Friday, October 30, 2015

Man sock update

Well, look at this!

A sock that's nearly ready for its toe!  Yep, I got my cousin's husband's sock so far along that when Pete did a test trial I found I was ready to change colours again and start the decreases.

Before I did, though, I thought I might stop to admire how beautiful the stitches looked.  You know, bask in the glory of my accomplishments.  And that's when I saw it.

A funny little stitch that looked wrong, and proved to be a big mistake - one extra stitch added to the mix at the top of the gusset and carried all the way along the foot.  I considered ignoring it and discreetly reducing by one stitch before I went further, but these are DK weight socks, with far fewers stitches per inch than fingering-weight socks, and it's not unlikely he would feel the difference when he's wearing the pair.  So I decided to rip back just as far as I had to for the added stitch. 

Then, when I was slipping the needles back through the live stitches, 16 to a needle, I found one extra.  Another extra!


But it was true.  I must have picked up one extra stitch on that side, for the gusset.  That meant ripping all the way back to the place where I'd picked up the stitches for the heel gusset.

Officially back to the drawing board, folks.  And no idea when I will be able to finish these socks.  Good thing I love knitting with this yarn, isn't it?

And just to complicate things ever so slightly, while we were having lunch together last week I decided I should knit my friend Wayson a pair of socks this winter.  I've made him a scarf, I've made him fingerless gloves, and I made him a cowl, too, but never socks.  So as soon as I've finished these ones... I'm casting some on for him.  And also some mohair ones for Julia because something seems to be melting my selfish knitter's heart...

Either that, or I'm finally realizing I don't have space for all the yarn I have here, even in knit form?  Yeah, gotta be that.

In the meantime, hope your knitting is going more smoothly than mine!  And that you have a wonderful weekend, Hallowe'eny or not.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My love affair with baby bok choy

The weirdest thing has been happening to me this fall: instead of my usual perusal of the chocolate offerings in the candy aisle of the grocery store, I'm hunting down vegetables.

Seriously, what alien life form wormed its way into my sleeping brain?

Okay, I am all about the sugar, but every so often sugar and I break up and I get virtuous.  Here is what I learn every time this happens: if you eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, and zero daily processed sugar, you will suffer horribly for about two days and then feel pretty great with no interest in sugar thereafter.

Also, when you go briefly on autopilot and start cramming cookies into your mouth, you will quickly notice how much your body did not like them and recognize that sugar, however much it pretends to love you, really doesn't.  At all.

Then the next big holiday comes along - something so invested in candy-based festivities that it's buried deep in your psyche as impossible to celebrate without sugar - and you weaken, and after a while of that you think 'well, I don't feel that terrible, and also, post-holiday chocolate is now half-price and it would be fiscally irresponsible not to stock up', and the next thing you know, you and sugar are inseparable again.

When I was in my 20s and learning how to be a bill-paying, gainfully employed adult, it was totally logical for me to have ice cream for breakfast.  I still remember that gleeful feeling of knowing that there were no parents on hand to be horrified.  And honestly: how many kids started those same days with big-time sugar in their frosted cereals?  Not to mention that ice cream is literally full of dairy - good for your bones and so on.

But I am not 25 any more, however much I still feel like I am, and I'm not even having to make a conscious effort to break up this time.  I literally got obsessed with finding baby bok choy, and started stalking grocery stores to find it because for some reason nobody was stocking any when the fever struck.

During my hunt, I found myself staring at a package of pre-washed, pre-sliced organic cremini mushrooms.  I remembered another day years ago when I was similarly struck by the same thing - I was in the midst of what I hope will continue to stand tall as the most stressful time in my life, and I bought ready-to-eat mushrooms and ate them all the way home from the grocery store, raw from the package as I walked.  Well, as soon as I remembered how great they were that day, I bought these ones too.  I waited till I was at my destination to plunge in, but the package was empty by lunchtime.

Gee, I thought when I realized I was down to zero mushroom slices, wouldn't it be nice if these things had some nutritional value?  Because I was pretty sure they don't.  Guess what?  I was wrong!  Among other things, they are great for boosting your immune system.  And boy, do I need help with that.  Thanks to having stumbled onto The World's Healthiest, I also know that baby bok choy works as an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. 

