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Gaudi Barcelona in 2020!

I’m not sure how many couples out there go travelling independent of one another but my husband and I every few years take separate vacations from time to time and I feel we are the better for it.  Since I took two vacations this year without him, one to PEI and one to the Soo (Sault Ste Marie) with a good friend of mine, it is now his turn for adventure.

He is going to travel to London, England to visit with a good friend of his from New Zealand who he met in Vancouver where they worked together.  He now lives in the U.K. with a lovely wife and three kids.  My husband is also going to Barcelona, Spain for four days on his own to relax and check out different tourist places, and I have naturally been chosen to arrange it all which I don’t mind doing because I learn a lot; however, I am a bit jealous of his trip as I have only passed through Barcelona and have not really experienced the City.  I have given him explicit instructions to take lots of photos.

Of course, one of the chief reasons tourists visit this City is for the Gaudi architecture, not to be confused with gaudy.  Below is a little info on the man and his distinctive style.

Antoni Gaudí, (born June 25, 1852, Reus, Spain—died June 10, 1926, Barcelona) was a Catalan architect, whose distinctive style is characterized by freedom of form, voluptuous colour and texture, and organic unity.

At 73 years of age he was hit by a Barcelona tram on the street on Monday 7th June 1926.  Gaudí died 3 days later in hospital suffering from broken ribs, a bruise on his right leg and severe internal bleeding

Below are some examples of his most notable works but there are plenty more to see if you have the time.


Casa Milá (La Pedrera) beige and gray concrete building

Also referred to as “the stone quarry” due to its unusual rough-hewn appearance, Casa Milá is one of Barcelona’s most popular modernist buildings.
UNESCO recognized this building as World Heritage in 1984.  Casa Mila (1906-1912) is Antoni Gaudi’s most iconic work of civic architecture due to both its constructional and functional innovations, as well as its ornamental and decorative solutions. It is a total work of art. «Man makes art for man and hence it must be rational.»  Many people recommend that you see this at night to take in the light show.

Parc Güell (Park Güell) 

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It was built between 1900 and 1914 and today is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. This is a garden complex that houses a series of dynamically designed buildings, including Gaudí’s house.  It is here where Gaudí perfected his personal style, which was greatly inspired by organic shapes (his naturalist phase)

 

Casa Batlló 

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Casa Batlló is the result of a total restoration in 1904 of an old conventional house built in 1877. Gaudí used for it typical constructive elements of the Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau movement) that include ceramics, stone, and forged iron.

Even though it was highly criticized by the city during construction due to its radical design which contravened all the bylaws of the city, in 1906 the Barcelona City Council awarded it the recognition of being one of the three best buildings of the year.

The building is so irregular that there are few straight lines in it and much of the façade is decorated with a colorful mosaic, known as trencadís, made of broken ceramic tiles.

La Sagrada Familia 

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Sagrada Familia is the most famous of Gaudí’s works – his masterpiece. This church has been in construction since 1892, and it’s not expected to be finished until 2026 — to commemorate the centenary of Gaudí’s death.

Construction of Sagrada Familia started in 1882 under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, but by 1883 Villar resigned, giving Gaudí the opportunity to take over as chief architect.


 

If you decide you’d like to go to Spain, I wholeheartedly recommend that you go to Montserrat which is approximately 30 miles from Barcelona and can be reached by any manner of ways – train, car, bus, private tour, taxi, helicopter, etc.  This was the problem as I couldn’t decide whether to book my husband on a structured tour and being rushed or let him make his own way to the Metro and get his own ticket when he wanted to go.  So I am leaving this decision to him but I would go!

After driving through picturesque little villages, you arrive at the incomparable setting of the mountain of Montserrat, which rises majestically to 4,051 feet (1,236 meters).

Here you will find the Royal Basilica of Montserrat, which holds the famous 12th century Romanesque carving of Virgen Moreneta, the Black Madonna. Discover how pilgrims and visitors contributed to the spread of stories of miracles and wonders performed by the Virgin. Learn how the Royal Basilica has become and still remains one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain one thousand years after it was originally founded.


