Monday, November 27, 2006


Sunday was Coach House Books' launch of their new book State of the Arts: Living with Culture in Toronto.

I attended the Unofficial Culture panel discussion. oof. Panel discussions can be heavy stuff; even with the great moderator the material can be a bit dry. Luckily I liquored up a little bit at the Gladstone's fabulous new bar at the corner of Gladstone and Queen.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Waterfront in November

It was a beautiful crisp autumn day in Toronto. The western waterfront was our backdrop for a bike ride today.

Liberty Grand, CNE. This Beaux-Arts building was constructed in 1926 as the Government of Ontario building. The Liberty Grand is an events hall now. Beaux-Arts is a style of architecture derived from Imperial Roman styles, involving elements such as heavy use of sculptural elements, symmetry, and grand entrances.

Windshare ExPlace Turbine. The ExPlace Turbine is the first urban-sited wind turbine in North America and generates 1,000 MWh of power per year.

New landscaping along western waterfront

Humber Bay Arch Bridge. The bridge is an abstracted rendition of a Thunderbird, designed by Montgomery Sisam Architects.

Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat

Spirit Ravens at HBBH

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Domestic Affair

Jae Steele has an article explaining the reasoning behind eating whole grains. A whole grain food has its bran, germ, and endosperm intact. (white flour includes only the endosperm). Most of the fibre and vitamins are contained in the germ and bran layers of the grain.

Steele is a registereded holistic nutritionist and writer of vegetarian cookzines. Her weblog can be found at

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Blame Canada

Canada's Conservative government continued its tradition of environmental disgrace and incompetence by opposing a ban on high-seas bottom trawling. Bottom-trawling is the so-called 'clear cutting of the oceans' method of fishing that is devastating the world's oceans. The UN proposal would ban bottom trawling in currently unregulated international waters.

Greenpeace has put together a South Park themed-video urging people to Blame Canada.

Last Days of the Garden

As the days get shorter the garden wilts. The bulbs go into the ground for next year: garlic, daffodils, and snowdrops.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stones II

Finally we got the last stones into our front yard and completed the retaining wall.

It was important to us to get a regional material, and the color of stone fits well with the surroundings. The stone is Georgian Bay limestone from Beaver Valley Stone.

Landscaping is a tricky business. In order to prevent frost heaving, the stones are surrounded by gravel wrapped in filter fabric. The gravel allows water to seep away from the stone and the filter fabric keeps dirt particles from mixing with the gravel. In between the gravel and the stones is a layer of limestone fines for precise levelling.

Our friend the stone mason gave us a hand with two stones that required cutting. His diamond-tipped chainsaws cut through limestone like butter

The levelling went well but the stones are not quite in a straight line. They run flush with the sidewalk edge which is not straight. Next time I will follow the string line more closely. But we are very happy with the results; our motto is: perfection is not an option

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Income Trust Anger

Income trust investors expressed disappointment after Jim Flaherty lowered the boom on income trusts by announcing new tax measures. The income trust boom started to get out of control in the past few years, as corporations exploited an obscure loophole to avoid paying corporate tax.

A number of 45-year olds with million dollar portfolios will now have to work for a living instead of retiring at 50. One alternative to income trusts is known as a 'job'. It pays distributions every two weeks.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stone placing

Saturday was stone day for us. At 8:30am the flat bed truck arrived, complete with hydraulic legs and a crane with a ten-foot boom. The crane easily handled the two tonnes of limestone that we ordered, and dropped it in our front yard

We dug a deep trench, taking care not to sever the gas main and cause a blinding explosion. In order to provide proper drainage, it is necessary to line the site with gravel wrapped in filter fabric. The gravel is topped with limestone powder which is used to adjust the level of the stone.

Drop 400 pound rock into place. Measure. Pull 400 pound rock out. Add limestone. Repeat

Slurp. ahhh. Coffee helps the job go smoother.