“Who’s Vince?” question answered

It’s not a guy, as I expected; not even a relative of the developer. The new street, created for townhouses off Edgewood, is named for Corinne Vince, a popular teacher at Corpus Christi school before it was demolished to make way for the residential street.

I learned this by reading a posting on the Orchard Park bulletin board, which says something for such boards and for taking time to see what’s on them.

New year, new dangers


This just in from the I.M.P. Newswire …

Teacher Arrested At London Heathrow Airport – held in isolation.

A secondary school teacher was arrested today at London’s Heathrow International airport as he attempted to board an international flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a pair of compasses, a slide-rule and a calculator.

At a press conference, a UK Border Control spokesman said he believes the man is a member of the notorious extremist Al-Gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the Police with carrying weapons of maths instruction.

‘Al-Gebra is a problem for us’, the Spokesman said. ‘They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.’ They use secret code names like “X” and “Y” and refer to themselves as “unknowns;” but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philosopher Isosceles used to say, “There are three sides to every triangle.”

When asked to comment on the arrest, Opposition Leader Ed Milliband said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of maths instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.” Fellow Labour colleagues told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the Opposition Leader.

Helen Andersen monoprint

monoprint Monoprint in Black and Red. Signed. Approximately 9 inches wide by 12 inches tall

This is the first one of the year to get its new frame, but the third in a set of 3 that were part of the discovered cache of artworks.

The fun of free form monoprints like this is seeing different images in the shapes. Helen liked to use such techniques to break away from predictable compositions.

A similar technique involved “smoke paintings” made by holding paper over a sooty candle to create random wisps of carbon deposits. These could then be “helped along” with charcoal drawing sticks, to bring out whatever imagery the artist saw. We have an example, also from the cache.

I remember house parties Helen threw when I was a kid, when guests were encouraged to make smoke paintings … artists and non-artists alike. Some pieces were passed around and worked on by many hands. Risqué imagery brought lots of laughter when it emerged. Nothing too rude, if I recall, just nudes and perhaps some exaggerated parts. Very Bohemian.

New Year’s Day at the McMichael

The show ends the first week of January, so Danica and I went with Ruth and John Robert Colombo to see how two Canadian artists stacked up against a famous Frenchman. Below, the distinguished Member of the Order of Canada poses with a sculpture outside the gallery.
The show was a big one, featuring over 130 Morrices and Lymans and a few Matisses. I am very glad I saw it, but came away with mixed feelings about the exhibit itself. For one thing, even though he was represented by only a few paintings and drawings, Matisse was clearly the much better painter.

The comparison seems unfair, but that’s the way the show was set up. I think I would have preferred 3 separate shows, to better appreciate each artist for what he was, on his own terms. Morrice and Lyman were very able artists and produced some gems of real merit. They would have looked better if Matisse weren’t sharing a room with them.

While I am griping, I may as well take a shot at the lighting of the paintings. Little spotlights picked out each piece, too theatrically, in my opinion, while visitors moved along the walls in relative darkness. Not only was it like being in a movie theatre, the spotlights left black bands of shadow across the tops of small pictures, cast by the framing mats. The effect interfered with viewing and altered compositions.

In spite of a few misgivings about the McMichael’s display techniques, I agree completely with Ruth’s feeling that we could not have spent New Year’s Day in a better way. We enjoyed a nice lunch there, too.

Best one-liner of the evening

For some years now, it has been our custom to celebrate New Year’s over dinner with friends.

Each year, our hostess preserves a Polish tradition by giving every guest a new pair of underpants to start the year fresh. This year she went further, including new socks.

When Ralph discovered the bonus, he exclaimed with delight, “Oh, it’s an outfit!”

My hope for Canada in 2015

This is the year we can finally remove Stephen Harper and his sad party from office. I hope we will manage it, so we can begin to repair the damage to parliamentary process, to Canada’s international reputation and to our lopsided, oil-driven economy.

No matter how we choose to replace the Conservatives, Ontario’s experience with the disastrous Mike Harris shows that damage repair will not be swift and may never be complete, but first we have to stop going in the wrong direction.

My hope is that we will build a more resilient, diversified economy, stop playing soldier in pointless and expensive military adventures, restore science and research to a place of respect, with proper funding, and recognize our responsibility to the environment.

I hope Canada will return to striving for social ideals of compassion and fairness, which are better goals than stingy foreign-worker schemes and privatization of public responsibilities. I hope we will regain some trust that our taxes with not be squandered on gazebos, political propaganda and G-20 security orgies. I hope we will enter into adult debate and discussion about the kind of society we want to build and regain our willingness to fund initiatives that are beyond the scope of commercial interests.

Fear, greed and distrust are powerful political tools. Their influence will not be easy to overcome. Those who replace the Conservatives will have their own weaknesses and agendas, too. We will not be rescued by saints or sages, but I hope we will find our way toward better government at home and less ridiculous posturing abroad.

The endless search for inspiration

It’s almost time to design another book cover for John Robert Colombo, so naturally I was interested in an article about unusual library book covers …


These 4 examples were my faves. The subtitle on Dancing with Cats is too small to read, so here it is:


I love the picture on the National Rifle Association book. How idyllic! The little woman dutifully cleans and oils the family handgun while hubby (in the background) stares at a blank TV screen.

I like the Muskrat book because, well, it’s just so practical.

I know you want more, so here.

High flying spiders in Toronto

IMG_0778.JPGDinner conversation at Kathleen’s last night revealed a mystery. Dayl’s office is on the 63rd floor of the beautiful, red granite-clad Scotiabank tower. Her view sounds stunning, but she also sees spiders, hundreds of spiders climbing outside on the window glass.

They busy themselves building elaborate webs until rain lashes them away or window washers remove them. The cleaners do a meticulous job, scrubbing all surfaces, frames and crannies, but soon the spiders are back. Where the heck are they coming from?

I had heard of spiders that travel through tropical rainforest treetops, riding winds on sails made of cobwebs. I had never heard of it happening this far north, and up to heights of 63 storeys! Could it be?

Apparently so. Google turns up examples in Chicago. Why not here? Here are more links, confirming the ways of wind-born cobweb sailors. In the UK. I like the note on spider mites, because that would explain why Dayl sees swarms of spiders that appear suddenly. A whole nest of mites, travelling in a clump would explain this.

David Attenborough says they can soar to extreme heights!

A Youtube video shows them in the Brazilian sky.

Dayl says I can visit her office and see the Toronto spiders for myself, but that will have to wait until the weather is more spider-friendly.