Friday, January 25, 2013

Nature's Veil

Hope is nature's veil for hiding truth's nakedness.
Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist, engineer and prize benefactor (1833-1896)

Like a bride running down a hill, her veil tight across her face as it streams in the breeze, tonight's train steamed headlong into a snowstorm, sheathing the passenger's view in lacy white. The world on the other side of the window looked magical, but I was quite glad to be riding this bride-train rather than navigating ungroomed roads. Although nature's veil was beautiful, it could not conceal completely the naked truth of winter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snowy Commuter Prints

I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
Mae West, American actress and playwright (1893-1980)

This was a morning to have a belly full of warm, nourishing oatmeal before exiting the subway station. When the train pulled out of the hometown station this morning there wasn't a flake of snow to be seen; and this was so to within a mile of my destination. Somewhere after Exhibition Park, the train and I entered a different world. Outside, my footprints left their mark among those of thousands of other commuters -- all of us marking our trail to work. The snow served to define us as a community.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Those Were the Days!

Every great architect is - necessarily - a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.
Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect/poet (1867-1959)

I had an unexpected encounter with poetical architecture today as I chanced to look up as I entered the stationery store for some needed office supplies. Long-eared and winged creatures smiled so benignly down on me that I couldn't help but to smile back. Inside, the shop clerk didn't know much about the building's history but a little Internet research revealed that Merle Foster designed the columns for the new Pierce-Arrow automobile showroom that opened here in 1930. The Pierce-Arrow, being the Porsche or Lambourghini of its day, required an elegant storefront in Toronto's fashionable Summer Hill district. Foster's Atlas-like youth holds a winged automobile tire in his right hand, reflecting Pierce-Arrow's stylish hood ornament. Meanwhile, the youth's left hand cradles one of the fine vintage automobiles on his lap.

Unfortunately, the company closed as a result of the Depression. Yet, the building holds further historical importance as it became the home of Mr. Dressup after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation moved into the building in 1954. I am one of numerous generations of children that grew up watching Mr. Dressup, Cassey, and Finnegan joining them in their tree-house in our technicolour imaginations even though the television image was only black-and-white. Those were the days, my friends!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Everything has beauty,
but not everyone sees it.
Confucius, Chinese philosopher (551–479 BCE)

Touring my future job site, which is currently a construction site, I looked upwards into the rafters and beheld the beauty of the wiring ducts crisscrossing in symmetrical harmony. I wonder if the electrical engineer who drew the lines on the plan or the technicians who installed the ducts stood back and admired their artistry? I certainly did.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Go Shuffle

As Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert argues, "You can't adapt to commuting, because it's entirely unpredictable. Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day."
Tom Vanderbilt, American author in Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do

And so the commute begins. Door-to-door it works out to be two hours travel time each way, almost to the minute. This time of year there isn't much to see out the window during those hours because it's dark out, going and returning. But I could see the string of red tail lights of the cars heading into the city and I was so very thankful to be on the train and not caught up in the angst of rush-hour driving.

Mine is a long journey, but painless. I can sip my coffee, read the news and write a few emails on the way to work. The return trip did remind me of my days commuting in Cairo squished cheek-by-jowl in the women's Metro car. However, everything is much cleaner here and, in some wonder of Canadian physics, no one touched their neighbouring commuter even though we were crammed into the car.

And the job? It's great! The boss and my new colleagues are an amazingly talented and friendly group of people. To have the opportunity to work with them I am happy doing the Go shuffle to the big Tee-Oh.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Breakfast on the Go

Instead of telling the world what you're eating for breakfast, you can use social networking to do something that's meaningful.
Edward Norton, American actor, director, social activist

I know I should be writing something much more meaningful in my post, particularly since I've been M.I.A. for several days now, but let's pretend that what I will be eating for breakfast is, in fact, meaningful because it offers a suggestion for others like me who are not good about starting their day with nutrition. Caffeine, yes; nutrition, no.