I know my husband will take photos of the architecture for me and he enjoys it but he is more of a sports nut so expect he will take in the FC Barcelona stadium or enjoy an exclusive experience at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at the wheel of a GT. These emblematic, high-performance cars -Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini..- are what any motor sport fan would love to have and drive at least once in a lifetime; that is of course if I tell him about it.

He may just want to wander the different districts at his leisure and stop in for tapas and a beer in whatever establishment catches his fancy. Or possibly the world famous paella and cava.   I will be home shoveling the snow and cranking the heat and wishing I were there but fair is fair! …boy that was hard to write… I hope he has a great time and can’t wait to see his photos!

Note:  After his trip I will post where he stayed and what he found attractive about the City and where he found good food and beer or wine

 

Endless Days

Two adirondacks in garden 2You know those insurance ads that feature a retired couple sitting in Muskoka chairs at the end of a dock on a picturesque lake in cottage country sipping a hot beverage and holding hands – yeah, well that’s not my reality in “my golden years”.

The house does not clean itself but my car can drive itself to the grocery store – unfortunately, it doesn’t do the shopping as well.  Beds still have to be made, toilets cleaned, windows washed, etc. etc.  – you may have retired but the chores have not!  The silver lining however is that if you don’t feel like doing any of that on a given day, you can just go back to bed, pull the covers over your head and nap or catch up on that book you have been meaning to read.

I now have the time to be grateful for all that I have, the time to be creative … get out and take photos, paint, and take on projects that I’ve always wanted to complete.  People ask how I fill all those hours that I don’t work; aren’t I bored but I honestly don’t know where the time goes –  I play on the computer, watch you tube videos, tinker in the garden, see friends, go to concerts, walk in the woods, dance around the house and volunteer.  I recently volunteered for an event at a local auditorium which went off rather well despite the few glitches associated with a first time exhibition.  I distributed flyers for them the week before and the Monday of so I got to get out and get fresh air, had some exercise and participated in a worthwhile endeavor.  I also handed out attendee bags the first day and helped hand out sponsor packages the day before while they set up; everyone so excited and enthusiastic. I figure I’m pretty much on my way to sainthood now!

I watched the organizer who is very talented and efficient and seems to run on those bunny batteries handle all the different crisis that came up in a calm, professional manner and I applaud her zeal and commitment and energy and I realized I don’t want my time structured anymore, I don’t want to be that responsible anymore.  I want to enjoy ‘me’ time; I’ve earned it!  Not quite ready to sit and watch the sun set up in cottage country but adapting quite nicely thank you very much!

The quest for the perfect night’s sleep

pillows

I’m not at all sure how many of you even consider the importance of the pillow you sleep on at night and its overall effect on your health but in the last ten months or so it has become the windmill to my Don Quixote.

Normally I could care less whether a pillow is made of goose feathers, polyurethane foam, buckwheat or organic hemp … but those ads you see constantly on the TV do prod at your subconscious ever so sneakily and before you know it you have invested in a $200 contoured orthopedic polar ice pillow for your bedroom.  What the hell happened?

Now I know that a lot of you like the real goose down feather variety to keep it real or the down alternatives – and most others like a polyurethane or polyester fiber pillow which is hypoallergenic and doesn’t irritate sensitive sleepers. Plus, a group of you  like buckwheat hull and memory-foam models or bamboo pillows (called as such due to the bamboo fibers used to help create the material weave found in the casing) but generally filled with a shredded memory foam.  I have to say though that I think we have gone over the deep end here and not in a good way.

Now, I personally like a flat pillow, not one of those fluffy overstuffed things that make your neck sore just looking at it.  I only need a certain amount of fabric between me and the mattress, I have managed to make it through the night with a folded towel when need be but I much prefer a pillow that I can sink into and it surrounds my neck like well oiled masseuse hands that know how to get that crick out.

