Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lithuanian House Metrolinx Open House

The Clean Train Coalition website is up, here's the link.

Just got back from the Metrolinx Open House in our area tonight, there was a great turn out of people living all along the corridor, and it looked like the Metrolinx folks were a bit overwhelmed by all our questions and comments. They had lots of displays but not a lot of hard information, couldn't give a straight answer about how many new tracks were being built, couldn't tell us what the noise and vibration levels were going to be, or how much air pollution more than 450 diesel trains a day would spew in our neighbourhood. Said they could tell us in a couple of months, at the next round of Open Houses. Not reassuring.

Gretel said a lot of people she talked to were holding off on renovations, thinking it might be time to sell rather than stay, and Catherine my realty friend says she wants to go door-to-door and talk to some of the Portuguese residents to get them to realize how big a deal this is. Sandra's worried about the groundhogs and 'possums that live along the tracks and come into her backyard, they may not be rare and endangered but they're all we've got in the way of wildlife.

But the place was packed and all the Metrolinx representatives had crowds of people peppering them with questions. I think it was a good start.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The dog ladies meet again

This weekend has been blur.

Healthwise, not so great, a gum infection compounded by a sinus infection, leaving me quite lacking in energy and focus. I think it's getting better, but hard to tell, it's so damn gradual.

Friday and Saturday felt like summer was just around the corner, it was so warm! But today, Sunday, it's back to cool and windy, I almost put my winter coat on to take Dobby for a walk. The daffodils and forsythia are in bloom and there are green lawns everywhere, so it does feel like spring is well underway. The chirping robins confirm it!

My main activity though has been editing and writing documents for the Clean Train Coalition, the newly formed organization to fight the diesel train invasion. The first document was a short "FAQ" that will be printed up in brochure format. This was started on Friday and completed today, all by email between about five people, including myself.

The next document was something called a Backgrounder, I'm not sure how to describe it, which is odd because I wrote it (the first draft of it I mean). I just sat down this afternoon and wrote a two page outline and then five pages of text, pretty much non-stop. Then I posted it on a website where it will be available for other people to edit. It is supposed to end up as a three page document, which means it is going to need some serious editing. I am too brain-dead to tackle it tonight, the others can spill all the red ink on it that they care to.

In the meantime a couple of other people are preparing a long FAQ, an expansion of the short one we wrote this weekend. Looking at what they've produced so far, there's quite a bit of overlap with the Backgrounder, so hopefully my document can be cut down to size without losing any crucial information.

The Coalition website is not up yet, when it is I'll post a link to it.

It's been quite interesting doing this, I've learned a lot about diesel locomotives and local politics. This whole thing is politics, there's stimulus money out there, lots of people want to get their hands on it, projects are being put together in a hurry with a skim of language about "greening" the city, "climate change", "world class city", and so forth, and pushed through environmental assessments and public consultations all in the name of getting that stimulus money. As for diesel, well, don't get me going!

On Saturday, Isaac, Gretel, the kids and I all went to see a dress rehearsal of Roseneath Theatre's Rocket and the Queen of Dreams. Quite an amazing play, a mix of actors, puppets and shadow puppetry. A very imaginative story about a child who is afraid to go to sleep because of bad dreams. It seemed quite long, but all the children in the audience were quite entranced by the amazing puppetry, no one fidgeted at all.

After the production there was quite a long Q and A with the actors, the children were fascinated by the behind-the-scene details. Later, the workings of all the puppets and scene changes were exposed and the kids examined every inch of it. This play is being taken on tour to many schools, I am impressed that they can pack and unpack such an intricate setup at many different locations.

Last Monday night I went to a potluck dinner at a neighbour's, Fatima's place. Same place the dog ladies had their party last January. In fact, pretty much the same cast of characters, all dog ladies. There were five of us: Fatima (Alpy), Sandra (Chico), Grace (Indie), Catherine (Dylan) and me (Dobby). Dinner was salmon and pasta, asparagus, fresh greens and feta salad, and Blackbottom Cupcakes (I made them from the recipe that Gretel made my birthday cupcakes from, it's in the latest Joy of Cooking).

And six bottles of wine. Not only did we drink all six bottles, but then after everybody else left, Fatima and I got into her bottle of Calvados. Oh my. I have not had a shot of Calva in a very long time.

But we had a great time, laughed ourselves silly and apparently I agreed to buy a house in Brazil and invite everyone down to stay. Or so I'm told.

Fatima just had an operation and is taking six weeks sick leave to recuperate. She spent a couple of weeks getting her strength back and now she's ready for Stage Two of her recovery: two weeks of eating and drinking and laying around in the south of France. She's not allowed to lift anything so she's taking along a friend who must tote all her baggage.