Come Monday morning I begin my five-day-a-week commute to the big city, Tee-Oh. I've been busy all week organizing clothing, backpack, lunch bag, transit pass, Internet connection, water bottle, coffee thermos, haircut, and manicure. This employment thing is a big deal, not to mention a major adjustment for someone who has been setting her own schedule for years now. As of Monday morning, I am waking up to a 5:30 A.M. alarm. Ugg!

Not being a morning person nor a breakfast person, but knowing that I'll need some nutrition to keep my body functioning during the office's busiest hours, I've been pondering what I could eat during the morning commute on the Go train. I found Breakfast Bars on Nigella Lawson's (aka "The Domestic Goddess") website and Breakfast in a Cookie on Canadian Living's website. Both are packed full of good things like oats, nuts, seeds, fruit and no added sugar. They may not provide the best of healthy balanced breakfasts but they mark a starting point on which I can build.

So ends my public service announcement.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reflecting Light

I am not the light or the source of light. But light -- truth, understanding, knowledge -- is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.
Alexander Papaderos, Greek philosopher 

On this Epiphany, six churches gathered together to worship the Light. When the Reverend Andy paraphrased John 8:12 for the children saying, "Jesus said, 'I am the light and you are the light'", I was all ears because my somewhat eclectic credo includes the Roman philosophic principle that a spark of divinity exists in each of us and therefore we must respect one another if only for that spark buried deep within. Reverend Andy illustrated how all our lights can sometimes get tangled up like a string of Christmas tree lights; but with a little cooperation we can unsnarl ourselves and sort out our problems.

Then, the Reverend Jane's sermon, entitled "Reflecting Light into the Darkness" included this story told by Dr. Alexander Papaderos when he was asked, "What is the meaning of life?":

"When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

"I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. [From his pocket, he pulled a small mirror, the size of a coin.] And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine -- in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

"I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light -- truth, understanding, knowledge -- is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

"I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world -- into the black places in the hearts of men -- and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life."

And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my face and onto my hands folded on the desk.

Story told by Robert Fulghum in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (1989)

May we all shine light
into the dark places of the world.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Gifts of Friendship

Constant use has not worn ragged the fabric of their friendship.
Dorothy Parker, American poet and author (1893-1967)

I have a wise friend who has been looking out for me for almost 30 years. (For all those readers who are now doing the math in their heads: we met as babes in the nursery.) It's a bit shocking to get together and find that her daughters are now experiencing the same joys and challenges that she and I shared not so many years ago. Today's visit to the dorm room felt as if I had entered a time machine: the setting was so familiar and I didn't feel the least bit out of place, even though I'm three decades older than the other residents. How I envy them (barring dud boyfriends and grueling exams)!

Thoughts of the joys of learning led me to create quilted notebook covers as Christmas gifts for these young scholars. One is studying something called biomedical science, which is unfathomable to my arts-oriented mind but I know she likes creepy-crawlies and confounding critters so I thought she'd like this "Rain Forest Buzz" fabric.

The other is studying psychology but shares a love of myths and literature with her 'auntie' so "Library Books" by Timeless Treasures seemed the perfect choice for her cover. I'm hoping that the covers will bring smiles as numerous spiral-bound notebooks are filled over the years of studies.

For my friend, their mom, I made a scarf from a swath of Robert Kaufman's "La Scala" fabric to wrap her in colourful elegance. May its seams hold as fast as our friendship.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Party's Over

Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.
Ralph Marston, American writer

Handsome is pretty smart. He knows that the fun times are drawing to a close. His friends are going back to school and back to work. They are refreshed and renewed but it's sad to think that our opportunities for fun and companionship will be rarer now. But we'll still have fun. I promise!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I Got the Job!!

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Confucius, Chinese philosopher (551–479 BC)

This afternoon I popped the cork on a bottle of Grande Cuvee that friends had gifted me almost a year ago for a special occasion. The bottle has been chilling for two weeks as I waited for the call that I had pretty much given up hope of ever receiving: the call that offered a job right up my alley. 2013 sparkles as my spirit bubbles. Cheers!