The new offices of Harper Collins Publishers Canada is near the waterfront in Toronto. The elevator in the building is controlled by the woman manning the front desk and, when I visited the publishing house, she sent me right up to the 41st floor. I was ushered into the room where the author meet was to take place (see my post here) and I was swept away by what I saw through the windows. The day was a clear Spring day with no fog. The time was 5:45pm. The views were stunning!
The windows were full length and offered an uninhibited view of the city. How lucky to be working there with the opportunity to see those views everyday. I was certainly glad to have had the chance to see them myself.
Have you seen aerial views of a city? Which city was it? Feel free to add a photo in the comments.
When growing up I would hear the term “April showers” and not truly understand the reason for the expression because we did not have them in Johannesburg. Since living in Toronto, though, I have experienced wet days during the fourth month of the year. The temperatures rise, birds sing, and moisture is seen in the form of rain.
This year April seems to be a little different. Since Friday (1 April), the temperatures have dropped and this weekend we had flurries. This morning as I stepped outside, a wintery sight was waiting for me.
I hope Old Man Winter does not linger. Instead, I wish to welcome April showers and the show of Spring.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to board one of the new streetcars that are being rolled out in Toronto by the TTC (the public transit system). The sleek lines of the new vechile look bright, shiny and impressive.
The inside looks elegant and clean – and offers more space for travellers than the old streetcar. We grabbed a seat and enjoyed the smooth ride to our destination.
One hopes that the longer streetcars will help ease the pressure to get many Torontonians to their destination. Time will tell whether the expense was worth it.
Do you have the opportunity to travel by streetcar?
Since June, my daughter and her friends planned to attend the ParaPan Am games. They spent hours discussing which sport to go and watch: they perused the options available and spent time watching videos of each game. They decided on attending the 5-a-side blind soccer matches. School ended and the PanAm Games began. My daughter’s desire to attend a game played by those with physical disabilities did not abate.
Last week I accompanied my daughters and friends to watch the first series of matches for the blind soccer competition. After our TTC ride (public transit), we walked to the arena and knew we had arrived at our destination when we saw the brightly coloured graphics representing the PanAm Games.
We chose our seats on the stands – avoiding the heat of the sun. I was looking forward to the match as I had never seen one before. I noticed with interest that the field is a lot smaller than that of regular soccer (about a tenth of the size) and that pitch is surrounded by side boards (which will keep the ball on the field).
During play I noticed a few of the other rules (I had not looked them up before attending the game). The goalie (who is sighted) is allowed to shout directions to their team mates without leaving his post in front of the goalie box. In addition to the goalie shouting directions, each team has a coach who stands behind the opposing team’s goalie box and who can give directions on where and when to shoot the ball. At times another coach shouts directions from the midfield sidelines where he is watching the game. For the games we watched, the players were speaking in Spanish so I was unable to understand the actual words that were said.
During the game, the player who is near the ball shouts out the word “voy” (Portuguese for “I am here”) to alert the others of his presence. I learned later that if a player does not do this, he will receive a penalty. I am sure you are thinking that there is a lot of shouting going on – and there is! But it did not detract from my enjoyment of the game at all. The players, the goalies and the coaches are shouting – but not the audience. We were reminded a few times to not cheer as the noise would distract the players. Sometimes it was hard to keep quiet – especially when the scoring a goal was missed by fractions of an inch!
You may have noticed in the pictures that all of the players wear blindfolds. This is to equalize all the players as some are partially blind. At times, play was stopped when the referees (dressed in yellow shirts) noticed that the blindfolds were slipping. I noticed that the men who referreed the game took care with the players. Not only did they ensure the players’ blindfolds were comfortable, but they also placed the players in position when they were to kick the ball after a penalty or if the ball had gone off the field.
The ball itself is different to a regular soccer ball: it is heavier than usual and is filled with plastic ballbearings that make a loud rattling sound when kicked. The players listen for the sound of the ball to help them know where it is. I noticed the referees shaking the ball before they placed it on the floor in front of the player for the penalty kicks. They did this until the player indicated that they knew where the ball was.
What amazed me was that the players ran with no fear, trusting in their hearing to play the ball.
Watching the games definitely highlighted that a person is able to follow their dream, no matter what the obstacles. These men may be blind but that has not prevented them from following their passion and playing a game that they love.
As we left the arena to go home, I was grateful for my daughter’s desire to attend a game at the ParaPan Am Games. Her wish led me to experience something I never thought I would.
Last Saturday my husband accompanied me to the Toronto Jazz Festival. The first time we attended it (many years ago) it poured with rain and, because we had young children with us, we were not allowed to take shelter where alcohol was served. As a result, we have given it a miss every year. Now that the children are older, I wished to go again. This time, though, my girls decided to stay at home.
The TTC (Toronto’s public transit) deposited us on the boundary of the park where the festival was held. To find our destination, we followed the jazzy sounds of a big band. How I love the combination of the saxophone, trumpets and horns! I have spend many hours listening to the sounds of Glen Miller and Louis Armstrong.