Recently, we decided to get a new bed – a king-sized bed so that both of us would have lots of room for moving around without kicking the other off the bed.  So we figured we should treat ourselves to these new buckwheat filled, cool to the touch clouds of delight that we have seen constantly on late night TV, you know the ones I mean.  I don’t think anyone ever mentions the fact that you could actually kill someone with them if you ever got in a pillow fight since they are god awful heavy.

My husband, bless him, seems to have adapted quite readily to his whereas I feel mine is a blend of instrument of torture and foul-smelling doorstop.  Needless to say, I have gone back to my much pulverized but comfortable synthetic model that I have had for the past few years.

I just sleep better with it and no geese were plucked in the making and we didn’t spend the equivalent of ten bottles of wine on it.  I also sleep with a cheap pillow beneath my knees to relieve lower back pressure.  Unfortunately one of the polar ice contoured fancy pillows sits neglected in a corner of the bedroom reminding me of how hard-earned money can be foolishly misspent.

Aw well live and learn!

Note:  Experts at the National Sleep Foundation recommend replacing your pillow every 18 months or so. Pillows can be packed with mold, dead skin cells and dust mites, oh, my!  Yes, even when you throw the pillowcases in the wash every week.

To determine if it’s really time to get a new pillow, test it by folding it in half and seeing if it springs back to flat. If it doesn’t, it’s time to find a new place to rest your head.

 

The Gateway to the North

Travel through time when you visit the gateway to the north; the beautiful community of Sault Ste Marie.

Bridge to the StatesSitting near the mouth of the St. Mary’s River, Sault Ste. Marie is a community with a rich local history steeped in the steel and shipping industries.  Opened in 1962, the three-arch Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge spans the St. Mary’s River, connecting the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

The reason why my friend and I were here: to cross one of those adventures we’d wanted to do for years off our bucket list – The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is one of the great train trips in North America.

And what is not to like about trains, the look, the feel, the smells and sounds come together in a symphony of delight.  Our anticipation was soon to be sated.  We had arrived in the Soo (as affectionately known) on Tuesday evening after a 6 hour drive through some spectacular scenery of its own from Orillia.  We had allowed a day for rest and relaxation before heading out again only this time with an engineer driving.

Algoma Canyon Park

This one-day wilderness train tour takes you 183 km north of Sault Ste. Marie, over towering trestles and along pristine northern lakes and rivers, to the Agawa Canyon created more than 1.2 billion years ago.

 

Since we did not know the Soo that well, we decided to go into town the day before the trip to suss out where the train station was in order to arrive on time (we tend to get lost a lot, I don’t know why).  After two failed attempts (one at the hands of a tourism info guide), we found the station and confirmed we were indeed booked for the next day, would we like to have our tickets so that we could avoid the line-up the next morning and just wait on the platform.  Would we?? Yes! She also told us where to park the next morning as our compartment number boarded to the right of the station.  Fantastic!  See, sometimes it pays to scout ahead.

The next morning we were up before the sun to be at the station for an 8 o’clock departure.  It was a cloudy day but we were hoping the sun would burn off the clouds once we reached the Canyon floor.  Unfortunately, the train’s departure was delayed by an hour due to an electrical problem but this did not dampen our enthusiasm and when it appeared blowing it’s whistle, the crowd cheered and we were off.

We appreciated that everyone was given a guide so we knew where we were. Also, there was an audio guide that played intermittently throughout the train, giving useful information about the sights and some history of the Soo.  A few of the highlights included spectacular vistas of Lake Superior and a thrilling ride across a train trestle bridge.

CautionSoon enough, we were at the Agawa Canyon Park. We had an hour and a half to explore. We chose to do the Lookout stairs which is somewhat not for amateurs but we did it anyways.  High-fives all around.  The view was well worth it.  As we had some time left we decided to walk to the Black Beaver Falls.  We didn’t have enough time left to go to the Bridal Falls which we passed by on the way in. We spent the rest of our time slowly making our way back to the train and taking a few photos and taking in the scenery.  And yes, the sun did come out a bit to make our day.