Since I finally found a supply of locally-grown baby bok choy I notice I'm eating a ton of healthy things.  Even the so-called 'bad' things - pie and lemon blueberry loaf - are coming from the same bakery vendor at the farmer's market who puts next to no sugar into her baked goods.  And yet: still delicious.

Apple pie this time.  Can't wait to see what's in the next round of pies!

I would hold it out as a further example of my personal crisis that I was incredibly excited to see russet apples at the market this past weekend, but I'm always incredibly excited to see russet apples for sale. They are the ugliest apples and the most delicious ones too, and they're only available for a few weeks every fall.

And how is all this impacting me?  I'm going to assume you're interested, so play along if you're not, won't you?

Well, my fingernails are looking really good.  No white spots, minimal breakage.  I am pretty sure I don't actually have less grey hair than I did because that's not possible is it?  but whatever is in there just looks like highlights all of a sudden. I have definitely lost weight.  And even though I'm still tired a lot - there is a lot going on after all - I am sleeping at night, no problem.

It's such a cliche that girls fall for the 'bad' partner instead of the upstanding, solid, but dull option, and when it comes to sugar, I am so that cliche.  But I really hope that this time I can keep the love alive with the comfort-food partner who's good to me - even though Halloween is imminent and after that, the drawn out Christmas season, aka land of festive baking and endless parties.

Or, worst case, that I figure out a way to have both.  A girl can dream, right?

Cabbage roses have nothing on bok choy ends, *happy sigh*

What's your favourite healthy food?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Not movie knitting

I have been looking forward to tonight for SO LONG.  Lookit!  Sock and a popcorn bucket!

Probably this looks like movie knitting but it is not at all movie knitting.  It is...

Empty stage with exciting lighting colours

Show knitting.  Welcome to Night Vale live show knitting! 

Maybe you listen religiously to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast.  Maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about, and it doesn't matter. You could have come out to this show and still enjoyed yourself enormously.  Like Pete, who has just been nodding and smiling blankly every time I mentioned wishing I could see a live show, and who ended up loving it.  Given that I spent all my hours of unpacking listening to the fictional community radio station broadcasts that make up each biweekly podcast though, I not only enjoyed myself; I was so happy to put faces (indeed, full bodies) to some of the voices. 

Every episode of Night Vale features a musical artist, and for the show, the artist was Eliza Rickman.  Pete is pretty sure that she opened with 'Fools Rush In' (there's a sample at this link, if you click on #6 under her new release, Footnotes For The Spring).  Whichever one it was, it took her about zero seconds to completely enrapture the crowd.  Apparently she was recovering from a cold.  I should be so lucky to have a cold that still allowed me to sound like that - she has an incredibly clear voice with an incredible range and, well, it was just wow generally. 

You should totally check out any of the songs at that link and see whether you love her music too.

Anyway I had a fabulous time, and so did my sock.  I wonder whether I'll remember that this was the sock I took with me to Night Vale?  No matter, I will definitely remember how much fun I had every time I wear the T shirt I bought.  Which I think I will go and try on right now, right after I type one more sentence...

Have you been anywhere out of the ordinary lately?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Friday night knitting

Last Friday night, Trish called to let me know that a knit night was happening in the Distillery District. In the really amazing shoe store.  Catered by the really amazing bakery.  With giveaways and limited-edition yarn for sale. And it was just about to start.

We both had other plans, but for five wonderful minutes we talked over how we could make it happen - ditching those other commitments and the people (in Trish's case, real live ones) who expected us to be around for them, Trish driving downtown and parking in the lot under my building, the two of us walking alongside the probably very darkened park for the 15 minutes it would take to get there... you know.  The usual.  Then we said goodnight and I went back to what I'd lined up.

Yep, sock finishing!

You don't even want to know how long it took me to clear off this sofa, aka 'clean laundry station' and 'discarded wardrobe ideas depot'.  I considered it a point of virtue to put in the time required to do it, kind of like I would be earning back the right to sit and run in ends if I did it.