On our arrival to the Big Band stage, I was surprised to see people sitting in their chairs. Many had brought a picnic basket and were eating while enjoying the music.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the door floor that had been laid out in front of the band – and pleased to see that there were people who were couragous enough to dance to the music.
Unfortunately my husband did not want to dance so I had to make do with tapping my feet to the rhythm.
After listening to “Swing Shift” for a while, we headed on to find the Latin Stage. I was curious to hear the sounds of “Jazz meets Salsa”.
I enjoyed listening to the music out in the open air. The dance floor that had been set up was used often as people moved to the sounds created by the musicians.
It was enjoyable to watch the people dance. I was happy to see much older people showing that they can still salsa – and even a young child showed that he could move to the jazzy latin sounds. When the band finished their set, we went off in search of the main stage where modern jazz was being played.
Over here we grabbed a chair, some cider to sip on and something to eat (delicious samoosas!). As the late afternoon shadows lengthened, I enjoyed the two bands we listened to. My husband enjoyed Dawn Taylor Watson and the Ben Racine band:
He was not too keen on The Lost Fingers, but I enjoyed their jazzy renditions of well-known songs:
Next year I will definitely attend the jazz festival – and I will bring with us a couple of chairs and a picnic basket.
All day long our neighbourhood is filled with the sounds of construction: drilling, hammering, the rumble of heavy trucks. Looking out from our balcony, we can see the closest spot from which these day-long rumblings come:
The noise seems to never stop and I often long for quiet. The spot in the photograph, though, is an example of what is happening in other streets near where I live; as well as on the main roads. The constant construction and zeal for creating condos is changing the skyline that I see everyday.
The buildings that are going up now are higher than the existing ones. And I know that in the next few years, this view of the horizon will change even more.
The PanAm games are happening in Toronto. I am not a sports fan so I have not bought tickets to watch the games. However my curiosity did bring me out of my home, accompanied by my husband, to visit the Nathan Phillips Square downtown in Toronto.
I love the sign they have placed near the water and was pleased to read that the sign will stay there after the Games for a few months – and then will be moved around to various locations in the city.
The best thing about my visit to the Square, though, was the free concert. The last concert I had attended was before my little girl was born – and that was over 15 years ago! I enjoyed standing in the cooling night air to listen to the sounds of Wyclef Jean and, later, Serena Ryder.
At the end of the concert, we were treated with fireworks to the music of the theme song for the PanAm Games: Together We Are One by Serena Ryder.
This week I am grateful for the chance I had to experience the free concert – and be introduced to another talented musician. I am grateful for living in a city that offers its inhabitants the chance to experience live music and stunning fireowrks.
The costumes at the Santa Parade are fun, unique and colourful. As my stepson noted, they put many Halloween costumes to shame. It was difficult for me to choose my favourite. I loved these ones for the fun they portray:
I can imagine walking in them would be a little difficult though.
I am certain that these participants were nice and warm in their costume on this chilly day:
My daughter loved the rabbits holding their carrots 🙂
I found the dinosaurs to be cute.
I was wondering why these people were holding fire hydrants. I did not work out the significance.
The people dressed as bears looked warm as well – all of them were smiling at the crowds.
Such a wide skirt! This woman was working hard to move her dress along.
I loved the Tim Hortons coffee cup 🙂
What was great is that the cup danced along wowing the crowd. The audience loved it!
Fruit costumes put in their appearance:
As did beautiful flowers:
The butterflies looked friendly and smiled happily at the crowd.
I am sure all the little girls loved this costume:
When we saw the Christmas trees, we knew that Santa was near.
The costumes were a delight to see and are certainly an integral part of the parade.
My favourite part of the Santa Parade is always the sounds of the marching bands. I enjoy the music and the songs they play. I appreciate as well the variety of costumes and the effort the players make to come out in the cold and play for us. This year was no different – though I was eager to hear the band my daughter plays in. I took pictures of every marching band that passed in front of us. I will share with you, however, only those photos that I like the most.
The first marching band is always the one with the bagpipes. I enjoyed the sounds as the music echoed through the cool air. The sounds of the bagpipes helped to encourage the sense of anticipation we began to feel with the start of the parade.
Of course a marching band has its row of drummers and all the ones we saw that day took their task seriously.
I enjoyed seeing the band members march up towards us on the street. They looked so smart in their uniforms. The marching band in the next picture stood out in my photos as their costume was a contrast to the grey day.
They walked by smartly and in sync.
I love the photo I managed to take of the tuber players as they walked in front of us.
As one band approached, we saw a flag that was familiar to us. Do you see it?
Yes, the South African flag was held high by members of a marching band who were holding the flags of many countries.
Not all marching bands had a uniform that was formal. This band came by sporting a uniform that did not reflect the uniforms of ages gone by.
Though most bands did reflect the norm with hard hats, smart pants and a formal jacket.
The dress of one band showed us who was near.
I was saddened when the music ended and wished I could listen to more.
Do you enjoy listening to marching bands at parades?