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...a glimpse into life on Vancouver Island, needle felting, photography, food, gardening, etcetera...etcetera
"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shoes, shoes and MORE shoes...

Now, this may sound strange, but if you ever get the chance, you absoloutely must go to the Bata Shoe Museum. It is a complete history of shoes, dating back 4,500 years...
...but first a pint and a bite to eat to fortify us on our journey.(Not to mention figuring out where it is exactly).
Through these doors are hundreds of pairs of shoes from a collection of over 10,000.
Eat your heart out Imelda Marcos!
These early flip flops had an air space below the main platform which, when walked upon, would 'poof' out scents of perfume kept in the lower chamber.
Yeah, gold studded flip flops.
4 inch long shoes for the bound feet of the elite Chinese women.
A shoe for every purpose...these for crushing chestnuts.
These for gliding down frozen canals...
There are even gumboots for cows!
And lovely suede booties for dogs in the snow.
These are called 'smugglers clogs', so named for the bottoms which are carved to look as though you've been walking in the opposite direction...they were used during WW2 to fool the Germans.
Has anyone seen Cinderella?
How about Elton John?
I fell in love with this sweet pair from the '20's.
Amazing beaded moccasins...
As well as intricate embroidery.
The original platform shoe. 
This is where the term 'putting a lady on a pedestle' must have come from.
I think I saw someone at the disco in the '70's with a pair of these once.

The things one does in the name of fashion.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Song for Friday....blast from the past...

Just watched the movie 'Pirate Radio'.
Based on a true story.
During the '60s a ship operated off of the coast of England  broadcasting an illegal rock and roll radio station 24 hours a day....anyway a fun movie with lots of great old classics. 
Here's one of my favorites with some great advice from the band...Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones....enjoy the spring weather!

A tribute...

There's a sombre place at the bottom of Bathurst Street, down by the docks.
It sits in the shadow of an old malting plant flanked by new construction of high priced real estate.
This is a small park, a large memorial really, dedicated to Irish immigrants who came in droves to Toronto during the Great Famine.
Unless you already know the history, this is the only sign you come across that really doesn't explain much.
During the summer of 1847, roughly 38,000 Irish landed on the waterfront in the harbour.
At the time the city only had a population of 20,000 so you can imagine the impact.
More than 1,100 of these immigrants died of typhus in "fever sheds" built on the wharves where the ships docked. These names are but a few of some of those who perished.
The names are carved between the large slabs of layered rock.
Just beyond the flat, rock are four life size bronze figures depicting the misery of those times.
It was quite a sobering place to be, especially on this day when no one else was about. 
I thought about my ancestors who had come from County Cork during this time and the hardships they would have faced.
 Poverty, persecution, racisim.
Somehow though, many of them made it, moving into neighborhoods aptly called Corktown and Cabbagetown (for the large food gardens planted there).
There was a settlement known as The Ward where the conditions were ghetto like.
This was where the most impoverished were forced to live and remained an area of poverty from the 1850's to the 1950's.
During 1909 eight acres of The Ward was demolished to make way for the new hospital and slowly shrank over the next 40 years. Its now virtually erased from the memory of many residents.
This park was erected in 2007 to remember those who made the long voyage and who didn't survive and to those who did survive and helped build the city.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lions, ladies and lichen...

When I think of a peaceful place to wander, I think of cemeteries.
Maybe strange to some, but to me they are an oasis of calm, quite often in the heart of a city.
They provide green space for wildlife, escape from traffic and are an endless bounty of history.
Through these gates is Mount Pleasant cemetery.
In the heart of a busy Toronto neighborhood.
Established in 1867. 
200 acres. 168,00 souls rest here.
Lions are a common sight amongst the more elaborate mausoleums...
Two of these very large ones flank the Eaton's family crypt.
 And this quiet, smaller one dozing in the sun.
Hand carved details abound in stone...
Lichen has left it's mark on many as well...
This one was quite unique in its depiction of a tree stump, trying to blend in...
The baby blue eyes were blooming in mass carpets but none so large as this spot where dozens of infants are buried...
Then there are the 'ladies'...
I imagine they are to represent angels amongst the granite masculinity...
I would take my time, reading the many names, dates and places where these people came from and thought of my own mortality...
As Longfellow once wrote...
"Lives of great men all remind us,
we can make our lives sublime,
and departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time."

I came across many other walkers, the few times I was there, who seemed to find a similar peace.

Intermission...after the rain....