Key to this whole process was setting up a DVD of 'Middlemarch'.  I don't love this production, and in fact feel quite annoyed at all the people in the story who make stupid marriages, but hello: COSTUME DRAMA.

Here's the thing.  Condo living has been a refreshing change from being in a house, but I have been getting alarmed by the complete disconnect from my old routines, many of which revolved around maximum knitting time.  And maybe an hour a day just for writing Hugs.  There are so many distractions downtown!  I can't remember the last time I sat down with a good costume drama and a project.

I'll tell you another thing, too.  There is a direct connection between how interested I am in the audiobook queued up in my Audible app and how tidy my kitchen looks.  Last week the snowdrift-like crest of mail, magazines, discarded sweaters, and completed shopping lists on the kitchen table and the desk I keep in there was equaled only by a three-day accumulation of pots and lunch thermoses on the counter.

So on Friday, between bouts of laundry-folding, I invested some time at Amazon and Audible and set myself up with a few audiobooks (Garry Marshall's My Happy Days in Hollywood, Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number, and David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed In Flames) as well as some e-books because I was out of those too.  Result?  By midafternoon on Saturday, I had an incredibly clean kitchen, and a full day's worth of laundry done all the way from machine to closet.  Thank you live story-telling.

But back to my Friday night:

Thank goodness. Two and a half socks down, one and a half to go.  Not thinking about the ton of Vesper toes to close up, all clustered optimistically in a basket on the floor beside the sofa.

Saturday night, I managed to get a lot closer to finishing sock number three.

Good thing Middlemarch runs a few hours, isn't it?  I really need to find a different way to manage stripes, like running in ends as I go, or not doing stripes at all.  On the other hand, they are SO PRETTY, even when inside out.

I know I say this every time, but I think the purl side of a knit, especially with a colour-flecked yarn like this, is so much more beautiful and soft than the knit side.

Oh well, better get back to it.  Or rather, back to all the stuff that keeps getting left undone, and creating a barrier between me and finishing all those otherwise finished socks.

TV, movies, audiobooks, softly rustling leaves... what's your favourite accompaniment to running in a lot of loose ends?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Creating your dream kitchen

A kitchen is such an amazing space when you think of it.  It's where we provide our own sustenance, and it's equipped with tools we use every day to prepare foods that keep us alive, comfort us, and entice friends and family to come together in one place.

Vintage kitchen decor: nothing says postwar like chalkware fruit

In the same way a plate can look like a million different things and just still be a portable slab that stands between its contents and the surface below, a kitchen can look like a million different places and still have a place to store food, to prepare food, and to heat food.  And then to wash the dishes, ugh.

I've been thinking for over a year now about what kind of kitchen would work in our reimagined house.  I mean, if you're starting from scratch, why not make it perfect?  But straight off, we had to make concessions to accommodate unchangeable things.  For example, we needed load-bearing walls to support the floor above.  I wanted a window over the sink, but along one wall, we wouldn't be allowed to add windows (it would have created a fire risk to the too-close house next door).  We didn't want to move the front door, and we didn't want our new kitchen to continue serving as the dumping ground for everybody coming in from outside, so our kitchen couldn't be in that corner of the house.  We didn't want to sit in the living room and look at dirty dishes, but at the same time, we didn't want the living room or kitchen to look cramped.

Most of all, Pete and I wanted to be able to work in the kitchen at the same time without constantly smashing into each other or having to wait for somebody to move on to their next task.  Super ugh.

So... when I come home with eggs and milk, I will have to carry them across the entire dwelling to the opposite corner from the front door to put them into the refrigerator.  We will in fact be looking at the cooktop from the living room, and I will have to get fancy with sightlines to conceal any pots piled up by the sink. I will have a window over said sink, but I will have to look up to see anything pretty, and the area won't be a sun patch.

But I can have other things, like vintage cabinet knobs discovered at an antique market.

And we can slip in a banquette.  A place to play cards at night or eat toast in the morning... and at the back of the side facing away from the living room, we can add a discreet divider that doesn't close off either space.  I have always loved banquettes, with the exception of the only one I ever lived with, in a 1970s sidesplit during my high school years.  It was upholstered with avocado green vinyl which, though extremely dated, was in excellent condition and therefore not a candidate for change (unlike the avocado green velvet brocade wallpaper in the living room, thank goodness.)  I'm thinking red outdoor fabric for this one.