We heard the woot of the train whistle and knew it was time to board again. The next few hours were spent with enjoyable conversation with our fellow travellers. We met a lovely couple from Wisconsin who were retired and had been married over 50 years, no small feat I assure you. We pulled into the station tired but content from our day’s journey and having crossed off another must do off the bucket list.

As a side note:  Group of Seven Painters came to the Algoma area from 1918–1923, including Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, J.E.H. MacDonald and Arthur Lismer. They rented a boxcar and outfitted it like a cabin which was shunted to sidings near choice painting locations. From there they would go along the track on foot and by canoe throughout the wilderness. Their paintings became famous, as did the area they painted.

Tallest sunflower on record – over 30 feet!

Do you ever sit in the afternoon sun and ponder about how many different species of sunflowers there are in the world.  The answer my friend is 70.  You can rest easy now knowing that fact but did you also know that each sunflower is actually made up of thousands of tiny individual flowers, up to 2000.   And they are not always yellow.

I write about these today because I see them all over the place at this time of year except of course in my own garden.  I hate to admit it but I cannot grow them there and I have tried, oh yes, I have tried.  Since my husband loves them, I have periodically through the years, bought different ones and planted them in different spots in the garden and they die.  I don’t know why!  Subsequently, now I just take pictures of them and then give him a card every once in awhile so he can enjoy them if not in the flesh so to speak then through a photograph.  Below are some facts regarding sunflowers for you.

Famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings called Sunflowers. 

Kansas is often known as the Sunflower state and the flower is in fact Kansas’s state flower. The sunflower is also the national flower of Ukraine.

Sunflower was  an important source of food for Native Americans. They used yellow pigment from the flowers to paint their bodies during spiritual rituals and to make dyes for fabrics. Also, they used sunflowers in medical purposes and for the production of bread.

Another factor that has a big influence on the meaning of  sunflowers is the belief (in Chinese culture especially) that they bring good luck. It’s believed that sunflowers are the ideal bloom to fill a home with a sense of safety and good fortune.

Sunflowers have also gone to space – specifically the International Space Station with astronaut Don Pettit in 2012.

Baseball players now substitute chewing sunflower seeds for tobacco which I think is not only prudent (less danger of contracting cancer of the mouth for one) but healthy as they provide Vitamin D and minerals to give them more energy. Along with health concerns, the slow pace of baseball provides players an excellent opportunity to find something to keep them busy. Chewing gum and seeds are also an excellent way to cope with the nervous energy built up during a high tension game.

And for your musical treat of the day

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Music from the Sixties

Feeling nostalgic today and thinking about the British Invasion when we finally heard music from outside North America and what a treat it was.  Now I realize that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones are the best known of the groups back then but one of my favourite bands was the Dave Clark Five which I stenciled onto the back of a sweater to promote my love of them as a teenager.  Good times back then and still enjoyable today.

 

 

Though the Zombies are more likely known for their big single “She’s Not There” which is very much deserved I’ve always liked this song.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio this year.

Another great group with many songs that I like especially  “Don’t Let the Sun Catch you Crying” and “I’ll be There” but this one stands out for me.

 

While the Beatles kick-started the British Invasion causing mass hysteria in teenaged girls who cried and fainted and yelled and screamed sometimes drowning out their music, there were many bands who came after them like:

Herman’s Hermits – The Animals (also one of my favourite groups) – Yardbirds – The Hollies – The Kinks – Freddie and the Dreamers – The Searchers – The Who – Chad and Jeremy – The Small Faces – The Tremeloes – Procol Harum – and many more!

They helped shape my love of music – Motown, Rockabilly, the Blues, Rock and Roll, Jazz, World Music, alternative, Cajun and on and on.  What would this world be like without music – I shudder at the thought!  There are songs that I hear that take me right back to a certain place and time and feeling as if it just happened.  I hope you enjoy this small sample of the British Invasion!

 

 

Two great singers gone too soon!

From time to time I like to reflect on songs, books, movies, situations that had an impact on me.  I hope that you will benefit from the following female singer/songwriters as I did.

Lhasa de Sela  Related image

“For four days after she died, it snowed in Montreal, it was as if the sky were grieving” –posted by Denis Spichak on you tube comments! 

