Main Sewage Treatment Playground/Pumphouse Park

Catchy name for a park, eh? This is a second pumphouse building, posing prettily next to the older, brick pumphouse I would like to see turned into studio space for artists.

Although the design screams 1960s to me, this pumphouse was built in 1975.

The marshy flats around Ashbridges Bay have a history with sewage dating back into the 1800s. We are still working on it. Major upgrade constuction has been going on for a couple of years and will continue for at least two more.

Skateboarding pit on the north side of Lakeshore Blvd. East. Background: Water tower and sewage infrastructure.

Grassy sports fields made up most of the park until a skateboarding park took over the corner section at Coxwell and Lakeshore. It’s a popular facility in warm weather, offering urban concrete challenges like curbs and rails to jump and skate.

Lakeshore Boulevard traffic masks the clatter of skateboards in summertime.

Across the boulevard, gulls gather on their own hard surfaces, provided at no cost to taxpayers by winter temperatures.

Mallards and geese were introduced to the area by people, but gulls find us without help.

Can you see what I’m doing?

I’m assuming that you can make out the difference between the vertical band on the right and the rest of the painting I am cleaning. If you can’t see a difference, I have wasted about 3 hours, dabbing away with make-up removal pads.

The camera “cleans” the uncleaned part, making it look brighter than it actually appears, but the contrast still shows, even though it’s subtle.

9″x12″ oil on panel, purchased at auction by a friend. The paint is thoughly dry and hard. Click image to enlarge.

Don’t try this on watercolours or other water-soluble pictures, obviously. 🙂

The painting appears to have been varnished, so all I have to do is remove the film of dirt (and probably cigarette smoke) from the surface. I am doing it slowly and carefully, by dabbing the surface with cotton make-up pads (dollar store), dampened with room temperature water that contains a few drops of Murphy Oil Soap.

The trick is to dab and lift away, never rubbing. I discard the pad as soon as each side has been used once, so as not to return the dirt to the painting. I go through a LOT of pads. When the painting looks clean, I repeat the whole process, dampening pads lightly with clear water , then pad-patting dry to remove all traces of the soapy water.

Paintings on panel are quite safe to work on, because there’s no flex to pop paint loose. The oil paint is decades old, so I know it is throughly dry. I smile thinking that the cleaning will probably take longer than the artist spent painting the piece.

Nevertheless, it’s a nice little oil and the cleaning is a pleasant winter pastime while listening to the radio. If you try it, go slow and be gentle. Take breaks. Do it over a few days. Do it systematically, so you can see where you left off. I use a straight edge of clean cardboard to keep my edge defined as I move across.

My iPad as a real computer

That’s the Raspberry Pi desktop displayed on my iPad screen. I can control the credit card size Linux computer with my iPad touch screen from anywhere in the house (ie: the couch 😀) and send commands to it.

My iPad cover has a built-in keyboard … a mini laptop with great battery life.

“Big deal”, I hear you thinking. Yes, it is. For about $120, my birthday present Rasperry Pi (thank you, Danica!) gives me access to thousands of free, open source apps. The operating system, Raspian, is also free … a variant of the Linux OS that about half of the internet is running on.

The aluminum heat sink case added $17 to the price, but it’s needed. $122.50 plus tax.

I don’t expect to create anything on it that I can’t make on my Mac, but I do hope to use it for learning more about computers and programming languages. There are also many inexpensive add-ons that can give it camera powers, night vision, and sound recording, for example. Maybe I’ll roll my own robot and have it make peanut butter sandwiches.

To celebrate, I took my iPad out for a spin … around the Heart Show at Gerrard Art Space.

The show is up until Feb. 16. There are bargains.

An amazing Grace

Ella Grace’s website says she is 8 years old, but I think the internationally acclaimed environmental activist is 9. Her grandfather Blair Rossen ought to know. Blair, Brian Hickey and I enjoyed a superb lunch today at Maha’s.

She gave her first conference address at the age of 7, to great applause.

Blair pointed us to Ella’s accomplishments and spoke proudly about his granddaughter’s oceanic expertise. She knows enough about sharks to be able to correct experts if they misidentify a species. She’s soon to be a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and crusades to save our oceans in a film being shot on locations around the world.

I feel connected. Danica and I were at dinner with Blair and Louise some (ahem) years ago. Louise didn’t have much of an appetite because, as it turned out, she was pregnant with their first daughter Katie … Ella’s mother!

Blair, Brian and I used to work together in advertising. Brian and I are retired. Only Blair (the kid) is still working at the company he founded, Keystone Studios. Blair is a Force of Nature himself. He introduced me to Paul Royko, of Royko’s Recipes (top menu bar).

Nothing has happened, but could

Turning 75 has made me aware of my vulnerability as an old dude on Toronto’s streets. Nothing has really changed, I just suddenly feel that it is imprudent to be outside on the streets, alone, after dark.

Rembrandt as an old guy … a painting with a dead funny story.

Some of my fellow citizens see me as easy prey. How smart is it, to be strutting the streets as if no one cares what I have in my pockets? I might be carrying cash, cards or electronics worth grabbing.

If I could be confident that a mugger would let me hand over my valuables in a peaceful transaction, that would be tolerable. I know, though, that there’s no such guarantee of civility.

I quoted Robbie Burns recently, about the wish to see ourselves as others see us. Recognizing oneself as a relatively defenceless target is not flattering, but it is a gift. I think I will confine my solo walking to daylight hours.