I can have the freestanding cabinet style I love and can't currently find a picture of - the one that has base cabinets and a counter and upper cabinets all contained within side walls, without a cooktop or refrigerator to say Kitchen.  Sort of a built-in Hoosier, the portable self-contained kitchen prep cabinet I always swoon over, but I can make my freestanding cabinet do much of that job.

And I can have some vintage touches, like the chalkware shelves with their pretty chalk eyelet tops.  Or not, because they only cost $7 and I'm not entirely sure whether they will make the room look dated rather than whimsical.

There has been so much kitchen decision making going on lately.  I ended up reconfiguring the floating cabinet portion of the room - the one that was going to divide the kitchen from the living room - because once I was in the three dimensional space I realized it would cripple movement in both, on top of costing a fortune in millwork.

What to do instead?  L shape? Galley?  U-shape?  None of the above?

We are leaning toward the latter, with a long run of counter and then a second, shorter run set perpendicular to the first and a few feet away from it, facing the newly imagined banquette.  This worries me, deviating from accepted kitchen logic.  It would be an expensive mistake to fix if we get it horribly wrong.

And this on top of all the other decisions that have to be made, the first of which is cabinet colour.  Do we choose a stock colour or go custom?  Or go with a hybrid option - a custom colour another customer has already had the company mix up?

This is where my giant colour cards, ordered from Maria Killam, are paying off for me.

A giant box of paint samples
I had been leaning toward a white with a blue undertone to preserve my dream of Carrera marble somewhere in this place, but we would have to pay the custom mix fee for it.  Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace, a true cool white with no undertone, on the other hand, has been mixed already and I can have it at no extra charge.

Here's what the two look like, side by side:

Yes.  This is the person I have become.  (Chantilly Lace is on the right, by the way.)

I guess what I'm getting at is that as long as all things are possible, the journey between you and your dream kitchen is anything but dreamy.  Thankfully Andy, the designer from our cabinet supplier, is incredibly reassuring to work with.  And patient.  Very patient.

Let's look again at these kitchen knobs, shall we?

They were salvaged from a 1940s kitchen, just right for our 1942 house frame, and though they were partially cleaned they'll need a LOT more work to look as nice and new as the rest of the space will.  I don't mind though because I was able to get 18 of them, at $2 apiece, no tax.  Have you priced cabinet hardware lately?  Because MAN it is cheap to go vintage.  And they feel really nice in your hands.  Also, they match Chantilly Lace perfectly.  I just have to find a good metal handle to put on the lower cabinets that will look like it was always meant to go with the center post on these guys.

The bowl I just posed them in was another antique store find from years ago, by the way, and it's full of memories as well as kitchen stuff.  With much effort and calendar in hand I had talked Pete and Les into taking me to an antique mall I loved, and on the morning we were to leave I was recovering from a terrible cold but couldn't bear to cancel.  My motor skills were a mess and when I picked up this bowl which I didn't actually love but had an interesting lid - you know, from the days when leftover foods were stored in the refrigerator in oven proof materials with matching, loose lids - the lid dropped and broke.  Which meant I'd officially bought it.

As a reminder to use care in general and always value what falls into your lap, I have kept this bowl out in plain view ever since.  It's not my favourite shade of kitchen red (it's closer to tomato) and the inside is quite discoloured and crazed, but it's extremely useful and because it doesn't splay out at the sides as many others do it takes up little space on a windowsill or a shelf.

Also, it reminds me so much of fun times with Les in the years before he passed on.

I guess that's the best of a dream kitchen - if it really works, and it draws in everybody you care about, it will capture all your memories and hold them for you to enjoy every day.

What would be in your dream kitchen?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sock progression

My cousin-in-law's socks have been progressing a lot more quickly than my ability to sneak free time for writing about them:

I never get tired of looking at a lot of knit stitches all stacked up like this, do you?  It's so - orderly.  And peaceful.

