26 May 2015

Here and There

Time for another happy fun  omnibus post.  Yee haw.


Younger has gone on a school trip to Quebec.  Yesterday they passed through Montreal on their way to Quebec City.  They toured Notre Dame and Old Montreal.  She wasn't looking forward to that, as we have already gone there twice.  Thrice, if you count the time we went there in the winter.


Both Quebec City and Montreal have legitimate old towns.  Toronto, on the other hand, does not.  Some argue that the old city was destroyed in 1813 by the Americans when they sacked the city, but that only works if you can call a small fishing village of about five hundred living in wooden shacks mostly around the mouth of the Don River a 'city'. 

No, Toronto was built, bulldozed and built again.  They had a team of archaeologists on hand when the foundations of Skydome, er, Rogers centre, er I don't know what they call it today (I thought it should have been called the Con Dome for all the shenanigans that went into building it).  Whatever it was, it was built on one of the older areas of the city.  If I recall correctly, they found plenty of bottles and crockery, plus two bronze cannons from the French regime.  That may also have been the time they found a whale skeleton, but I am not completely certain of that.  That's another story for another day.


Speaking of oldish Toronto, last weekend was our Doors Open weekend, where various buildings throughout the city open their doors to the public.  First off, Puff and I went to the Ontario archives, because it was close by.  They took her backstage to where the preservation is done and where the vaults are, while I stayed with Frodo in the World War One exhibit they had below.  I found a note stating that they have a diary written by a man who served in the same battalion as my grandfather.  That is something I have to take a closer look at.


I am actually jealous of Younger's Quebec trip.  She is staying at the Chateau Frontenac.  When I went on my class trip to the city way back when. I did not stay at the Chateau Frontenac, I stayed at some abandoned crack house across the road from the Chateau Frontenac.  Four of us were in a 'quest room' in the basement, where our beds were right beside the furnace, washing machines and the ceiling was decorated by the duct work.  If we stood on our toes and looked out the basement window, we  could see the Chateau.   To put that another way, from our hotel room we could see a good hotel.


Our second stop on the doors open day was St Lawrence Market.  It wasn't on the list of places that were open specifically for the weekend.  I just went there because I wanted a Peameal Bacon Sandwich.


Third stop was St George's Greek Orthodox Church, just north of St Michael's Cathedral (still under heavy renovation)    St George's is amazing and I highly recommend it.  The interior is the only place outside of Greece where the decorations were done by the monks of mount Athos, and boy, do they know what they are doing.  Normally, icons aren't my favourite style of painting, but even I was struck with the craftsmanship of these.   And the use of colours- bold, loud colours everywhere.  Risky colours, but they pulled it off.   Simply amazing.


Speaking of colours in churches: that's a 'thing' of mine, if you will.  I have visited many churches with my mother and my family, and one of the thing that gets me sometimes is the milquetoast use of colours in many Catholic churches.  For example, there was this one rather intact church we visited in Hamilton.  Its large marble high altar was intact, as was most of the church.  However, the marble was of a pinkish hue, and they painted the wall behind it a soft, off white pastel pink.  The altar just bled into the wall when it should have popped.  Similarly, when I went to the newly renovated Our Lady Immaculate in Guelph, I found they had painted the interior mainly white, so the white marble high altar with its statue of Mary and the white marble stations of the cross just faded into the wall.   The church isn't ugly now, not by a long shot.  It's just bland, and the House of God should never be bland.

I've seen similar things in many churches, it is like the design committee is scared of bolder colours.  Bold colours are high risk./ high reward: if you get the colours right, it will look amazing, but if you get them wrong, it will be horrible.  Pastels and off whites tend to be low risk/low reward: If you get the colours wrong, it still won't look that bad.  But, by thee same token, even if you get it right, it won't look that good.

Oddly enough, there was a Polish church almost across the road from the other Catholic Church in Hamilton.  Puff and I stopped in to look at it, and the contrast could not have been more pronounced.  Bold colours in intricate patterns covered every surface of the interior.  It could have been horrible, but it was wonderful instead.  Mind, it was tame in comparison with St George's.


Younger will also be visiting St Anne de Beaupre while she is Quebec.  I wanted to go back there, but I have never managed to pull it off.  It is always just a little outside of my budget.  She, however, isn't really looking too forward to it.  She claims I have taken her to too many churches.

So, to what is she really looking forward?  Whale watching.  They will be going on a small boat for a three hour tour.  A three hour tour.


I am somewhat nervous about that.  I hope there's someone on board who knows how to make a radio out of a pair of coconuts.


On Sunday Puff Younger and I visited Black Creek Pioneer Village as it was free that day.  The place has gone downhill, I am sorry to say.  They didn't have many presenters showing us how the work was done.  No cooper, no shoemaker, no broom maker.  They had a photography shop, which I thought would be interesting- dress up like a pioneer and have our photo taken- but, instead, it was an empty room with a chair and one or two props.  They had a vest and an apron and a few other things you or your companion could put on, and then you take the picture yourself. With your own camera. Cheap and stupid.

Do these people not want to make money?

 Worst of all, from my biased point of view, was that there was no cabinet maker.  The shop was in good order, with tools on display, but there was no wood to be worked, no shavings or dust on the floor, no projects in progress.  Nothing.  I asked around, to see what was going on (and if there is an opening, I would gladly apply) and found out that the old cabinet maker or one of his apprentices injured themselves a few years ago, and, for insurance reasons, it was decided to close the shop. 

What kind of buffoon injures themselves that badly with hand tools?  And was it that bad, or are the insurance companies paranoid?  Was it serious, or just a couple of stitches?  Don't get me wrong- my left hand is covered with scars from woodworking.  If they were using power tools, that would be another matter entirely.  You can lose a hand in a second with those.  But to really hurt yourself with handsaws and planes?  That takes both real effort and real incompetence.


In other news, I am now a second degree knight.

We are told to keep the rituals secret, and I will honour the oath I swore, but, at the same time, I am a little disappointed.  I wanted better secrets.  Maybe I'll learn something at one of the higher levels.  I see one of the grand knights leaning forward and whispering something like:  "You know World War Two?  That was us."


I hope Younger is enjoying herself.  I am jealous, but I still hope that she has a wonderful time with good memories.  Something she can tell her kids about.  Or at least me. 


Anonymous said...

Nice Gilligan's Island reference!

Julian Barkin said...

Congratulations Bear on obtaining 2nd degree. I likewise advanced another degree myself, that being the 3rd degree, last night in King City. Quite awesome to do this I say!

Now, more importantly this was the most epic part of your post: "Our second stop on the doors open day was St Lawrence Market. It wasn't on the list of places that were open specifically for the weekend. I just went there because I wanted a Peameal Bacon Sandwich."

Peameal Bacon Sandwich for the win! Pax!