June 2004 to March, 2012

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Joni’s quilt lands in Salmo

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Danica’s plan was to have Joni’s log cabin quilt ready in time to be a Christmas gift, but you know how hectic things get around that time of year. The idea is to enjoy making these beauties, not to rush them because of a deadline.

So now Joni gets a lovely surprise, right out of the blue… in plenty of time for use against Winter’s chill. It gets a lot colder and snowier up in the Rockies than it does in Toronto, especially this year.

Danica’s quilts are all different from one another, in fabrics, of course, but also in styles. She’s made log cabins in different configurations, a puzzle quilt, pineapple log cabins and other designs I don’t know the names for. Every one is unique and if you get one, you know you’re in Danica’s good books. They take a lo-o-o-n-g time to finish.

Here’s my little animation of the 2800km trip. Love ya, Joni!

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February 7, 2012   4 Comments

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee kicked off

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Friends John and Ruth Colombo were in good company today, when they went to the Lieutenant General’s presentation ceremony. Writer John Robert was among the first 60 people here in Toronto to receive The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Thousands of these medals will be presented to Canadians throughout the year, marking the 60th anniversary of the monarch’s reign. It is a particular honour to be chosen as one of the first 60 recipients and I am pleased to see John’s name on the list.

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February 6, 2012   1 Comment

Caterpillar kicked out

Caterpillar accepted millions in tax breaks but also demanded that workers at its Electro-Motive plant accept savage pay reductions. The workers refused so Caterpillar retreated back to the States, closing their London plant and throwing hundreds of employees out of work.

London outlets of my favourite fashion chain, Mark’s Work Wearhouse, responded by taking Caterpillar branded products off their shelves. It doesn’t help anything and maybe it’s a bit self-serving to play up to the local customer base, but it kinda feels good.

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February 6, 2012   1 Comment

Finally, a photo of the photographer

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Rebecca Staton has contributed many beautiful shots of High Park to this blog. Today I received a batch that included a picture of Rebecca, for a change.

She has always shown talent with a camera… a great eye and a rock steady hand. Over the years that she’s been sharing her work, I’ve noticed how her photographs have developed in phases. I think she started with the beauty of the park itself… landscapes and vistas… documenting the changing seasons.

Then she started to do macro photos, especially plant life and flowers, with some interesting depth of field displays. When she began to focus on the animals and birds in the park, the first photos were from a distance. Gradually, she figured out how to get closer and closer, capturing vivid colours and sharp textures. Bill’s way with birds helped. Rebecca has recorded many species feeding right out on his palm.

It’s not that Rebecca gets into a “style” and stays there. Rather, she keeps expanding her range, using all of the things she learns at the same time. The result is beautiful variety drawn from a single place, the huge park that she and Bill live beside.

Rebecca’s compositions are all done right in her viewfinder and her creative powers have grown in that department, too. Here’s one more from the latest collection. Dramatic and expressive, isn’t it?

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February 6, 2012   1 Comment

“Hire me… I’m dishonest!”

[UPDATE: Fast work by Councillor McMahon’s office. DUMP signs gone in one day.]

I hope 310-DUMP and others like him get what they deserve… no business, big fines and enforced removal of their illegal signs. Mr DUMP has had the nerve to stick up 7 of his eyesores in one short block on Duvernet, west of Woodbine.

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February 5, 2012   5 Comments

Love your letter to Yellow Pages, Kate.

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February 3, 2012   No Comments

Nope, it’s not Obama.

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Looks like the U.S. President, doesn’t it? But it’s a 1962 Barker Fairley portrait of Zalman Yanovsky* before he became a rock star with The Lovin’ Spoonful, and much, much before he opened his “Chez Piggy” restaurant in Kingston, Ontario. Zal was also “done” by Cynthia Plaster Caster which was probably more fun than sitting for Fairley.

I got the book from the library for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to see if two particular paintings were in there. One day, while visiting the home of John and Ruth Colombo, I was thrilled to see that Fairley had done portraits of both Ruth and John. There they were, hanging on the wall! Not in the book, though. Perhaps some day the Colombos will let me photograph their originals and show them here.

Now, John doesn’t really like the picture Fairley did of him, so it is to his credit that he didn’t hide that one away, out of sight. No, he’s a bigger man than that, and, if I may guess, accepts the painting as another artist’s vision, worthy of respect.

Barker Fairley certainly has my respect. I like his paintings a lot and find it a wonder that he doesn’t get more attention. His approach seems to me to share much with that of U.S. artist Milton Avery, not in colour, but in form, simplicity and flatness. (Danica bought a large Milton Avery print, The Red Fisherman, because she likes Avery, too.)

Barker Farley’s reputation as a painter may have been eclipsed by his academic career as a Goethe scholar. Art historians really don’t like painters who are good at more than one thing, do they?

*Spelled Yanofsky” in the Fairley book

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February 3, 2012   2 Comments

Kathy Bertrand, channelling Paul Royko

Kathy is certain that an inspired message has come to her from her occasionally curmudgeonly late husband, Paul Royko. It is for Mayor Rob Ford, who is playing the local media with his weight loss antics.

Why not ask Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti to take his head out of your backside, Mr Ford? That should be good for 20 pounds or so, right there.

[Hey, we didn’t say it. Blame Royko.]

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February 2, 2012   No Comments

In art, dates do matter.

Browsing through a remarkable collection of portraits, I came across one that shocked me with its modernity, considering that it was dated 1807.

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I was not familiar with the work of Polish artist Jazek Malczewski, but I wanted to know more about this guy. He seems to paint like a Brit pop artist in the 1960s. How come we don’t hear more about an artist so much ahead of his time?

Well, of course, it turns out that the 1807 date is very wrong. Malczewski wasn’t even born until 1854 and he lived until 1929. So he was well aware of modern trends in painting, and very capable of using such influences in his own vigorous way. His contrived Symbolist efforts detract from his obvious talent, but still… hell of a striking self portrait, isn’t it?

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February 2, 2012   2 Comments

A timely message about social network giants

My friend Merrill has alerted me, just as Facebook is about to go public with its IPO. Let’s look ahead a bit, to the inevitable merger of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Anyone else think that Facebook’s Zuckerberg may be astutely cashing out before everybody gets tired of Facebooking?

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February 1, 2012   3 Comments