So the next day all of us were thoroughly hung over. I was supposed to go to the McMichael Gallery with Zach, but I could barely stand up for more than five minutes without getting nauseous so I had to cancel. And of course Zach told everyone in the dogpark so when I showed up there in the evening a half dozen or so dog owners were laughing at me.

The next day after that the gum infection kicked in and I had to cancel out of my weaving and carving classes, not to mention the public meeting about the diesel invasion. And I am sure the sinus infection can probably be blamed on this train of events as well. Last night I broke out the whiskey to treat the gum infection with, it appears to have done some good.

But I haven't knitted a thing all week.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Brockton diesel

There was a public meeting on Wednesday night about the Metrolinx project going through our neighbourhood. On the face of it, a good thing, much-needed expansion of the GO Transit system and an infusion of provincial (and presumably federal as well) money to expedite the project. But there are troubling aspects to it, principally the commitment to diesel-powered trains that will spew diesel fumes through our neighbouhood all day every day, and the lack of local stations so that we can take advantage of this transit corridor. The meeting was actually not a Metrolinx meeting and no Metrolinx officials attended, it was organized locally as an information session to get local folks up to speed on what was happening and, if warranted, stir up some concerned action to get Metrolinx to pay attention to our concerns. Other neighbourhoods along the route are also gearing up for some kind of political action on the matter.

I couldn't go because I was sick, but I did talk to some neighbours the next day at the dogpark. The consensus seems to be that this is going to have a horrific effect on the neighbourhood, the project is being speedily pushed through and there is little hope of fighting it, and some people are even talking about selling their homes and moving away in anticipation of the worst. There is a 6-month Environmental Assessment period before it is a done deal, and already one month of the six has passed, so if there is going to be any fighting it, it has to happen immediately. An official Metrolinx public session is happening next week so we are all urged to show up and let Metrolinx know that, Houston, we have a problem.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Birthday socks

Three Four out of the four five people living in this house have spring birthdays: Phelan (March), myself and Gretel (April), and Isaac (May). This past weekend it was Gretel's birthday.

I knit a pair of socks for her birthday.

I made her stand on a stool by the kitchen window to model them, so I could take a photo with natural light.

Phelan really likes the socks.

Tristan made beaded hair barrettes for her, in her favourite colours, green, brown and red.

His idea, his work, with a little help from Dad.

It was interesting knitting these socks, the variegated yarn made interesting patterns.

I used a heavier yarn than usual so they went really fast. I'm thinking that once I use up all my sock yarn I may just switch to the sports weight yarn because it knits up so fast and still looks and feels good.

Today is Josh's birthday, Happy Birthday Josh!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sanity return

Yesterday was my birthday, I am 61 now.

The flowers are a birthday present from my brother Peter who lives just outside Victoria, B.C. The flowers are growing in Peter and Pat's backyard.

[By comparison, it snowed here yesterday, in our front yard we have a few very brave crocuses in a sea of mud and snow.]

We had a great mushroom and asparagus risotto (Isaac made it), salad (Gretel), and chocolate cupcakes with candles (Tristan and Gretel).

The same famous cupcake recipe from Phelan's panpank party, yum yum!

Tristan presented me with two birthday gifts: two birds-eye maple spoons for coffee and sugar, and a glass ornament that looks like an elongated teardrop. It's bright green and is meant to hang in the window and catch the sunlight.

Click on the photo for a better view, they are really quite gorgeous.

Josh and Sam phoned me, Tim says he intended to phone but never quite made it, finally sent me an email saying call him if I was still up and at 11.50pm I did.

Last year I went regularly to a knitting group at the Parkdale Library, the Fabulous Parkdale Knitters. This group was started by Laurie, a retired nurse living at Westlodge Seniors Residence just down the road from the library.

One evening, she was talking about a friend who is coming up on his 81st birthday. She was knitting socks for his birthday present. What she said was that she was glad he was turning 81 because that meant he was finally coming out of his Year of Madness.

We all looked at her. Wha-at?

Oh you know, Laurie says, You're always crazy for a year when you hit one of those decade anniversaries, 40, 50, 60, ...but when you turn 41/51/61, you're back to normal again!

We all looked at each other. Of course. Those decade anniversaries seem so momentous, such big turning points in our lives, of course we're crazy. Then at umty-one it's just another birthday, just another year, you can be sane again.

So I'm sane again.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Around the neighbourhood...

These are some leftover photos from previous posts.

This one is another mural on a building near the Parkdale Library on Queen Street. The building is an old factory converted to loft apartments.

A close-up of the mural (click on it to enlarge).

Queen Street bay windows.

Another Queen Street building.

Little boy driving a car, big boy riding a skate board...

...and attempted car jacking in the 'hood.

At the dogpark, Dobby, Yuki, Titus and onlookers...

Dobby and Yuki boxing

Look over there!

Yuki is required to wear a halty at all times, not because she is vicious (au contraire, a very sweet dog!) but because she is hard on other dogs, having a very dominant nature.