the composition and scoring of music accessible as never before  with his Hyperscore, encouraging a deeply creative and exciting relationship with music. Seeing a young man, Dan Ellesy, who is profoundly affected by cerebral palsy, performing his own music on stage using this software moved me to tears. (I would urge you to catch this performance as part of a TED Talk by Tod Machover – it is at around 13 minutes into the talk, all of which is fascinating!)
This links into another area of Tod’s work, Music, Mind and Health, a project in partnership with MIT that is exploring and developing musical activities to measure and respond to a variety of medical conditions and enhance lifelong mental and physical acuity.
Similarly, Charles Pachter, one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists, seems possessed of a youthful irreverence and zest. The whole audience sat enthralled as he significantly over-ran his time slot with a presentation of his life (so far) in images. Many of his paintings are dominated by the moose, the queen of the north, which in childhood became inter-twined with the confusing existence of a Queen with dominion over Canada but who does not live here. Nearing 70, this witty, challenging man shows no signs of renouncing this strand of irreverence or of stopping questioning the social order.
I have, as yet, little knowledge of Canadian actors – we do not watch much television and have as yet to fully embrace the wonderfully rich theatre culture here. If Eric Peterson’s virtuoso performance as Crankius Farticus (his own term for himself) is anything to go by, we have much to look forward to! I was snorting with laughter at his pitch of a TV series based around a Zoomer superhero. (For those who don’t know, a Zoomer is a ‘Boomer with zip’, a term that people seem either to love or loathe!)
William Friedman offered a rather different awareness. This intelligent, thoughtful lawyer found the need in his fifties to reshape aspects of his life. Perhaps surprisingly, this took the form of competitive bodybuilding and led to his son Bryan’s film, The Bodybuilder and I (Best Canadian Feature Documentary 2007). The transformation of his body (and, believe me, there are few men of 60 plus who can boast abs like his!) seems also to have re-shaped his relationships and sense of himself . The film was at one stage described to him as being about how much his son hated him –  and has led to the odd  inappropriate smile from a judge unable to banish the image of the bodybuilder in posing pouch. I have to admit to some difficulty reconciling the reflective speaker with the polished poser, yet the fundamental message of continuing to embrace life and self-exploration with passion and in whatever way is right for you was inescapably positive and valid.