The brown heel looks pretty good too, don't you think?  And it left a scarily small amount of remaining brown yarn...

brown yarn

sock requiring an infusion of brown yarn

... which nonetheless proved to be enough for a second heel...

... with a little yarn left over.


Now to make the blue stretch out over two adult-sized socks.

I truly love knitting with this yarn (as well as this colourway) - and it's discontinued.  Isn't that the pits?  And yet there are so many wonderful yarns in the world, it's probably good to have to reach out for some of the others.  Like maybe the ones in my freezer, just to throw out a random example.  Surely any moth eggs have to be dead by now?  And I really need to be able to use that space for food.

In non-sock news, I was on the bus today and saw a woman making yarn on her spindle!  I was going to tell her how gorgeous it was going to be, because of course there was no possible way for her to figure that out for herself, but then I noticed she was laughing at nothing in particular and also, that she was wearing earbuds.  So I sensibly concluded that she wouldn't be able to hear me anyway because she was obviously listening to something very funny. 

Girl after my own heart, except that I can't see myself spinning on the bus.  It's probably safer than knitting with five needles on the bus - a spindle is much easier to find if you drop it - but somehow it seems so much more complicated.

Did you see anything unexpected today?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A morning stroll

This past weekend we took the time to do something we've been talking about for at least ten years, and possibly for all twelve since it became a thing one could do: we strolled over to Toronto's Distillery District.

You might have to click on this to see the creepy giant red eye.

A brief history: in the early 1800s a mill opened in Toronto and sensibly added a distillery to take advantage of the plentiful grain being grown in the area.  The distillery was a huge success, go figure, and survived many a hardship (including fire and also Prohibition, which was shorter in Canada than in the U.S. but still... the business had to have taken a hit) for about 150 years.  After that, the site became incredibly popular as a movie set, and since 2003 it's been a pedestrian playground for art studios and galleries and a really interesting shoe store.

The Distillery District is one of those cool places you try to see as a tourist, but may not get to as an old married couple disinclined to go that far to meet friends for drinks and dinner.  At Christmastime there is a market I will totally visit this year while we are downtown, but haven't before, because I hear it's expensive, and you can't easily find parking there, and it's about a 25 minute walk from the nearest subway station so it's subway and streetcar instead, and Meh.  I can't be bothered.

This year, though - well, we are a 17 minute walk from it here at the condo.  And on our holiday Monday the weather was clear and sunny so going there was the Right Thing To Do.

We walked along The Esplanade, a street I've been down about a block of, which isn't far enough to find out that the little park on one side stretches all the way along, block after block, to the entrance of - you guessed it, The Distillery District.

There is a lot of brick in there, some of it integrated into new condominium buildings I immediately priced units in on our return home because Condo.

And also, a few old trucks.

Did I mention the brick?  Let's take a closer look.


Also outdoor art.  This is one of a pair of sort of ship's bows you can climb up onto if you're so inclined:

The other one is bigger, and needed this very attractive support to keep from tipping over.

Some of the buildings are made of stone, which is always appealing to me because I looooove rocks.  And symmetry.

Technically, I enjoyed our visit - it was a gorgeous day, and the setting is beautiful.  If I were wealthy and on vacation I would have bought artist-produced jewelry or pottery or clothes from one of the independent designers' shops.  If I was a real art hound I would have enjoyed lingering at the studios too, I'm sure.  If I hadn't been wearing boots that are still very hard to take off without my boot jack (I really hope they soften up some day) I might even have pined more productively for the gorgeous shoes in the shoe store.  It's in the low building on the right, below.

But sadly, I was just hungry.  There is a Greg's Ice Cream there - only the best ice cream ever - but it was closed that morning.  Also there is a coffee shop Pete likes because it's so cute, but it was once again sold out of croissants.  Seriously: every branch of this place we go into, it's sold out of croissants.  They are always on the menu, and never on the counter, and I am pretty sure I am going to start putting my foot down about going in there because Harumph.

You know what else is in the Distillery District, though?

Right at the end of one road, it turns out it has a really, really good bakery.

Twenty minute stroll, aromatic bakery with fabulous fresh bread and sandwiches and desserts.  Who cares if I can't afford anything else over there?  I would so be making that trade again.