Born to an American mother and a Mexican father in Big Indian, upstate New York the singer-songwriter died in her home, after a 21-month battle with breast cancer. She was 37 years old.  Known professionally as Lhasa, she marked the world music scene with her dreamy and ethereal songs, written and recorded in Spanish, French and English.

Lhasa grew up on the road, travelling in a converted school bus with her nomadic family. She eventually followed her sisters to Montreal, where she settled at 19.

In 1997, Montreal-based singer Lhasa de Sela released her first album, La Llorona, (the crying woman, in Spanish) an album of emotion-drenched songs that drew on the traditions of Mexican balladeers, French chansonniers, and Quebecois poets. The album was a huge international hit, selling 400,000 copies in France alone, and in its wake Lhasa performed several times in Vancouver, BC gaining a strong local following. Then she disappeared completely from the radar–no touring, no albums, no nothing–leaving legions of fans wondering what became of the elfin singer with the smoky, impassioned voice.

Extensive touring with the Canadian all-female music festival Lilith Fair left Lhasa feeling burnt out, and in 1998 she stepped out of the spotlight and joined Pocheros, her sisters’ touring circus, in France.

Lhasa settled in the south of France to write songs for her second album, The Living Road, recorded in French, English and Spanish. The Times of London named her sophomore work as one of the 10 best world albums of the decade.

Her ultimate album, called Lhasa, a collection of English songs recorded live, was launched at Montreal’s Corona Theatre.  Lhasa cancelled her 2009 tour because of her illness.

I first saw her perform with her very tight band at the Vancouver Folk Festival in the late 90’s and was captivated by her voice and strong persona whilst performing.  I had no idea what she was singing but I identified with the raw, emotional context.  My husband and I also caught her at the River Run Centre in Guelph a few years before she died.

 

            Lhasa de Sela, singer-songwriter, born 27 September, 1972; died 1 January, 2010

 


Eva Cassidy  Image result for Eva Cassidy photo

“Whatever genre she is singing, she totally nails. Gospel, country, blues, jazz, r & b. She makes every song her own. She was a rare talent, gone way too soon.”

Don’t be surprised if you have never heard of the talented singer and musician Eva Cassidy. Most people in the United States are not familiar with her or her music. If you live in the United Kingdom, chances are you probably have listened to this amazing American songstress as she reached popularity there long before being known in her native country.  One of her songs ‘Songbird’ is in the 2003 Christmas movie “Love Actually”, her music was featured on the Sopranos and in a Madonna documentary.  For those fans of the Netflix show “Grace and Frankie” – Eva’s song “Who Knows Where the Time Goes from the Imagine album played at the end of the final episode (episode 13 “The Sign’) of Season 3 as Grace and Frankie are going up in the hot air balloon. 

After having a malignant mole removed from her back in 1993, the melanoma spread to other parts of her body. Despite treatment, she lost her battle with cancer in November, 1996. Sadly, Eva Cassidy was only 33 years old when she died. Her parents, Barbara and Hugh Cassidy live in Bowie, Md., in the house where Eva, the third of their four children, came to stay in her final months, so her mother could care for her. Barbara Cassidy worked for years in a flower nursery, as did her daughter. Hugh is a retired special-education teacher. Like Eva, he is both musical, playing the cello and bass, and artistic. He produces metal sculptures; she was a painter who created murals for local schools.

In 1998, Blix Records released “Songbird.” The collection featured some songs taken from Blues Alley, others were recorded by Biondo (from her band) at his studios.

The record had middling success in most of the United States. But Cassidy’s posthumous career took off when a BBC producer in London got a copy of “Songbird” and began playing a live version of “Fields of Gold” and a studio rendition of “Over the Rainbow.” The phones lit up. The U.K. was enthralled. An amateur video of Cassidy singing “Over the Rainbow” filmed at Blues Alley was played on BBC-TV’s “Top of the Pops” and quickly became the most-requested video in the program’s history, according to the show’s producers. A handful of gold record singles and millions of CD sales followed.

