Old news to me

She’s tireless in working for the environment, but my sister Joni is not one to blow her own horn. I just found out about this and asked for pictures.

Twenty six years have passed since Joni received a Governor General’s Award for her community work. She helped to get a park established and opened up trails for public use.

So this is a shoutout to Ray Hnatyshyn for recognizing Joni. He was Canada’s Governor General in 1992. One for for young David Suzuki, too,  who followed up with a postcard.

I asked Joni about Suzuki’s reference to “Walker’s statements” and she replied:

“He was disgusted that US researchers left a Grizzly trap when they left Canada.
A bear was caught and died as a result. There was a conference about it that I filmed.”


Housing? What about affordable painting?

John Robert Colombo called my attention to this 1991 painting by Peter Doig. It sold for around $12 million dollars at auction in 2013. The Toronto house in the picture sold for $5 million in 2010.

The Architect’s Home in the Ravine

When art becomes a toy for rich people, monetary value becomes meaningless, but prices still grab headlines.

Nonsense aside, I like the painting. It’s a deft rendering of a familiar visual experience in our city … screens of bare twigs and branches in front of sub-horizon views. In Vancouver, you look up to see the mountains. In Toronto, you look down into the ravines.

Thank you, JRC, for the item and your researched facts about the house: […] “designed and built in the modernist manner in the 1960s at 11 Beaumont Road in Toronto’s Rosedale Ravine by the architect Eberhard Zeidler for his family’s use.”

A slice of Google pie

We went downtown on the bus, to remind ourselves that the future is far, far away, down bumpy roads. It’s open season on cyclists in Toronto, or we might have ridden our bikes.

Google’s Sidewalk Labs announced a $50,000,000 pilot project in downtown Toronto, to explore and experiment with ideas for building neighbourhoods “from the internet up”. You know … smart stuff, innovative stuff.

Today was the first of a series of public displays in the triangular intersection bounded by Lakeshore Boulevard Parliament Street and Small Street … at the eastern end of Queen’s Quay.

Understandably keen to avoid being taken for an Ugly American invader, Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff entertained us with an opening statement that the company’s approach was “remarkably humble”. Not just humble, remarkably humble. He meant that the public could have a say, and nothing is set in concrete, so to speak.

If my tone sounds skeptical, I’m just having a bit of fun. In fact, I hope some good ideas about humane urban development do come out of the project. The small team of innovators seems motivated, energetic and enthusiastic. The attending public was generally young, interested and involved.

Most creative idea: The turned S, that turns invisible.

Respect for a Dad

The Rideau Club is an exclusive gathering place for Ottawa politicians, socialites and business biggies. John Robert Colombo’s son was there to see a client and spotted something featured in the library display.

No, not the tissues and hand sanitizer … the red book.

A proud moment, to be sure … recorded and shared by son to father. Of course, JRC is no stranger to such surroundings, having an Order of Canada membership among his many honours.

Danica, the talent scout

When I declared that my roof-climbing days were behind me, Danica set out on a neighbourhood walk to find a workman to fix our downspout. There is plenty of clean-up going on around here, after the storm.

Sure enough, she found a guy but he looked at the roof and didn’t want to go up. I said it looked too risky for me, now that I’m 73. He said, “I’m 69”.

One last tree picture

The Smith house, 3 doors down from us, was a bit of a media star, with the big tree leaning on their roof and the neatly up-tipped front yard.

The tree is gone now and inspections for structural damage are taking place. A block over, on Bellhaven, neighbours will be evacuated from their semi for at least 3 months. A back yard oak tree crushed their second floor. The tree was removed in sections by a crane with a scale. One section weighed 11,000 lbs.

OK, enough with the trees. The debris will be with us until city crews eventually show up, but I can clear the branches from my blog right now.

Happy about our back fence

Until about an hour before the storm struck, Danica and I were working on the red fence, giving it some new boards and fresh paint.

When Danica said that a big branch had hit the back fence, my heart fell. Days of hard work, crushed? But no. It was the fence on the other side … the one I recently braced with new posts. It stood up to the blow! Only some lattice on top needs replacing.

The force of that branch was enough to break two 2×6 rafters on the carport, so I am pretty proud of my fence post reinforcements. Look at the clobbering a neighbour’s Volvo got from a similar branch.

Time to finish painting the red fence, then work on those broken rafters. I’ll get help to reattach our downspout. Roof climbing days are behind me.


The phone number was given to me when I called the city 311 line to report downed telephone lines in our back yard. Try it for a laugh.

Our power was out for 24 hours and our internet signal remains too weak to do a proper post. More will follow, but damage was minimal (for us) and no one in the vicinity was injured by a micro-burst mini tornado that took down 3 mature trees across the street and shattered 2 telephone poles.

We lost a huge limb from our backyard maple, but it fell between the house and garage. Two carport rafters are broken and a section of fence needs fixing.