Except that when I hunted up that link, I checked for other locations and Omigosh, there is a much nearer one across the corridor from the nice grocer's I visit nearly every day on my way back from the subway, and which I have actually tried out, and never returned to because the chocolate brioche I ordered was kind of mediocre.

Conclusion:  a pretty brickwork setting actually makes bread taste better!  (but also, chocolate in a brioche doesn't elevate the form as much as chocolate in a croissant does.  the plain brioche at this bakery is pretty fabulous.)

Did you discover anything new and exciting this week?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Man socks on the horizon

A while back my cousin's husband expressed an interest in warm handknit socks (this is how I interpret his absconding with the ones I knit her, and which miraculously stretched to fit him) so I decided to make him a pair.  We all know how that went, right?  I knit another pair for her instead and didn't finish his in time to send home with her when she left last weekend.  However, I have now cast on his socks.

I love, and I mean LOVE this colourway from Twisted Fiber Art.  It's called 'Dapper' and it's so perfect and familiar... brown suede and denim is what I think of the whole time I work with it.  I think he will love these socks, if I have enough yarn to finish them.

Because that's the problem here.  I only had this one sort of DK yarn on hand to make a comfy pair of socks for him, and I'd already used some of it for socks for somebody else.  So there's basically enough stripey left in two balls for two sock legs and not much more... hence the brown cuff.  I have to do two cuffs and two heels and probably two toes in brown, and get two feet out of this cake of blue.

Can I make this work?  I have no idea.  I normally knit DK socks with 56 stitches on the needle and that would probably be fine, but these are Man Socks, so I cast on 64.  And 8 extra stitches per round is bound to add up don't you think?

Oh well, stay tuned - I'm nothing if not persistent!

Hope you have a good day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, October 12, 2015

New socks, old socks

Two skeins of new Vesper arrived in my mailbox late last week:

Boardwalk Games on the left, Tomorrowland on the right

Very 'pop!' aren't they?  They will both feel incredibly cheering in February, if I can get them knit by then, which I might (if you insert 2017 for 2016.)

This has been a long weekend - it's Monday and I have been enjoying a quiet afternoon at home after a lovely walking outing this morning with Pete - and I had huge hopes for it as a peak time to catch up.  In fact Thanksgiving weekend is for me my last chance to get my space cleared up and my fall routines nailed down so I can run on autopilot.  Past experience has shown me that if I don't pull it off, I'm scrambling all the way to Christmas.

I haven't even come close, unfortunately.  I mean, I did make progress.  Among other imcomplete tasks I got out a bunch of the socks I started stress-knitting when I was supposed to be packing up the house, and assessed how much finishing needs to be done to get them into circulation for this fall to reduce laundry urgency.

But I didn't get any further than realizing that this is an odd number of socks.  No finishing whatsoever - I decided it would be enough to find the missing sock, and was relieved when I found this one in my purse.

Until I realized it doesn't actually match the single sock but starts a new pair for which I also don't have a mate handy.

(I'm sure the other two socks will turn up eventually. Sigh.)

I also tried on and washed and set aside some socks that I am sure now I knit a shoe size smaller than what I take. 

I have two friends willing to receive these gently used socks, and whose feet are smaller than mine, so it's good I think that I got these ready to pass along before the weather gets colder instead of finishing new socks for me.  Uncharacteristically selfless, but good. 

Probably though I was thinking of the space I'll save when they're gone, because I am ultimately nothing if not a selfish knitter.

So. Many. Socks.  And yet, socks are a thing I will wear daily and then must wash, and which bring me enormous comfort, and which are fun and portable to knit, and which make me feel cared for.  So maybe there really is no such thing as too many socks.

What can't you knit enough of?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A night out

For reasons I don't fully understand our schedule just keeps getting crazier and crazier. (it's probably the house but if I think too much about that it will be scary.  let's just call it Life.)  But when you get a notice in your mailbox advising you that many of the local streets will be closed for pedestrian traffic on Saturday night, well, you just gotta make time to get out and see what's happening!

