Monday, September 24, 2012

Thank you Sam

My first 45 was by Bobby Sherman and my first album was by the Partridge Family, and both were bought at Sam the Record Man, at my local plaza. The proprietor was tall and lanky and had hair to his waist and wore tie dyed t-shirts, and truth be known, kind of intimidated me when I was a kid. I mean, how many genuine hippies did I encounter in the burbs in the '60's, this wasn't Yorkville. He didn't mean to intimidate me, he was just such an imposing figure, and so different to me. He always sat quietly at the front of the store, spinning his records, behind the cash and the heat sealing maching that locked your records into the white plastic bag, to get them safely home. He never balked that I was eying the latest Partridge Family album, as I would pull it off the wall and check out the photos of David Cassidy on the back.

Sam's fared big in my youth. What money I had to spend on stuff for myself was usually on records and candy. What you could get candy-wise for  50 cents was amazing — my dentist will confirm that. Sam's had a door crasher special every Saturday morning that was advertised in the Toronto Daily Star every Friday,  listing incredible deals for $1.99. So incredible that my brother and I both bought Frampton Comes Alive,  at the door crasher sale one Saturday.  Hey, what siblings consult each other about what they bought at Sam's? My brother is four years older and was all about Led Zeppelin and Ina Goda Da Vida  for a few years before I caught up to his tastes.

The big iconic Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto, with it's creaky crooked floors benefited  greatly from me in my university years, as I made a weekly pilgrimage to the store after classes on a Friday. I loved looking up the wall at the new albums: Sticky Fingers, The Wall, The Kids are Alright. Sadly, album art is a lost art — some of those albums had stand out design, in terms of typography, photography and graphics. I remember Sam often working in the front of the store, as you were checking out his pricing. I would walk next door to A & A's to check out their prices, then back to Sam's for the final purchase. It always felt good to walk home with that flat white bag, with red writing on the front saying Sam the Record Man, and to play the coveted album for the first time, as you gently put the needle into the groove.

At one time, flying into Toronto in the evening, you could always pick out Yonge Street and the wonderful neon lights of Sam's spinning in the dark. Seeing Sam's let me know, I was almost home.

Sam Sniderman, you brought a lot to this country — uniting us in music.
Thank You.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Every once in a while you have to take some down time and recharge, rethink and renew, and that's exactly what I did for a week at the end of this summer. I took my annual pilgrimage up to Georgian Bay, where the air is cleaner, though filled with ragweed, the beaches are long, Wasaga is 14 km long, and there are no commitments on me for a solid week.

The crowds on Labour Day weekend.

As the week went on, we had the beach to ourselves.

 I look forward to this week each year.  I give myself permission to eat a bag of chips for lunch, and not feel guilty, I bead on the beach under a big blue sky and make new creations for my fall shows, I drive to the top of the Niagara Escarpment to take in a lovely sunset view, I buy my favorite pumpkin fudge and nibble away at it, visit Holy Crow Beads, to get inspired with Beverley's use of colours, I pop into Masters Designs Studio in Thornbury and have a good chin wag with Deborah, one of three of the very talented trio of Masters who are local artists, talking about jewellery and art and life in general. All of these little events and rituals take up my full seven days — and they are full days. I want to max out this down time, strange as that may sound.

A sampling of work at Masters Designs by
Deborah, Jessica and Marian Masters.

 This getting away from it all inspires me to create new types of jewellery. I think of it as the start of the new school year, though it isn't for me. It allows me to rethink where I am with things in my world. It's a time to re-evaluate just what is working and what isn't working and what can be improved on and what I would like to do. 

Playing with different kumihimo knots.

My work tray for the week.

I had my usual parting breakfast at The Olde Red Hen in Collingwood, again, another ritual I have. It's nice to know, some things don't change, in this ever changing world. The Olde Red Hen Restaurant was a coffee shop my parents frequented in the 1950's, when they would do a day trip up to Collingwood, and the original counter and displays are still there. The Blue Mountain Pottery factory of my childhood has been gone for a few years now, but that hasn't stopped me from buying one piece of the green/blue pottery, just as I did, on our yearly holidays to Georgian Bay when I was a kid, though now I have to scour antique, thrift and consignment stores to find my little souvenir.

Your classic 1950's black granite store front for
The Olde Red Hen Restaurant in Collingwood.

As I drove back to reality yesterday, still grasping at the final moments of summer, I found a new appreciation for my home again. It's not until you've been away for a while, and then return, that you appreciate what Dorothy in ,"The Wizard of Oz," said, "There's no place like home."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A day at the Ex

All my life, the start of the Canadian National Exhibition marked the end of summer. It has run mid August and till Labour day each year since 1879. And most years I have made a pilgrimage down to the venerable icon. When I was a kid, it was the family outing, in my teens it was with friends and generally a concert at the now gone Grandstand, I saw many airshows, whipped around on the Mouse Trap, took in the view on the Alpine Way ride, ate at Foods of the World and climbed the Shell tower.

This year my Mom and I decided for a more leisurely pace at the Ex, as there are always changes and things to be seen. You either love it or you don't. I'm in the former category. It's part of my heritage. I really can't imagine not going to the Ex.

The following is a what I encountered in my day in the life of the CNE 2012.

The Snowbirds zoomed over us as we entered the grounds.
What a scene! Rides, junk food —I love it.
The Better Living Centre has now been converted to "The Farm",
and this little cutie was showing us on of the jobs of animals.
Well, his future job.

Our fine mayor looking very satirical,
reading a butter book by Margaret Atwood.
What's a farm visit without a butter sculpture?

And sand carvings too.

Over at the Arts, Crafts & Hobbies building,  were the usual fudge,
future garage sale souvenirs and this fine booth with creatively done
recycled fashions, DejaVu Design Recycled Textiles.
I picked up a Hudson's Bay bag which I love.

Ah, one of the highlights of every CNE visit — eating at the Food building.

Chicken something or other for my Mom and Falafel for me.

Pick a country and or food type, and it could be found here.
I even saw shepherd's pie in a cone made from pizza dough.
I just loved this image. Could never eat one.

The midway and all the games and prizes.

Is this not the neatest lemonade stand? Only at the Ex.

When I was a kid these carts were in all the city neighborhoods.
Many times when I was a kid my DziaDzia would give me a quarter
and I would get a yummy greasy bag of popcorn from one of these vendors.
They are now a rare site.

Homage to days gone by. Can you tell I love a good pig?

Stone artist at work in the garden show area.

Yum, a dozen hot tiny tom's.

What a way to end the ex.

The evening parade in front of the Press Office and main fountain.

Your token cow.
This sign made me laugh. I saw it when I was getting a bottle
of water when we were leaving.
A young kid running the booth had put it on the glass,
indicating a huge gap between a wooden cover and where the actual glass cabinet began.
It was full of loose change, napkins, kid's bracelets, you name it.
Until next year...