 

My husband loves the organ in the first song and I love the saxophone on this one!  A great talent gone too soon!  A shy, introvert who could be stubborn and didn’t want to be pigeonholed never got to enjoy her fame and fortune …but who will live on eternally in her music.

Eva Cassidy – born 2nd Feb, 1963 and died 2nd of Nov, 1996


 

Cleveland, Ohio … Not the armpit of the world

For some unknown reason, at least to me, Cleveland is a city in America that has been called the ‘armpit of the world’ by some poor bloke that probably has never visited the place.  This past May two four week-end which we lovingly call the Victoria Day week-end in Canada – and for many shaking off the shackles of a long, cold winter has come to mean the celebration of warm weather finally arriving – and of course…a case of beer or two!

So, my husband and I took off on the Saturday morning to spend three days, two nights in Cleveland which is about six hours drive plus the wait at the border to cross which can be long.  I believe, we were over in a half hour so all was good, plus we had great tunes on the drive.  Doesn’t take much to make us happy!  Since we hadn’t had breakfast we stopped near Erie, Pennsylvania for lunch.  Fortified, we were on our way again.  Two things I noticed – there were so many deer dead on the side of the road or in the meridian and I felt incredibly bad for them …although I’m sure it was no picnic for the poor bugger who ran into them.  Secondly, there was a lot of road construction, happily being a Saturday they weren’t working, but I made a mental note to prepare for those work slowdowns on the way back.

Cleveland Museum of Art atrium
The atrium at Cleveland Museum of Art

Having a limited amount of time to enjoy the city, we nonetheless managed to pack quite a bit into the next two days.  Early in the morning on Sunday, we visited the Cleveland Museum of Art which is stunning and right next to the Botanical Gardens.  It is closed on Mondays so our only option was Sunday.  Located at 11150 East Boulevard. www.ClevelandArt.org

View from our seats way out Unfortunately, we only had two hours to visit as we were attending the Cleveland Indian ballgame that afternoon with Baltimore (the Orioles were badly crushed).  Progressive Field is a great ballpark and after watching a few innings from our seats we walked around to the other side to get different viewpoints and talked to a number of fans about their ball club and life in general.

East 4th Street.JPGAfter the game we had a quick appetizer and cocktail at 4th Street which is a pedestrian friendly alley with twinkling patio lights all along the length of it.

Ralphies,We decided to go and visit Ralphie’s house from “A Christmas Story”  which is one of our favourite Christmas shows to watch every year about the young boy who wanted a BB gun for Christmas and everyone kept telling him “you’ll shoot your eye out”.  If you’ve never seen it, it will give you a good idea of how cold it can get in the winter.  Located at 3159 West 11th Street and open from 10 am – 5 pm.

Guardians of Traffic on Hope Memorial BridgeNaturally, I had to get some photos of the Guardians of Traffic which are art deco sculptures on each end of the Hope Memorial Bridge (formerly Lorain-Carnegie) behind Progressive Field and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The figures are carved from 43 foot tall local Berea sandstone.  I couldn’t believe how close everything was.  We walked for miles that day.  At the end of the evening we had a nice Italian meal at Carrabba’s in Westlake and fell into bed pleasantly exhausted.

Cleveland rocks.JPGMonday morning we headed back home but first we stopped off at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which I highly recommend if you enjoy music at all.  Long Live Rock and Roll. We did not see everything we would have liked so we will now have to go back and spend another couple of days sometime in the future.  Do you ever really get to see everything in one City?  All in all a very enjoyable few days away.


 

Toronto’s hidden jewel – highlighting the mundane but essential function that makes cities possible

One of Canada’s most spectacular public works and a tour de force of architecture lies at 2701 Queen St. E. in Scarborough, Ontario.  Providing the essence of survival to at least 35% of Torontonians, it is a marvel of engineering and produces drinking, bathing and cooking water to residents who don’t give its easy access a second thought.

What would happen if you couldn’t bathe, shave, have tea in the morning or flush your toilet….  Pandemonium, that’s what!  Something that we take for granted in our privileged lives…the simple act of having water!