Colourful textiles in Union Station
For ten years now, Toronto has had an all-night outdoor art event called Nuit Blanche.  I've never been, but I'd seen some pretty huge and amazing art installations too big to go in and out in one day that got put up early and left out for public viewing enjoyment for a while afterward.  Those installations gave me the impression the whole event was about magical transformations of public spaces, and I was really excited to go.


It turns out that no, Nuit Blanche is not always magical, with some totally unexpected thing emerging out of the darkness.  Some of the art required you to line up for twenty or so minutes.  One piece was so heavy on the flash lighting I was sure it would produce seizures for at least one person before dawn.  I don't think I'd rush out to do it again, and I may not get the chance either, because when I read the news the next morning I discovered that there has has been a steady upswing in drunken teenagers on the streets in recent years (which explains some things that seemed odd on the subway that night) and this year, some stabbings even.  The longtime corporate sponsor had already decided not to renew and it seems unclear who else would take it on. 

I didn't know all that on the day though. From the time I got the notice, I was watching for installations that might go up early.  The sculpture garden next door was a likely venue and sure enough, We Got Sculpture!

Another installation was going into the park across the street but I looked and looked right up to Saturday afternoon, to no avail.  What I did avail was that the park across the street is gorgeous.  How did I keep not noticing that all these months?

At dusk, we dashed over to Union Station, where we joined a lineup for a few minutes spent in a white boxy tent where prisms cast light on the walls, and found the hanging textiles at the top of the post.

Then we went back to the park and found the installation: a giant booklet of white plastic sheets filled with anecdotes from local residents about all the reasons they love this particular pocket of Toronto.  One young girl said it was the cinema downstairs.  I'm with her!  Pete wrote on a hanging sheet that he loves the running trails.  I just wrote "I feel happy here" which sums it up perfectly.  The art project wasn't that exciting to look at, but the feeling around it, with all sorts of happy friendly people gathering to read the pages, was lovely. 

Any time the busy streets of this city get closed to vehicles is a pretty exciting thing.

This is Bay Street, which during a weekday is jam-packed with cars.  I couldn't not stop to take a picture from the yellow line in the middle, even though my camera isn't up to managing whatever giant light that was on the right.  The golden tower at the end of the street is Old City Hall.

At regular City Hall, the still-present Toronto sign had been transformed from Colourful to Plastered With Photo Portraits.

Which, of course, you can't see at this distance.  It was a cool idea - people were lined up down the block to have their picture taken, and then a big sheet with their face in it was printed out and glued with water and brooms onto the ground of the plaza between the pond and the main building in a giant spiral.  I didn't get back to see it this week but I am pretty sure the whole place was full of faces by dawn.

Another City Hall display was a wall of these garbage stacks.  The installation was restricted to bales of plastic and metal recycling but it was still pretty, erm, aromatic - and I felt hugely sympathetic to the hosts who had to stand beside it for the duration.  Really powerful though to see all those colours and bulk and know that it's stuff we have thrown away and still takes up space somewhere.

My favourite of all the installations we saw was inspired by the big "Park Here" sign over the Bay Street underpass that lets drivers into the garage under city hall.  The artist covered the entire driveway with wood chips and small branches with leaves still on them, then positioned a collection of trees and pretty fencing across many of the parking spaces inside.

It really did feel like a park by night.  But oh golly, there was a LOT of wood chip dust and people were coughing as they came out.  I would not have done it if I had asthma, that's for sure.

After some more adventures we tried to see one more exhibit a subway ride away but the lineup for it was just too long and we were feeling our non-adolescent ages.  So we went home again to our own little sculpture-neighbour...

and hit the hay.  I noticed that not many people were making it all the way over to theses sculptures on the night, but in the days since, lots of people have been coming to admire them and take pictures.

You know what I love most, though?

The sign on the upper part of the gate.  It says "Sculpture Garden", and it always makes me so illogically happy to see it, it's so beautiful.

And now I had better get on with things, but thank you for justifying me sitting down to write all this out!  It's one of the nicest breaks I have, writing something here at Hugs, even if I don't get to do it every day.  Hopefully that will happen again someday... things have to settle down eventually, right?

Don't answer that, heh.

Okay, off we go, and I hope to see you again soon!