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Doors Open: Lunch Break

Danica and I have returned many times to the Free Times Café since we were first introduced to it by John Robert and Ruth Colombo.

Today, it was very handy, just around the corner from our first Doors Open stop. We got a window booth (with the windows open), listened to live acoustic music and Bob Dylan songs coming from the back room and enjoyed the always delicious Saturday brunch offerings.

Free Times Café is on the north side of College, a couple of blocks west of Spadina.

Robarts Library: Rare Books

Doors Open 2017: Door Number Two Fisher Rare Books Library inside the Robarts Library on St George Street, U of T campus

Slide show


 There is a Hollywood, over-the-top theatricality about the Robarts Library that extends to the interior and the Fisher Rare Book Library.

The exterior is pure brutalism. Inside, rare books are sensibly kept in climate controlled space and dim light, but this has afforded and opportunity for stage-lighting effects.

The Bard wasn’t looking too impressed. I’m inclined to feel the same way, about the architecture.

The collection, though, seemss important and worthy of careful preservation. In the pieces on display, Danica drew my attention to parliamentary debates, documenting Sir John A’s unabashed racism toward Chinese immigrants.

From the many to the few …

THANK YOU! to the Beach Hill volunteers who got out onto Gerrard Street today, to clean and plant the sidewalk tree wells. They look wonderful.

All Danica and I contributed this year was our membership money to buy plants. I hope I get the chance to do more, next time. Planting Day and Doors Open Day collided, this year.

The plantings make our main street attractive and distinct. Gardeners, you’ve made a big contribution to the neighbourhood. If we want to keep this going, more of us are going to have to dig in, with you.

Carpet bagged

We were hunting for a new (well… not new, semi-antique) Persian carpet and found exactly what we wanted behind a store front that was nothing like its sumptuous interior.

Pealac Rug is at 815 Broadview Avenue, just north of the Danforth.

Inside, the quiet is amazing, thanks to the hanging carpets. I wish some eateries would catch onto this opportunity to muffle clatter. Persian carpets are not as sought-after as they once were, so prices are correspondingly better. And just look at the richness of colour and pattern!

Yeah, yeah … I know. Politics and extremism. All that takes nothing away from these handmade lovelies.

If you happen to visit Pealac Rug, you will meet Nima, the owner. He is helpful, knowledgeable and a good listener. He also happens to have a Master’s degree in philosophy, but don’t worry. He’s very easy to talk to.

I found the place through this BlogTO write-up.

Kew Gardens: Orange theme

Two colours jump out at you in Kew Gardens, after all the heavy rain. The GREEN! really makes the orange pop. Orange is the colour of flood mitigation … and a few hardy tulips.


 City crews are doing what they can to control water flow, saving the bandstand and making the playing field useable … perhaps by July, they say.

More lake, less beach

Enjoy a front row seat at rising Lake Ontario.

Slide show A walk this morning

Google’s buggy software

My aptly initialled friend IMP sent a photo captioned At the Car Wash in Elmira with a plea to blog it and a threat of consequences if I didn’t.

Shall I respond to IMP’s threat the way Oscar Wilde suggested dealing with temptation … that is, simply give in? OK, but I have to go further.

The photo was too small for my blog and, suspecting that there might be larger copies posted online, I used Google’s search by image tool, uploading the small image to look for similar ones. Bingo! I found one much bigger.

I also found that our horse-washing hero is both Amish and Mennonite and lives, not only in Elmira, Ontario but in Geauga County, Ohio.

Alpaca shearing in Salmo

For 2 days, I have been trying to get an old printer to work. Not very interesting blog material, so when my sister Joni said she had been to an alpaca shearing today, I asked for pictures. I’m really glad I did.

Thanks, Joni. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. 😀

Joni’s notes:
Alpacas are a very special breed. The fibre is amazing, and has qualities wool does not. It is not itchy.

You can see the range of colours. Males were easier to shear than females. There is a pressure point on the ear that relaxes the animals. If you stare at them they will spit.

Time to roll them out

It has been 8 months since I posted a teaser, suggesting a breaking story on Chinese manufacture of Wagnerian breastplates. It’s time we heard the fat lady sing.

Moulds for the “cups” being readied in China, but not for opera.

Friend Peter Sever has been developing these hand guards for Honda Goldwing motorcycles for two or three years now. I feel privileged to have had a “front row seat” via email exchanges and hands-on viewings, from initial concepts, through mockups, to finished product.

Beautiful, aren’t they?

Peter will tell you how well they are made. I will praise the maker. First, his credentials are impeccable. He rode his Goldwing all the way around the world, between 2008 and 2010. Practical experience, in every kind of condition imaginable. [See Wheezyrider.com]

Knowing the need for decent hand guards, but unable to find any good ones to buy, Peter began to develop his own, two or three years ago. He made rough prototypes first, to figure out attachment possibilities, then had CAD (Computer Assisted Design) files made. After much tweaking, it was time for real prototypes, made on a 3D printer. Can you imagine a better way to become educated about the state of contemporary manufacturing?

At last, steel injection moulds could be made … in China. Economics demanded that choice. The patience and attention to detail required was eye-opening. We consumers take a lot for granted. Samples made from the moulds needed adjustment, then more adjustment. Peter even flew to China once, to mother the project along. More time and money.

All this has only been about the hard plastic shell. Peter also had to dive onto Alibaba, to shop the world for his stainless steel fittings, work out packaging and shipping details and develop marketing materials. Can you see why I’m impressed? He has dipped into all kinds of modern technology, using hired talent when required, but doing an amazing amount of the work himself. ThePerfectRide website and videos? Made, shot and edited by Peter.

He used a free Sketchfab account to host this 3D interactive drawing, too.

Move the image around with your mouse or touch. You can zoom in and out with your mouse wheel.