Budapest can’t open on Canada Day

The kitchen is so close to finished, it could have been creating meals within hours, but the gas man never showed to hook up the line.


Without a stove, there’s no way Lorie and Edit can open, of course. When will the Prince of Tradesmen make his appearance? Who knows? Maybe later this week.

The liquor licence will take a while, too. The notice says people have until July 26th to challenge the application. That’s very unlikely, but how long will the bureaucracy take to issue the licence after July 26th? Another question mark.


An early Helen Andersen oil discovered


“Annabelle” by Helen Andersen  — Early 1960s, Oil on canvas

A keen-eyed shopper (whose name I won’t reveal until I have permission) found “Annabelle” in a Victoria thrift store. The purchaser has been in touch and sent a snapshot for me to see. I worked on that photo a bit to even out the lighting and Photoshopped the canvas into a simple frame.

We don’t have dimensions yet and a better photograph will be taken, but this is enough for identification. There was even a faint “Andy” signature (still visible) under the later signature Helen added. She “updated” her signature on many pieces.

My sister Joni remembers “Annabelle” as having been painted when our family lived on College Highroad in Vancouver’s UBC area. Helen must have kept it in her personal collection until her death in 1995. When her husband died in 2005, quite a few pieces were dispersed to parts unknown. It’s amazing that “Annabelle” has survived all these years. Researching the artist, the new owner found Helen’s website and got in touch with me.

I’m sure there will be more to this story.


The Pantry Project

pantry-racksOK, they won’t look like much to you, but they represent quite a few messy hours of my life and they should bring some joy to Danica.

These wire racks will soon be filled with cans and packages, stored handily on the tiny landing at the top of our basement stairs.

I first installed them over 20 years ago and the idea was swiped by an observant neighbour, so it has an accepted history as a good use of dead space.

Twenty years! It was definitely time to repaint, patch and put in new baseboards.

A new door goes on next. I had cut a cat hole into the old one. It has been there as a Spunky Mae Memorial for a decade, but it’s time to move on.

Our long, wet, fragrant Spring


I’m happy that I can’t photograph the beautiful scents of blossoms. We get too many of our sensations through screens these days, and they are pale imitations of reality.

For all the moaning about this year’s cool, rainy weather, one benefit stands out. The city streets are permeated with floral scents of blooms that seem to love the conditions. Haven’t they lasted longer and made more perfume this year?

Anything special about July 4th?

Of course! It’s the Saturday opening of Andrew Horne’s show at the Flying Pony Gallery/Café.
Typecast Landscapes — Opening reception July 4th, 6pm to 9pm. Show runs to August 28.

andrew's-paletteCreative storm centre. Andrew’s studio behind the café looks exactly as it should.

The artist-proprietor of my favourite coffee place has been working hard for the past 3 months, completing 7 big, new canvases. Where he usually displays a wide variety of works by other artists, Andrew Horne will soon be filling the walls with his own colourful, accomplished painting.


The painting on the easel at the time of shooting is now finished. It’s a painterly riff on the internet and the way it has altered memory, turning the past into the immediate present. Interpretative room is left for viewers, but most of us will recognize the iconography readily enough. Cubists flattened space, Horne flattens time in this one.

Many of the new paintings continue Horne’s success with incredible renderings of neon signs and roadside buildings. Often, he has depicted neon signs unlit, concentrating on textures and cast shadows. In one of the new ones, he tackles the particularly difficult problem of capturing illuminated neon at twilight. You know that brief, magic time when the sky and manmade lights are nearly equal? This can’t be easy to pull off, but Horne gets it in a piece called Liquor Alight – Acrylic on canvas 48″ x 36″. It’s the one featuring the sign for Wines Liquors Beer. Of course, the effect is easier to appreciate on the actual painting. Screens don’t really do it justice.

The show’s name “Typecast Landscapes” alludes not only to familiar images as subject matter, but also to Horne’s fascination (and skill) with hand lettering. If you visit the café, you’ll see his handiwork on the floors and furnishings. Worth a visit. Good coffee and fresh baked goods, too.

Old meets new: Crunch!

If it weren’t for bad luck, the TTC wouldn’t have any luck at all. Today’s Queen’s Quay crunch is especially embarrassing. The older car tried to turn before the new, super-long streetcar had cleared the intersection.

Danica foresees disaster when the long cars try to cross the Lakeshore at Leslie. If Queen’s Quay says anything, she’s going to be right. TTC. Toronto Traffic Crime.

So how many of the showpiece streetcars were we supposed to have running by Pan Am Games time? Fifty? How many has Bombardier managed to deliver? Five or six? Well, scratch one.

The funny thing is seeing TTC vehicles unable to negotiate the new Queen’s Quay route. I have been watching the chaos caused by confused car drivers. Somehow the traffic experts have created a mess on our newly celebrated waterfront way. Don’t they make little models or something before they pour the concrete?

“Kissing cars” photo by CBC

Budapest Restaurant update


The new sign was sitting inside on the floor but it’s probably up today. The cooking equipment has arrived … stove, fryer, microwaves … ready for hook up. Big refrigeration units are there, too, so the kitchen is just about ready to go.

Everything is still set for a July 1st opening. It will be a “soft opening”, not an attempt to draw large crowds. A real “Grand Opening” announcement can wait until all the little details are running smoothly. Lorie and Edit plan full, 8:00am to 10:00pm service from Day One, though. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Should I be offended?


If he was just waving me off because he’s sick of having his picture taken, I can understand that. He must be one of the most photographed birds in Toronto and we papparazzi are a nuisance. If the swan leg lift means something nastier, I guess that’s understandable, too.

Anyway. I was happy to see him by Woodbine Pond today. His mate is probably in the nearby reeds, sitting on eggs.