Toronto’s main treatment plant, the R. C. Harris buildings produce around 35% of the city’s water.  Lake Ontario water is treated with a coagulant and pumped on top of several beds (water basins) which are covered in charcoal. The water filters down the charcoal and the successively coarser layers of rock underneath it, until it reaches an underground reservoir. Chemicals are added then, mainly fluoride and chlorine, the treated water sits in the basins for several hours allowing sediment to sink to the bottom, then it is treated with more filtering and presto bango bingo, water is delivered to almost a third of the citizens of Toronto.

  • Produces more than 120,000 million litres of water annually
  • Can produce 950 million litres daily

I would like to pay tribute to the man who built this ‘Palace of Purification’ for whom the building was named…Roland Caldwell Harris, Toronto’s commissioner of public works from 1912 until 1945. The water plant, and other Toronto landmarks such as the Bloor Street viaduct, were built during his tenure.  Architect Thomas Canfield Pomphrey designed the plant, that was built in phases throughout the 1930s in the art deco style opening in 1941.

The pumps in the low-lift room, seen from the gallery at the west end of the room, deliver raw water to the Filter Building for treatment.  Each pump is numbered; the elaborate limestone signal panel indicates which pumps are operating

The use of rich materials like marble and bronze in the interior (plus the extensive limestone carvings on the exterior helped earn the nickname “Palace of Purification”.

If you are ever in Toronto for an extended visit and have the time, you should definitely have a picnic on the grounds and inspect the many buildings comprising the plant.  It is incredible.

For a previous post on water, see the ‘essence of life’.  For a flash to the past, check out this video which really has nothing to do with the subject of this piece but I played it endlessly when travelling through Europe in 1986.

The advent of air travel

As my father-in-law who is 89 years young just returned from a tropical vacation and was complaining about the delay not only in leaving Toronto but arriving back a week later, and still quite irked by the lack of concern by the airline, I thought I’d take a moment and remind people that commercial flight has only been around just over 100 years — 105 to be precise as the first commercial flight for an airline was in 1914 with one paying passenger.

By the 1930’s air travel had exploded when the number of people using airplanes to travel shot from 6,000 annually in 1930 to over 1.2 million by 1938.  Today well over 3 billion people travel by plane on a daily basis.  What are the odds that there won’t be a delay somewhere with that amount of travelers.  I always write off the first day of the vacation and the return home and if everything goes well, then that is a bonus.

We can complain a lot about the cost of flying, the cost of fuel and the absence of meals on flights but if you were flying from London, England to Australia back then it would take 11 days to complete with 24 scheduled stops to refuel for the staggering amount of $20,000 dollars.  So more for the rich and famous then the average Joe.  Nowadays this flight would be about 22 hours for less than $2,000 return.  Mind you, you can fit a lot more people on a modern plane.

An average ticket for a flight could cost 1/2 the price of a brand new car (approx. $600-$800 dollars).  The price of a house meanwhile was about $4,000.00.  Passengers also had to worry about permanently losing their hearing due to the noise of the engines and their lunch with unexpected sharp drops of 100 feet or so throughout the flight.

KLM is the self-proclaimed oldest airline in the world. It is also the world’s oldest continually operating airline under the same name. Founded on October 7, 1919, KLM made its first scheduled flight between London and Amsterdam in 1920.

The first flight attendants were male stewards who loaded luggage, reassured nervous passengers and issued refunds or helped people around the cabin.  By the late 1920’s, Pan-American Airways, which flew over water, required extensive first aid and seamanship training for its steward trainees.  The first female attendants or stewardesses were introduced in May of 1930.

Next time you find yourself at the airport waiting an extra four or six hours to depart because the airline didn’t notify you of any delays when you phoned at 5:30 am to take the airporter there and you could have used the extra three hours sleep, stay cool, you can meet a lot of nice people at the airport and what good does it do getting your panties all in a bunch anyways (or knickers in a twist if you’re from England). Till the next time, happy trails!Panties in a bunch pink